Current Content
Volume 33, Number 4
July/August 2007

Prevalence of Behavioral and Physiological Risk Factors of Hypertension in African American Adolescents
Maureen McCormick Covelli

African American (AA) adolescents are twice as likely to develop high blood pressure in early adulthood as other groups. Continuous existence of risk factors in adolescents may be precursors to adult cardiovascular changes. The purpose of this study was to describe the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors in a sample of AA adolescents.

Method: A secondary analysis was conducted on data obtained from a sample of AA adolescents (N = 48; 32 males and 16 females) ages 14–17 years from a larger study. Factors included family history of hypertension (FHH), diet, exercise, blood pressure, and cortisol levels before and after physiologic stress.
Findings: Thirty-one participants (65%) had positive FHH, 35 (73%) had three or less serving of fruits/vegetables per day, 41 (85%) reported exercising less than three times per week. Of the participants, 14 (29%) had elevated blood pressure, 30 (63%) had cardiovascular reactivity, 32 (67%) had elevated cortisol, and 23 (48%) had cortisol hyper-responsivity. Ninety-four percent had four or more risk factors and 44% had six or more.

Discussion: This study demonstrates the increased prevalence of physiological and behavioral risk factors in this adolescent population.