It has been well established that high blood pressure is associated with heart disease and poor lifestyle habits among adults. A recent study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health explored these relationships among adolescents participating in Project Healthy Schools. Students were separated into two groups, based on their blood pressure before the PHS intervention:
- Abnormal blood pressure (>90th percentile for systolic and/or diastolic blood pressure, or blood pressure >120/80mmHg).
- Normal blood pressure (<90th percentile for systolic and/or diastolic blood pressure, or blood pressure <120/80mmHg).
Unfortunately, more than 1 in 4 PHS students had abnormal blood pressure (28.3%). Prior to the PHS intervention, students with abnormal blood pressure were more likely to be overweight or obese and had higher total cholesterol, triglycerides, random glucose, resting, and recovery heart rates than students with normal blood pressure. The abnormal blood pressure students also had worse dietary (non-diet and diet soda) and sedentary habits (television and video game screen time).
After the PHS intervention, students with abnormal blood pressure had significantly greater reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, compared to students with normal blood pressure. This suggests school-based health interventions like PHS may be an effective first step in health management among adolescents with abnormal blood pressure.