Parental History of Hypertension Is Associated With Narrower Retinal Arteriolar Caliber in Young Girls
We aimed to assess the associations between parental history of hypertension and indicators of cardiovascular risk (retinal vessel diameter, presence of obesity, and elevated blood pressure) in prepubertal children. There were 1739 (77.7% of those eligible) 6-year–old students (863 girls and 876 boys) who were examined from a random cluster sample of 34 Sydney schools. Parents completed questionnaires about their medical conditions, including whether they have/had hypertension. Retinal images were taken with a digital fundus camera, and retinal vessel caliber was quantified using computer software. Anthropometric (height, weight, percentage of body fat, and body mass index) and blood pressure measures were collected. There were 160 children (9.2%) with a positive parental history of hypertension (either biological mother and/or father). Children with a positive versus negative parental history of hypertension had significantly higher body mass index (16.8 versus 16.5 kg/m2; P=0.04) and systolic blood pressure (101.3 versus 99.8 mm Hg; P=0.01). Girls with positive versus negative parental history of hypertension had significantly higher diastolic blood pressure (≈3.1 mm Hg; P=0.01) and narrower retinal arteriolar caliber (≈4.3 μ m; P=0.0004). Positive parental history of hypertension was not associated with mean retinal vascular caliber among boys. We show that a positive parental history of hypertension in healthy prepubertal girls, but not boys, is associated with narrower retinal arteriolar vessels, likely conveying a predisposition to develop hypertension later in life. These findings may indicate the need for cardiovascular disease prevention measures starting early in life among offspring of hypertensive parents.
- Received May 25, 2011.
- Revision received June 15, 2011.
- Accepted June 27, 2011.
- © 2011 American Heart Association, Inc.