Blood pressure of children and youth, 2012 to 2013

The average resting blood pressure of children and youth aged 6 to 19 in 2012 to 2013 was 96/62 mmHg. Among this group, 95% had a measured blood pressure that was considered normal, 3% had results considered borderline, and 2% were categorized as having an elevated blood pressure (Chart 1).

The results of the 2012 to 2013 Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) indicate that the average resting blood pressure of children aged 6 to 11 was 94/62 mmHg, while youth aged 12 to 19 had an average resting blood pressure of 98/61 mmHg.

The proportion of girls aged 12 to 19 with blood pressure in the normal range was significantly higher than that of girls aged 6 to 11.

Chart 1 Distribution of household population aged 6 to 19, by blood pressure classification, sex and age group, Canada, 2012 to 2013

Description for chart 1

Blood pressure and body composition

Children and youth who were classified as being overweight (99/62 mmHg) or obese (103/64 mmHg) had a higher average blood pressure than normal weight children (94/61 mmHg). Average systolic blood pressure was significantly higher in overweight and obese children compared to those in the normal weight category (Chart 2). Overweight and obese girls as well as obese boys had significantly higher average diastolic blood pressure when compared with their normal weight counterparts (Chart 3).

Chart 2 Average systolic blood pressure (mmHg) of children and youth aged 6 to 19, by body mass index (BMI),1 sex and age group, household population, Canada, 2012 to 2013

Description for chart 2

Chart 3 Average diastolic blood pressure (mmHg) of children and youth aged 6 to 19, by body mass index (BMI),1 sex and age group, household population, Canada, 2012 to 2013

Description for chart 3

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About blood pressure

Blood pressure is a measure of the force of blood against the artery walls, and is expressed as systolic pressure/diastolic pressure in millimetres of mercury (e.g., 120/80 mmHg). The systolic pressure (top number) is the pressure when the heart contracts and pushes the blood out, and the diastolic pressure (bottom number) is the lowest pressure when the heart relaxes between beats.

Resting blood pressure was measured in the CHMS using an automated device (BPTruTM) following a five-minute rest period. The BPTruTM recorded six measurements, one minute apart. The average systolic and diastolic blood pressure were calculated using the last five out of six measurements.

Blood pressure classifications in children and youth
Table summary
This table displays the results of Blood pressure classifications in children and youth Ages 6 to 17 and Ages 18 and 19 (appearing as column headers).
  Ages 6 to 17Note 1 Ages 18 and 19Note 2
Normal SBP and DBP< 90th percentile Mean SBP/DBP< 120/80 mmHg
Borderline SBP or DBP≥ to the 90th percentile, but < the 95th percentile OR
Measured mean SBP/DBP> 120/80 mmHg
Mean SBP of 120-139 mmHg and mean DBP of 80-89 mmHg OR
Mean SBP of 120-139 mmHg and mean DBP< 80 mmHg OR
Mean SBP < 120 mmHg and mean DBP of 80-89 mmHg
Elevated SBP or DBP≥ 95th percentile OR
Respondent reported using BP medication within the past month
Mean SBP/DBPof ≥ 140/90 mmHg OR
Respondent reported using BP medication within the past month

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References

Health Canada. 2003. Canadian Guidelines for Body Weight Classification in Adults. Ottawa.

National High Blood Pressure Education Program Working Group on High Blood Pressure in Children and Adolescents. 2004. “The fourth report on the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of high blood pressure in children and adolescents.” Pediatrics. 114(2 Suppl. 4th report):555-76.

Chobanian, A.V., Bakris, G.L., Black, H.R., et al. 2003. “Seventh report on the Joint National Committee on the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure.” Hypertension, vol. 42, no. 6. 1206-52.

de Onis M, Onyango AW, Borghi E, Siyam A, Nishida C, Siekmann J. 2007. “Development of a WHO growth reference for school-aged children and adolescents.” Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 85(9):660 to 667.

Data

Additional data from the Canadian Health Measures Survey are available from CANSIM tables 117-0001 to 117-0012.

For more information on the Canadian Health Measures Survey, please contact Statistics Canada's Statistical Information Service (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; infostats@statcan.gc.ca).

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