BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:
There is controversy regarding the role of high altitude on blood pressure. The goal of this study was to evaluate the blood pressure of children aged 6 to 18 years who permanently lived at sea level in Al Ain (n = 417), the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the Himalayan mountain villages in Pakistan (altitude of 3000 m, n = 372).
Population-based samples of children and adolescents were selected from the Himalayan mountain villages of Pakistan and UAE as part of a global health project for noncommunicable disease prevention. The same anthropometric scales and automated blood pressure monitors were used by trained nurses to measure systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP). Participants classified as being overweight were defined as having a BMI percentile ≥85th and <95th percentile, and obesity was defined as being ≥95th percentile according to the growth charts of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prehypertension was defined as having an SBP or DBP reading that was ≥90th percentile to <95th percentile, and hypertension was defined as having an SBP or DBP ≥95th percentile, according to the age-, gender-, and height-specific guidelines of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Participants were similar with respect to age in the UAE (11.2 years [55.1% boys]) and the Himalayan region (11.1 years [51.6% boys]). A higher proportion of children in the UAE were overweight (15.5%) and obese (13.1%) compared with the Himalayan children (2.2% overweight and 3.0% obese). Mean SBP was significantly higher in Himalayan children than in the children living in the UAE (112.1 ± 12.1 mm Hg vs 107.0 ± 11.8 mm Hg, respectively; P < .001). Similarly, mean DBP was significantly higher in Himalayan children than in those living in the UAE (70.2 ± 15.2 mm Hg vs 62.2 ± 8.8 mm Hg, respectively; P < .001). A higher proportion of Himalayan children had prehypertension (24.7%) and hypertension (15.1%), respectively, compared with their counterparts in the UAE (9.7% with prehypertension and 3.9% with hypertension).
A difference of 3000 m in altitude was associated with higher SBP and DBP in these children aged 6 to 18 years.
- Copyright © 2015 by the American Academy of Pediatrics