Studies have shown that high blood pressure (BP) among children and adolescents is relatively common, although only a few have been conducted in Africa. Scientists from the Mwanza Intervention Trials Unit (MITU) recently published a report in the journal of Scientific Report – Nature which shows that adolescents with high BP in Tanzania can be identified in school settings and linked to routine health care services. This study was conducted in 2018 among 500 students aged between 11-15 years from three public secondary schools within Mwanza city.The report published was based on the study aimed to describe the procedures which could be used to accurately measure BP among adolescents and to determine the burden of high BP in this population. The study involved taking BP measurements using an automatic digital BP machine at three different occasions spaced at an interval of more than a month. Participants with sustained high BP had their BP status confirmed using a portable BP machine programmed to automatically record BP measurements every 15 minutes over 24 hours.
Dr Mussa Kelvin Nsanya – a researcher at MITU and the study lead author – said that, “Adolescents with high BP in Africa can be identified using multiple BP measurements taken at multiple steps in a span of days to months followed by a 24-hour BP monitoring for confirmation. In addition, schools could save as an effective platform for screening of high BP and raising awareness to cardiovascular diseases”.
Findings from this study showed that 50 out of 500 adolescents (10%) had sustained high BP on repeating BP measurements at three different occasions. Using BP measurements taken over 24 hours, investigators of this study confirmed that 13 (2.6%) adolescents had high BP. MITU scientists are continuing to follow-up participants enrolled in this study in order to identify those with high BP and examine factors related to long-term changes in BP measurements.