on January 19th, 2016 No Comments
Unfit adolescents who have a high body mass index are more likely to suffer from hypertension when they are older than their peers, according to a new study from researchers at Stanford and Lund University in Sweden.
The paper, the first to discover this connection, was published today in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Lead author Casey Crump, MD, PhD, who recently left Stanford to join the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, and his colleagues tapped a unique data source to uncover the relationship: the Swedish military. In the past in Sweden, all males had to join the military at age 18, and Crump and his team examined fitness and health records from more than 1.5 million military conscripts between 1969 and 1997. Thanks to the Swedish national health-care system, they were also able to obtain follow-up information to see when and if adults were diagnosed with hypertension.
I exchanged emails about the study with Crump, who is vice chair for research in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health; below is our conversation.
Why did you decide to look at this?
Low physical fitness and obesity are very common, modifiable, and have an enormous public health impact.
What is the primary lesson from this work?
We found that both overweight/obesity and low aerobic fitness at age 18 were linked with higher long-term risk of hypertension in adulthood. Importantly, low aerobic fitness was a strong risk factor for hypertension even among those with normal body mass index (BMI). These findings suggest that interventions to prevent hypertension should begin early in life and include not only weight control but also aerobic fitness, even among persons with normal BMI.