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This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in American Journal of Hypertension following peer review. The version of record Falkner, B. (2018). The childhood role in development of primary hypertension. American Journal of Hypertension, 31(7), 762-769 is available online at:


Primary hypertension is not just an adult disorder. Current US population data on children and adolescents demonstrate a prevalence of elevated blood pressure (BP) and hypertension combined of over 10%. Recent reports from prospective cohort studies describe an association of high BP in childhood with hypertension in young adulthood. Excess adiposity is strongly associated with higher BP in childhood and increases risk for hypertension in adulthood. In addition to overweight/obesity, other exposures that raise the risk for high BP include low birthweight, dietary sodium, and stress. Using intermediate markers of cardiovascular injury, studies on hypertensive children report findings of cardiac hypertrophy, vascular stiffness, and early atherosclerotic changes. Impaired cognitive function has also been demonstrated in hypertensive children. Recent advances in clinical and translational research support the concept that the evolution of primary hypertension begins in childhood.

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