AUGUSTA, Ga. Even while their blood pressures are still normal, overweight male teens may have elevated levels of a hormone known to increase pressures as well as early signs of heart damage, researchers say.
Medical College of Georgia researchers looking at 126 healthy 15- to17-year-olds in high school in Augusta, Ga., found the hormone aldosterone highest among the overweight males. Early intervention could help these young people avoid growing up to be adults with cardiovascular disease, the number one killer in the United States.
"These associations give us reason to question whether we should be screening for and treating high aldosterone in obese males with normal pressures, particularly those with a family history of cardiovascular disease," MCG Endocrinology Fellow Dayal D. Raja says of the collaborative study with the Department of Pediatrics.
"Our failure to halt the progression of heart damage is attributed to late detection, because early heart damage is usually asymptomatic," Dr. Raja says. "We have evidence that we could identify individuals early and stop or even reverse that damage. We need more study to confirm our findings and a plan for whom and how to screen."
This first evidence of elevated aldosterone levels and early heart damage in a pediatric population with normal blood pressure earned Dr. Raja first place in the poster session at the recent American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists 18th Annual Meeting and Clinical Congress in Houston.
Aldosterone, a hormone produced by the adrenal gland, is known to increase blood pressure by increasing sodium and water retention. Despite normal blood pressures, the overweight males had thickened heart walls and an increase in the size of the pumping chamber of the heart, Dr. Raja says. Structural changes in the young hearts can be linked to a lesser-known aldosterone fact: it also promotes inflammation and formation of fibrous tissue in the he
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Medical College of Georgia