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Prevalence and risk factors for hypertension in Hong Kong Chinese adolescents: waist circumference predicts hypertension, exercise decreases risk


Purpose To determine the prevalence, risk factors for and patterns of hypertension in Chinese adolescents based on a territory-wide school based screening programme in Hong Kong.

Methods Cross-sectional anthropometric and oscillometric blood pressure (BP) measurements and lifestyle information were obtained as part of a growth survey of students from randomly selected secondary schools in Hong Kong. Those with blood pressure ≥95th centile were screened a second or third time. Hypertension is defined as elevated blood pressure on three separate occasions. The independent effects of age, sex, body mass index, high waist circumference (≥85th centile), sleep duration, family history of hypertension and frequency of exercise on hypertension were explored by multivariate analysis.

Results Among the 6193 students screened, the prevalence of elevated blood pressure on the first, second and third screens was 9.54%, 2.77% and 1.44% respectively. Hypertension was more likely to be systolic. High waist circumference (≥85th centile) was independently associated with a higher risk of hypertension (adjusted OR 2.4), while exercising twice or more per week was protective (adjusted OR 0.28).

Conclusions The prevalence of hypertension in Hong Kong Chinese adolescents is 1.44%. The current study shows high waist circumference is a predictor of hypertension in adolescents, while increased physical activity is a protective factor. Incorporating waist circumference into screening protocols may increase the sensitivity of cardiovascular risk stratification. Healthcare providers should be strong advocates helping to prevent obesity and promote physical activity in adolescents and children.

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