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Circulation. 1984 Feb;69(2):242-9.

Level, trend, and variability of blood pressure during childhood: the Muscatine study.


On alternate years from 1970 to 1981 blood pressure has been measured in school children living in Muscatine, Iowa. A total of 4313 children beginning at 5 to 14 years of age have been examined on three to six occasions. To compare blood pressures throughout the period of observation, each value was expressed as a percentile rank. For each subject the average percentile rank (level), the trend in rank, and the variability over time were calculated. Values for height, weight, relative weight, and triceps skinfold thickness were expressed in the same fashion. The relationship between average rank of blood pressure and average rank of body size as well as between trend of blood pressure and trend of body size percentiles were significant (p less than .05). These observations indicate the importance of relative rate of growth in the establishment of the rank order of blood pressure. Using the variables of level, trend, and variability, we identified groups of children who appear to be consistently tracking toward future hypertension: 233 (5.4%) children, whose systolic levels were in the upper quintile with either a flat or rising trend and low variability, and 280 (6.0%) children with systolic levels in the lower four quintiles with high trend and low variability. In addition there were 321 (7.4%) children whose mean systolic levels were in the upper quintile with high variability and who thus resemble adults with labile hypertension. There were similar numbers of children with diastolic pressures showing these features.

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