Lifestyle, family history and progression of hypertension

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Unhealthy lifestyle practices are risk factors for future hypertension.


The aim of this study was to investigate the association between lifestyle changes over a 6-year period and the risk of developing sustained hypertension in a cohort of young hypertensive individuals, and to identify the predictors of lifestyle impairment over time.


Seven-hundred and eighty never-treated hypertensive HARVEST participants, 18–45 years old, were studied.


Only modest mean behavioral changes were observed during follow-up. This, however, was the net result of many participants improving and others worsening their lifestyle. Participants with a family history of hypertension (FH+, n = 459) had more undesirable lifestyles (P = 0.004) and higher clinic and ambulatory blood pressures (P = 0.03) at baseline than participants without a family history of hypertension (FH−). During the 6-year follow-up, FH− individuals strikingly worsened their lifestyle while FH+ participants exhibited impressive improvements (P < 0.00001). Other predictors of lifestyle impairment were male gender (P = 0.003) and age (P = 0.02). Adoption of an unfavorable lifestyle was accompanied by an increased risk of developing sustained hypertension (P = 0.04). Initiation of drug therapy for hypertension was significantly higher among FH− than FH+ individuals (53 versus 45%, respectively; P = 0.045).


‘Lower risk’ FH− stage 1 hypertensive individuals may initially be at higher risk of developing more severe hypertension in comparison with their FH+ counterparts. This increased risk may be attributed to worsening of their lifestyle profiles over time. Healthy lifestyles should be emphasized to all hypertensive individuals including patients with favorable lifestyle profiles.

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