MONDAY, June 29, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Higher blood pressure is connected to narrowing of retinal arterioles in young children, according to a study published online June 29 in Hypertension.

Giulia Lona, from the University of Basel in Switzerland, and colleagues analyzed the association between central retinal arteriolar equivalent (CRAE) and central retinal venular equivalent (CRVE) diameters and the development of BP over four years in children. Standardized protocols were used to screen 391 children aged 6 to 8 years for BP and retinal vessel diameters in 2014. In 2018, the parameters were assessed using the same protocols in 262 children.

The researchers found that systolic and diastolic BP increased significantly during follow-up (Δ 3.965 ± 8.25 and 1.733 ± 7.63 mm Hg, respectively). A decrease was observed in CRAE (Δ −6.325 ± 8.55 µm) with no significant change in CRVE (Δ −0.163 ± 7.94 µm). Higher systolic BP developed after four years in children with narrower CRAE at baseline (β, 0.78 mm Hg per 10 µm decrease), while children with increased systolic or diastolic BP at baseline developed narrower CRAE at follow-up (β, −0.154 µm per 1 mm Hg; β, −0.02 µm per 1 mm Hg, respectively).

“These findings postulate a bivariate, interdependent temporal relationship between BP and microvascular health in prepubertal children,” the authors write. “Assessment of retinal microvascular health along with BP monitoring can improve cardiovascular risk stratification in early childhood.”

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