Lifestyle and family history are main causes for blood pressure

Early detection will help in preventing cardiovascular diseases, study says

High Body Mass Index (BMI) is one of the important indicators of childhood hypertension

HYDRABAD: In a finding that would make parents sit up and take note, a study revealed the prevalence of hypertension in urban school children in city.

Carried out under NICE Foundation School Child Health Care Plan, the cross-sectional study involving 2,500 children between 5-14 years from 10 randomly selected schools found that the prevalence of hypertension was 7.2 per cent (6.6 per cent in boys and 7.9 per cent in girls).

The study which was presented at the recently concluded PEDICON-2010 (47th national conference of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics) bagged ‘V.Balagopal Raju Award’ for best scientific paper. Principal Investigator of the study, K. Pavan Kumar, who is a paediatrician at Mahaveer Hospital, told The Hindu that obesity, eating junk food, sedentary lifestyle and family history of hypertension were the main causes for the high prevalence of blood pressure among children. He said the American Heart Association’s systematic review and meta analysis in 2008 pointed out that there was strong evidence that children in upper percentile of blood pressure levels were more likely to become hypertensive in adulthood and early intervention was important.

He said it was vital for early recognition of hypertension as it would help in preventing cardiovascular diseases, stroke and kidney failure.

Direct correlation

Another significant finding of the study was the direct correlation between higher socio-economic status and hypertension. There were high mean systolic and diastolic blood pressures in children of high socio-economic status and it was attributed to increasing Body Mass Index (BMI) . Also children with family history of hypertension had significantly higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure than children with normotensive parents

Family history

Family history of hypertension was present in 16.8 per cent children with high blood pressure compared to 6.8 per cent in those with normotensive parents.

Observing that hypertension was increasing alarmingly among children all over the country, Dr, Pavan said it’s measurement in childhood was mandatory for early detection. High Body Mass Index (BMI) and family history were important indicators of childhood hypertension and appropriate life-style changes needed to be initiated to prevent blood pressure and its complications. Even a 10 per cent reduction in BMI would bring down BP by 10 to 12mm of mercury.