Can Hypertension In Teens Lead To A Better Quality Of Life?

Teenagers
Higher blood pressure in teens may protect them against stress, allowing them a better quality of life. Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.

Hypertension in teens may have a "repressed emotions" effect, giving teens the resilience needed to face stress and achieve more, according to a study published in Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine

"This is the first report linking elevated blood pressure to quality of life and psychosocial adaptation in a large epidemiological study of adolescents," said Dr. Angela Berendes, lead author on the study from the University of Göttingen, Germany.

The study was conducted with almost 8,000 adolescents ages 14 – 18, analyzing factors such as blood pressure, quality of life, and psychological distress.

Berendes believes that "teens who are more achievement-oriented and do better in school may experience increased stress, leading to higher blood pressure — but also to better self-esteem and quality of life."

The studies on hypertension in teens have not been conclusive enough to directly correlate hypertension and lower distress, but "[t]he new study finds highly consistent links between high blood pressures, lower distress, and higher quality of life, suggesting "a real and epidemiologically relevant association," Dr. Berendes and coauthors conclude.

Teenage obesity in the U.S. has become an epidemic and as a result, the prevalence of high blood pressure is on the rise.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) obesity rates have tripled since the 1980s. Among teens ages 12 – 19, 18 percent are obese.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), hypertension in adults can lead to a variety of health risks such as stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure. Hypertensive risk factors are usually developed when people are in their teenage years, but according to this study, this might be a positive factor before teens reach adulthood.

The research also finds that high blood pressure may dampen negative emotions. Previous studies suggested that a rise in blood pressure might reduce perceived stress.

According to Dr. Berendes, "More research is needed to clarify the study implications — particularly in young patients who are unaware of and have yet to experience long-term damage related to high blood pressure."

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