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Blood pressure rising in US children

A study published in the American Heart Association journal, Circulation, says blood pressure levels among US children are on the rise, linked to climbing obesity rates

According to a study published in the American Heart Association (AHA) journal, Circulation, blood pressure levels among US children are on the rise, a trend linked to climbing obesity rates. 

The study supports others which have linked increasing juvenile obesity levels with rising blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases.

Researchers examined data from seven US government surveys conducted between 1963 and 2002 on children aged eight to 17 years. They also investigated trends in blood pressure and "pre-high" blood pressure adjusted for age as well as variations among ethnic and racial groups and the impact of increasing obesity rates.

Pre-high blood pressure is defined as either the systolic or diastolic blood pressure falling between the 90th percentile and the 95th percentile. High blood pressure was for readings above this.

The results showed that a one centimetre increase in waist circumference raised the likelihood of high blood pressure by 10 per cent and the possibility of pre-high blood pressure by five per cent.

According to the AHA, the prevalence of high blood pressure and pre-high blood pressure in children and adolescents was on a downward trend between 1963 and the 1988-94 survey, but reversed by 2002.

For example, just over 11 per cent of children and teenagers had high blood pressure in 1980 and fell to 2.7 per cent in the 1988-94 survey. The number of children and teens with high blood pressure rose 3.7 per cent in the 1999-2002 survey, however.

The trend was most pronounced among Mexican-American males, who were included in the surveys for the first time from 1982. The survey found that 5.3 per cent had high blood pressure between 1999 and 2002.

30th September 2008

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