Univariate genetic analysis of blood pressure in children (The Medical College of Virginia Twin Study)

Richard M. Schieken, Lindon J. Eaves, John K. Hewitt, Michael Mosteller, Joann N. Bodurtha, William B. Moskowitz, Walter E. Nance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The relative contributions of genetic, individual environmental and shared environmental effects on resting blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR) were studied in prepubescent twins. The study population consisted of 251 caucasian 11-year-old twin pairs. Correlations were higher for all variables in monozygotic twins compared to dizygotic twins; this is consistent with a significant genetic effect. Path analysis revealed that the model of additive genetic and individual environmental effects fit systolic BP, diastolic BP and HR. In boys and girls, sex-specific genetic effects controlled systolic BP. The magnitudes of the sex-specific genetic effects on systolic BP were similar in both boys and girls and accounted for 66% of the variance. In boys, for diastolic BP, genetic effects accounted for 64% of the variance while in girls they accounted for 51%. These results provide no evidence for different genetic effects on HR in boys or girls. No shared environmental effects were detected. The large sample size and design, using different-sex dizygotic twins of the same age, establish that genes play an important role in the influence of resting BP and HR and that there are sex-specific genetic contributions in early pubertal children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1333-1337
Number of pages5
JournalThe American journal of cardiology
Issue number19
StatePublished - Dec 1 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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