Do you smoke? You just might be raising your kindergartener’s blood pressure say researchers from the University of Heidelberg in Germany. After tracking thousands of 4- and 5-year olds, of the children with smoking parents, 21 percent were more likely to have systolic blood pressure (the top number in a reading, measured as the heart contracts) in the highest 15 percent, even after adjusting for other heart disease risk factors.
“Childhood blood pressure consistently tracks into adult life,” says Giacomo D. Simonetti, M.D., first author of the study.
“Removing any avoidable risk factors as soon as possible will help reduce the risk for heart disease later on and improve the long-term health of children,” he adds.
The study’s findings suggest that encouraging strictly smoke-free environments may help preserve cardiovascular health not only in adults but also in children.