Whats Behind Teen Hypertension

Abnormal uric acid may suggest high blood pressure in adolescents

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Doctors may have found a new marker capable of suggesting a teen suffers from high blood pressure. Abnormal levels of uric acid, a build-up associated with gout attacks, may act as a mechanism for hypertension.

Though a cause and effect link between uric acid and hypertension was not found, researchers said the findings suggest uric acid may act as a biomarker of high blood pressure.

"Avoid smoking to maintain healthy blood pressure."

Lauren Loeffler, MD, MHS, lead investigator and a nephrologist at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, noted that high blood pressure is no longer an adult disease, and has become increasingly common among children. She said the discovery suggests one potential pathway for the development of hypertension in young patients, and also a possible method for detection and treatment.

Uric acid is better known for triggering painful episodes of gout, characterized by recurrent attacks of acute inflammatory arthritis, most commonly affecting the big toe.

However, other research has suggested that uric acid could be linked to heart disease including hypertension, stroke, diabetes and chronic kidney disease. The current study suggests uric acid may play a role earlier than previously suspected.

During the study investigators reviewed the medical records of 6,036 children between the ages of 12 and 17 through a national databank. About 3 percent of the teens had high blood pressure, and one third were overweight or obese.

They found that 6 percent of boys and 9 percent of girls had abnormally high levels of uric acid, defined as 7.7 milligrams per deciliter for boys and 5.7 milligrams per deciliter for girls.

Teens with abnormally high levels of uric acid were twice as likely to have high blood pressure compared to those with normal levels. In addition, the likelihood of hypertension increased with higher uric acid levels. With each 0.1 mg/dL increase in uric acid, the likelihood of high blood pressure increased 55 percent in boys and 17 percent among girls.

The association between uric acid and blood pressure was still present even after researchers adjusted for various factors that could affect blood pressure such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high body mass index and smoking.

The research, funded by the National Institutes of Health, was recently published in the April issue of the journal Hypertension.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 30, 2012
Last Updated:
May 10, 2012