Objective: To determine the prevalence of hypertension and pre-hypertension on the basis of the 2004 National High Blood Pressure Education Program Working Group guidelines in an adolescent school-screening population.
Study design: Cross-sectional assessment of blood pressure (BP) in 6790 adolescents (11-17 years) in Houston schools was conducted from 2003 to 2005. Initial measurements included height, weight, and 4 oscillometric BP readings. Repeat measurements were obtained on 2 subsequent occasions in students with persistently elevated BP. Final prevalence was adjusted for loss to follow-up and logistic regression used to assess risk factors.
Results: BP distribution at initial screen was 81.1% normal, 9.5% pre-hypertension, and 9.4% hypertension (8.4% Stage 1; 1% Stage 2). Prevalence after 3 screenings was 81.1% normal, 15.7% pre-hypertension, and 3.2% hypertension (2.6% Stage 1; 0.6% Stage 2). Hypertension and pre-hypertension increased with increasing body mass index. Sex, race, and classification as either at-risk for overweight or overweight were independently associated with pre-hypertension. Only classification as overweight was associated with hypertension.
Conclusions: Application of new classification guidelines for adolescents with elevated BP reveals approximately 20% are at risk for hypertension. Further research determining the significance of each BP category and refining definitions to account for BP variability is warranted.