NEWS TIPS FROM THE 2009 ANNUAL MEETING OF THE PEDIATRIC ACADEMIC
SOCIETIES, MAY 2-5, BALTIMORE CONVENTION CENTER, 1 PRATT ST.
BLACK KIDS WITH HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE MAY BE AT HIGHER RISK FOR HEART
DISEASE Embargoed for release: 12:01 A.M. EDT, Saturday, May 2
Research led by the Johns Hopkins Children's Center shows that black
children with persistently elevated blood pressure are more likely
than other hypertensive children to develop left ventricular
hypertrophy (LVH), a dangerous enlargement or thickening of the left
chamber of the heart. LVH, over time, can lead to heart failure,
heart rhythm abnormalities and death.
In the study, black children with LVH also had higher cholesterol
levels, a trend that was absent among children of other ethnicities,
with or without LVH.
All children with untreated hypertension, regardless of race, are at
risk for developing LVH over time, the Johns Hopkins researchers say,
but the new findings should be heeded as an alarm by pediatricians
that black children may be at even higher risk.
In the study of 139 children with hypertension, ages 3 to 21,
researchers found that of 35 black children, 60 percent had developed
LVH, compared to 37 percent of the 104 children of other races.
"Our study identifies black children with hypertension as a special
group who may be at particularly high risk for heart disease as they
age because of several risk factors, and pediatricians treating these
kids should follow them very closely," said study lead author Cozumel
Pruette, M.D., a kidney specialist at Johns Hopkins Children's.
An estimated 4 million children in the United States have
hypertension, a number that has increased five times over the last 20
to 30 years, and researchers say the obesity epidemic is one possible
factor in the increase.
All children, regardless of race, who have had one episode of
elevated blood pressure during a visit to their doctor, should be
monitored to make sure the episode was isolated rather than chronic,
Pruette says. And all children who are diagnosed with hypertension
should be referred to a kidney specialist and have an ultrasound
study of the heart to check heart muscle thickness and heart
function. Researchers recommend cholesterol checks for children with
blood pressure at or above the 95th percentile; overweight children
with blood pressure ranges in the 90th to 94th percentile (or
pre-hypertension); in children with chronic kidney disease, and in
those who have family history of hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
Co-investigators on the study: Barbara Fivush, M.D., and Tammy Brady,
M.D., M.H.S., of Johns Hopkins Children's; and Joseph Flynn, M.D.,
M.S., of Seattle Children's Hospital.