Hypertension is a major cause of morbidity and mortality and has been found to track from childhood to adulthood with long term cardiovascular and renal complications. Hence early detection and control in children and adolescents is crucial. This study was conceived to add to the body of evidence on the blood pressure pattern; the prevalence of pre-hypertension and hypertension among primary and secondary school children in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria.
A total of 1,117 children and adolescents aged 6-16 years were recruited into this study from 16 schools (10 primary and 6 secondary schools in Port Harcourt) using a stratified, multistage sampling technique. The average of three blood pressure measurements was taken by the auscultatory method using the standard technique. The weight and height of the subjects were measured using a weighing scale and stadiometer respectively and body mass index (BMI) for age and sex obtained. Data was analyzed using SPSS version 25.
The overall mean systolic blood pressure (SBP) of subjects was 98.6±9.8mmHg while the mean diastolic blood pressure (DBP) was 57.2±8.8mmHg. The females had a significantly higher SBP than males (p<0.01), there was however no significant gender difference in the DBP. The systolic and diastolic blood pressure of the subjects showed a gradual increase with age. Fifty-one (4.3%) subjects had prehypertension (elevated blood pressure) while 52(4.4%) had hypertension. Majority of the hypertensive patients (92.3%) had stage 1 hypertension while 7.7% had stage 2 hypertension. Hypertension was more prevalent in females than males (p<0.001) and overweight/obese children compared to the normal weight and underweight children (p<0.001).
The prevalence of pre-hypertension and hypertension in children and adolescents is high with overweight and obesity being associated risk factors.

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