NHANES are surveys conducted by National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which provide “cross-sectional, nationally representative health examination data on the US civilian, noninstitutionalized population.”
CDC researchers, in collaboration with colleagues from Wake Forest University School of Medicine Department of Epidemiology and Prevention, North Carolina, conducted an analysis of NHANES data from the following years: 1988 to 1994, 1999 to 2002, and 2003 to 2006. These are data of children and adolescents in the age range of 8 to 17 years old. The researchers specifically looked at the elevated blood pressure (BP) and estimates of BP before reaching elevated levels.
BP was measured and classified based on the update guidelines in the Fourth Report on the Diagnosis, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure in Children and Adolescents. The results of the data analysis showed that overweight and obese children and adolescents are more likely to suffer from elevated BP.
Hypertension or above normal BP is common among adults. However, there is increasing indication that elevated BP is also becoming a problem among children as well. This is troubling because other research studies have shown that high BP tracks through life, and that “BP levels measured in childhood and adolescence are also associated with elevated BP in adulthood.”
Hypertension is well-known risk factor for chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disorders (e.g. heart attack, heart failure, stroke) and kidney disease. However, hypertension can be managed with lifestyle change strategies.
High BP in children has been also linked to other health conditions.
Sleep breathing disorder is a condition “characterized by short periods of upper airway obstructions that are complete (apnea) or partial (hypopnea), or a longer period of insufficient air movement (obstructive hypoventilation).” This sleep disturbance leads to restless sleep, snoring and daytime sleepiness. Sleep breathing disorder, which seems to cause hypertension, has been associated with obesity and enlarged nostrils.
Other studies have linked high BP to lack of physical activity among children and adolescents, as reported by British researchers. The study was part of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children.
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