News ID: 270794
Published: 0958 GMT June 29, 2020

Blood pressure connected to eye health in young children

Blood pressure connected to eye health in young children
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Young children with narrow retinal artery diameters were more likely to develop higher blood pressure, and children with higher blood pressure levels were more likely to develop retinal microvascular impairment during early childhood, according to a new study published today in Hypertension, an American Heart Association journal. This is the first study to show this connection in children.

High blood pressure, the main risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD), can manifest as early as childhood, and the prevalence of high blood pressure among children continues to rise. In previous studies, analysis of blood vessels in the retina has shown promise as a predictor of CVD risk among adults. In the study titled, "Retinal Vessel Diameters and Blood Pressure Progression in Children," researchers sought to predict the development of high blood pressure in children over four years based on retinal blood vessel measurements, eurekalert.org reported.

"Hypertension continues as the main risk factor for the development of cardiovascular diseases and mortality," said Henner Hanssen, M.D., the study's lead author and a professor in the department of sport, exercise and health at the University of Basel in Switzerland. "Primary prevention strategies are needed to focus on screening retinal microvascular health and blood pressure in young children in order to identify those at increased risk of developing hypertension. The earlier we can provide treatment and implement lifestyle changes to reduce hypertension, the greater the benefit for these children."

Researchers screened 262 children ages six to eight from 26 schools in Basel, Switzerland, in 2014, for baseline blood pressure and retinal arterial measurements. Both measures were taken again in 2018. Blood pressure measurements at both baseline and follow-up were performed in a sitting position after a minimum of five minutes of rest and were categorized based on the American Academy of Pediatrics' blood pressure guidelines.

   
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