Neuropsychological characteristics of adolescent boys differing in risk for high blood pressure
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- Ditto, B., Séguin, J.R. & Tremblay, R.E. ann. behav. med. (2006) 31: 231. doi:10.1207/s15324796abm3103_4
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Background: Individuals with established hypertension have been found to display deficits in a number of neuropsychological abilities. In general, these are probably due to structural changes in the brain produced by sustained high blood pressure. However, a potentially important line of research suggests that some of these deficits may extend to younger individuals with less severe elevations of blood pressure, perhaps even children, and thus be related more to risk for hypertension than hypertension per se.Purpose: The objective was to examine the relationships between neuropsychological function and risk for hypertension in children.Methods: Measurements of blood pressure and parental history of hypertension were obtained in 88 French-Canadian 14-year-old boys and used to predict performance on a neuropsychological battery.Results: Boys at greater risk of hypertension by virtue of having a parental history of high blood pressure and normatively elevated systolic blood pressure had significantly lower scores on a verbal learning factor score compared to boys at lower risk. Boys with normatively elevated systolic blood pressure also had significantly lower scores on a spatial learning and memory factor score compared to boys with lower blood pressure. The results could not be attributed to differences in family socioeconomic status.Conclusions: Using a younger sample than typically employed in the area, the results support previous suggestions that some of the neuropsychological characteristics displayed by hypertensive individuals may predate the development of clinically elevated blood pressure and could be associated with risk for the disorder.