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BACKGROUND: Recent studies have discovered that α-globin is expressed in blood vessel walls where it plays a role in regulating vascular tone. We tested the hypothesis that blood pressure (BP) might differ between normal individuals and those with α+thalassemia, in whom the production of α-globin is reduced. METHODS AND RESULTS: The study was conducted in Nairobi, Kenya, among 938 adolescents aged 11 to 17 years. Twenty-four-hour ambulatory BP monitoring and arterial stiffness measurements were performed using an arteriograph device. We genotyped for α+thalassemia by polymerase chain reaction. Complete data for analysis were available for 623 subjects; 223 (36%) were heterozygous (-α/αα) and 47 (8%) were homozygous (-α/-α) for α+thalassemia whereas the remaining 353 (55%) were normal (αα/αα). Mean 24-hour systolic BP ±SD was 118±12 mm Hg in αα/αα, 117±11 mm Hg in -α/αα, and 118±11 mm Hg in -α/-α subjects, respectively. Mean 24-hour diastolic BP ±SD in these groups was 64±8, 63±7, and 65±8 mm Hg, respectively. Mean pulse wave velocity (PWV)±SD was 7±0.8, 7±0.8, and 7±0.7 ms-1, respectively. No differences were observed in PWV and any of the 24-hour ambulatory BP monitoring-derived measures between those with and without α+thalassemia. CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that the presence of α+thalassemia does not affect BP and/or arterial stiffness in Kenyan adolescents.

Original publication




Journal article


J Am Heart Assoc

Publication Date





adolescence, ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, α+thalassemia, Adolescent, Blood Pressure, Blood Pressure Monitoring, Ambulatory, Case-Control Studies, Child, Cross-Sectional Studies, Female, Humans, Kenya, Male, Pulse Wave Analysis, Vascular Stiffness, alpha-Thalassemia