SYDNEY – Research by the University of Western Australia (WA) revealed that the risk of high blood pressure in adults could have its origin before birth.
The research, published in the Journal of Hypertension and released on Wednesday, used statistics from the Raine Study which has followed a group of young adults throughout their lives since they were unborn babies.
WA researchers then used ultrasound measurements to model the intrauterine growth trajectories at different stages of pregnancy from the study. They found higher blood pressure in adulthood significantly associated with restricted fetal growth and sustained low-growth.
“We found that babies, whose head and abdominal growth during pregnancy are below average, are at greater risk of hypertension during adulthood with their systolic blood pressure 3.5 mmHg higher,” said the lead author of the study, public health physician and Ph.D. candidate Dr Ashish Yadav.
Yadav said population studies have shown that a 3.5 mmHg higher blood pressure in adults corresponded to a 6-10 percent higher risk of death due to heart disease and a 10 percent higher risk of stroke.
“Our study provides new evidence that there are different patterns of fetal growth and that they play a critical role in predisposing the offspring to risk of future heart disease and stroke,” he said.
Researchers also found that lifestyle and environmental factors during pregnancy can also increase an unborn child’s risk of heart disease and stroke later in life.
“Mothers’ weight, smoking and hypertension in pregnancy and pregnancy-related diabetes, which all influence growth of the unborn child,” Yadav said.
The research reinforces the importance of the early intrauterine environment and its influence on adults’ blood pressure, saying that early health interventions targeting risk factors could potentially reduce the possibility of future cardiovascular disease.
How do you feel when you have high blood pressure?
In some cases, people with high blood pressure may have a pounding feeling in their head or chest, a feeling of lightheadedness or dizziness, or other signs. Without symptoms, people with high blood pressure may go years without knowing they have the condition.
What causes suddenly high blood pressure?
Some possible causes include caffeine, acute stress or anxiety, certain medications (such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), combinations of medications, recreational drugs, sudden or acute pain, dehydration and white coat effect (fear of being in a hospital or doctor’s clinic).
What are the 4 stages of hypertension?
Doctors classify blood pressure into four categories: normal, prehypertension (mild), stage 1 (moderate), and stage 2 (severe). Treatment depends on which category your pressure consistently falls in when readings are taken.