Exercise to Lowering Blood Pressure in Girls

Obese girls are four to nine times more likely to have pre-elevated or elevated blood pressure

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

(RxWiki News) Being obese at any age isn't healthy. For adolescent girls, however, it could have dangerous implications on their blood pressure.

While obese boys between the ages of 13 and 17 are up to three and a half times more likely to develop elevated systolic blood pressure, obese girls in the same age range were up to nine times more likely to develop high blood pressure as compared to non-obese teens.

"Exercise often to maintain healthy blood pressure."

Systolic blood pressure, represented as the top number in a blood pressure reading, is the amount of force blood exerts on blood vessel walls when the heart beats. High systolic blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

Rudy M. Ortiz, lead researcher and associate professor of physiology and nutrition at the University of California at Merced, found in a study of 1,700 teens that mean body mass index was significantly correlated with systolic blood pressure for both genders.

Researchers obtained data from school district health surveys and physicals to assess BMI, categorized as normal weight, overweight or obese, against blood pressure, categorized as normal, pre-elevated or elevated.

Obese girls were between four to nine times more likely to have pre-elevated or elevated blood pressure as compared to girls of a normal weight.

Ortiz said the results reveal that there is a higher likelihood that those with both higher BMI and blood pressure will succumb to cardiovascular complications as adults, though obese girls have a higher risk of developing such problems.

Ortiz said the reason may boil down to physical exercise. The surveys revealed that obese adolescent girls participated in to 50 to 60 percent less physical activity as compared to obese boys.

The research was recently presented at the Physiology of Cardiovascular Disease: Gender Disparities conference at the University of Mississippi in Jackson.

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Review Date: 
October 17, 2011
Last Updated:
October 18, 2011