Objective: To establish whether the blood pressure (BP) of young adults is related to their physical or behavioural attributes.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Subjects: A total of 11,284 males and 3491 females who attended the University of Glasgow between 1948 and 1968.
Outcome measures: Systolic and diastolic BP.
Results: Body mass index (BMI) and weight were positively associated with BP in males and females. Height had a small positive association with male systolic BP and female diastolic BP. Haemoglobin levels were associated with raised BP in females. Albuminuria was associated with raised BP in males but not females. Smoking and alcohol consumption were associated with small negative effects on BP, although the measurement of alcohol consumption in the study was crude, and these results may not be free of confounding. Insufficient outdoor exercise was associated with higher BP in females but not males. No social class gradients in BP levels were seen, although having a higher number of siblings was associated with slightly lower BP in males.
Conclusion: The results from the current study indicate that modifiable risk factors, such as weight and exercise affect the BP of young adults. The impact of these factors, coupled with the known tracking of BP from adolescence to adulthood, emphasise the importance of healthy behaviour patterns in young people.