Bethesda, Md. The female hormone estrogen is known to offer protection for the heart, but obesity may be taking away that edge in adolescent girls. New research from the University of California at Merced finds that although obesity does not help teens of either gender, it has a greater impact on girls' blood pressure than it does on boys'.
In a study of more than 1,700 adolescents between 13 and 17 years old, obese boys were 3.5 times more likely to develop elevated systolic blood pressure (SBP) than non-obese boys, but similarly obese girls were 9 times more likely to develop elevated systolic blood pressure than their non-obese peers. Systolic blood pressure, which is represented by the top number in a blood pressure reading, is the amount of force that blood exerts on blood vessel walls when the heart beats. High systolic measurements indicate risk for heart disease and stroke.
Rudy M. Ortiz, PhD, Associate Professor of Physiology and Nutrition and lead researcher in the study, will present his team's findings at the Physiology of Cardiovascular Disease: Gender Disparities conference, October 12 at the University of Mississippi in Jackson. The conference is sponsored by the American Physiological Society with additional support from the American Heart Association. His presentation is entitled, "Relationships Between Body Mass Category and Systolic Blood Pressure in Rural Adolescents."
Dr. Ortiz and his team obtained their data by direct measurements during the school district's health surveys and physicals to assess the teenagers' SBP against two health indicators: body mass index (BMI), which was categorized as normal weight, overweight, or obese, and blood pressure, which was categorized as normal, pre-elevated, or elevated.
The researchers found that the teenagers' mean BMI was significantly correlated with mean SPB for both sexes when both BMI and blood pressure assessments were used. T
|Contact: Donna Krupa|
American Physiological Society