New research has identified that an increase in insulin resistance has a part of play in how arterial stiffness leads to increasing blood pressure among adolescents.

Arterial stiffness – the stiffening of the arterial wall – is known to be a risk factor for hypertension, the ‘silent killer disease’. However, there are gaps in knowledge as to the mechanisms of how blood pressure is raised among people of a normal weight who lead active, healthy lifestyles.

The latest research shows that it is not body fat, but an increase in insulin resistance that is the link between arterial stiffness and the indirect raising of blood pressure.

Obesity is known to increase a person’s risk of developing hypertension, and more recent research has shown that arterial stiffness is also a risk factor for younger people.

This latest study set out to explore whether increased body fat or insulin resistance play a role in the link between arterial stiffness and blood pressure, which could lead to the development of lifestyle interventions among the younger population.

Dr Andrew Agbaje, a clinical epidemiologist at the University of Eastern Finland, said: “We found that arterial stiffness indirectly raised blood pressure in adolescence via the insulin resistance pathway.

“It is nonetheless surprising that increased body fat was not a pathway through which arterial stiffness raised blood pressure in this general population of adolescents.

“Until results from clinical trials on reducing arterial stiffness in adolescents are available, it may be important for paediatricians and public health experts to focus on encouraging healthy lifestyle choices that lower insulin resistance thereby potentially lowering blood pressure.

“Increasing physical activity, reducing screen time, quitting smoking or vaping, reducing salt and sugar intake, increasing vegetable and fibre portion of diet, and having optimal daily sleep are healthy lifestyle choices.”

The study has been published in the journal Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine.



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