"An increase in blood pressure in response to stress is associated with an increased risk for developing high blood pressure later in life," according to Wilson. "A high stress response, called blood pressure reactivity, is a sign that the person may be at risk for developing high blood pressure later in life."
Among the 23 youths living in the low-SES environment, the 12 teens whose parents had attended college reacted less to the video game than teens whose parents had a high school education or less. For instance, diastolic blood pressure -- the pressure when the heart is at rest between beats -- increased an average 13 mm/Hg for adolescents whose parents had less education, nearly twice the 7 mm/Hg rise in the teenagers whose parents had more education, she says.
African-American teenagers are about twice as likely to develop high blood pressure in early adulthood, as are Caucasian adolescents. Individuals of both races in low-income neighborhoods may be at greater risk for developing high blood pressure in early adulthood, says Wilson, a health psychologist. High blood pressure greatly increases the risk of stroke, heart attack and kidney failure. One in five Americans has high blood pressure.
Co-authors include Laura Plybon, M.S., and Domenic A. Sica, M.D.