Emergence of ethnic differences in blood pressure in adolescence: the determinants of adolescent social well-being and health study

Hypertension. 2010 Apr;55(4):1063-9. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.109.142935. Epub 2010 Mar 1.


The cause of ethnic differences in cardiovascular disease remains a scientific challenge. Blood pressure tracks from late childhood to adulthood. We examined ethnic differences in changes in blood pressure between early and late adolescence in the United Kingdom. Longitudinal measures of blood pressure, height, weight, leg length, smoking, and socioeconomic circumstances were obtained from London, United Kingdom, schoolchildren of White British (n=692), Black Caribbean (n=670), Black African (n=772), Indian (n=384), and Pakistani and Bangladeshi (n=402) ethnicity at 11 to 13 years and 14 to 16 years. Predicted age- and ethnic-specific means of blood pressure, adjusted for anthropometry and social exposures, were derived using mixed models. Among boys, systolic blood pressure did not differ by ethnicity at 12 years, but the greater increase among Black Africans than Whites led to higher systolic blood pressure at 16 years (+2.9 mm Hg). Among girls, ethnic differences in mean systolic blood pressure were not significant at any age, but while systolic blood pressure hardly changed with age among White girls, it increased among Black Caribbeans and Black Africans. Ethnic differences in diastolic blood pressure were more marked than those for systolic blood pressure. Body mass index, height, and leg length were independent predictors of blood pressure, with few ethnic-specific effects. Socioeconomic disadvantage had a disproportionate effect on blood pressure for girls in minority groups. The findings suggest that ethnic divergences in blood pressure begin in adolescence and are particularly striking for boys. They signal the need for early prevention of adverse cardiovascular disease risks in later life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Anthropometry
  • Asian People
  • Black People
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • London / ethnology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Quality of Life*
  • Self Concept
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Behavior
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • White People