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Keywords:

  • Hypertension;
  • Blood pressure;
  • Heart rate;
  • Cardiovascular reactivity;
  • Psychological stress;
  • Racial differences;
  • Children

ABSTRACT

After measuring blood pressure and heart rate at rest and during a video game procedure in 477 children enrolled in 3rd grade, 434 (91%) children had these measurements repeated a year later in 4th grade. Black children demonstrated greater blood pressure and heart rate reactivity than White children in both years, and an increase in heart rate reactivity from 3rd to 4th grade. Gender effects were inconsistent. Systolic and diastolic blood pressures during the video game were more highly correlated from year-to-year than were the resting measures. Regression analysis indicated that systolic reactivity was significantly related to subsequent systolic pressure at rest, particularly among Black girls. Diastolic reactivity was associated with subsequent resting diastolic pressure only among White children. Associations between reactivity and future blood pressure were independent of initial resting blood pressure. This study suggests that cardiovascular reactivity to psychological stress may be one important factor in future level of blood pressure and that the increased heart rate reactivity of Black children may be associated with the prevalence of hypertension among Black adults.