Reference Values for Exercise Systolic Blood Pressure in 12- to 17-Year-Old Adolescents

Am J Hypertens. 2016 Jun;29(6):747-53. doi: 10.1093/ajh/hpv178. Epub 2015 Nov 11.


Objective: In adults, blood pressure (BP) during exercise has prognostic advantages compared to resting BP, whereas its relevance for children has not been revealed as clearly. Because exercise BP among young subjects might be of clinical importance, we sought to determine reference values in adolescents.

Methods: BP recordings at rest and during a cycle ergometer test (1.5W/kg) were assessed in 492 teenagers (12-17 years) in the Kiel EX.PRESS. Study (EXercise and PRESSure). The resting systolic BP (SBP) values at the 90th and 95th percentile of the German reference population were applied on our resting SBP distribution. The resulting resting SBP percentiles were then used to propose exercise SBP limits.

Results: Of our group, 12.4% exhibited a resting SBP ≥ 90th reference percentile, with 7.9% ≥ 95th percentile. The corresponding age group- and sex-specific percentiles were assigned to the exercise SBP distribution resulting in reference values for high normal and elevated SBP (upper limit, girls/boys, mm Hg): 172/172 for 12-13 years, 174.7/177.3 for 14-15 years, 178.5/201.3 for 16-17 years). Using these limits, exercise SBP values were elevated in 8.1%, 5.5% were within the high normal range. Normal resting SBP but at least high normal exercise SBP was found in 7.7%. In contrast, 7.4% were high normal or hypertensive at rest but normotensive during exercise.

Conclusions: Exercise BP is expected to be of additional use for the evaluation of BP in younger age groups. As long as prognostic data for exercise BP in adolescents are not available, the limits proposed might be considered in clinical practice.

Keywords: adolescents; blood pressure; blood pressure measurement; exercise; hypertension; reference values..

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Blood Pressure*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Reference Values
  • Systole