Background: The effect of early hypertension on midlife cardiovascular (CV) mortality remains controversial. We assessed the association of established hypertension in late adolescence with subsequent CV mortality.
Methods: Of 2,298,130 Israeli adolescents (60% males; age 17.4 ± 0.3 years) who underwent a compulsory medical examination prior to military service between 1967 and 2010, 8720 teenagers (0.4%) were formally diagnosed with persistent hypertension. Using Cox proportional hazards modeling, we compared the hypertensive group to the large normotensive group with regard to time to event analysis of midlife mortality due to cerebrovascular accidents (CVA), coronary heart disease (CHD), sudden death (SD) and their summation as cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Results: During 45,729,521 person-years of follow-up, we identified 2918 CV deaths-2879 and 39 among the 2,289,410 normotensive and 8720 hypertensive adolescents, respectively. Hypertension at a young age was associated with a threefold elevation of stroke mortality compared to normotension when adjusted for sex, age at examination, birth year, country of origin, socioeconomic status, education, body mass index (BMI) and height [hazard ratio (HR) 3.12; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.76-5.54; p < 0.001]. There was no significant association of hypertension with CHD mortality or SD. An increased risk for overall CVD mortality among hypertensive youngsters (HR 1.51; 95 % CI 1.10-2.07) was attenuated after adjusting for BMI and other covariates (HR 1.24; 95% CI 0.90-1.72).
Conclusions: Established hypertension at a young age was independently associated with elevated stroke mortality in midlife. This finding warrants confirmatory large-scale long-term follow-up studies to address the distant effects of adolescent hypertension.
Keywords: Adolescent; Cardiovascular disease; Hypertension; Mortality; Screening; Stroke.