Department of Public Health Sciences

Childhood Blood-pressure Tracking Correlations Corrected for Within-person Variability

Gillman, MW, NR Cook, B Rosner, LA Beckett, DA Evans, ME Keough, JO Taylor and CH Hennekens

Stat. Med.. 1992. 11(9):1187-1194.

The correlation coefficient between initial and subsequent blood pressure (BP) measurements is referred to as the tracking correlation. Childhood BP tracking correlations, although positive, have been considered too low to make accurate predictions for an individual. These correlations, however, can be raised substantially by averaging BP over multiple weekly visits in each year, which partially accounts for within-person variability. In a cohort of 333 school children, we measured BP 3 times on each of 4 successive weekly visits, in each of 4 consecutive years, using a random-zero sphygmomanometer. Approximately 90 per cent of subjects had data for one or more follow-up years, and 75 per cent of subjects who entered in the first year had data for all four years. With a model that allows estimation of correlations and that uses all available longitudinal data, we calculated tracking correlations completely corrected for within-person variability, the statistical equivalent of measuring BP on an infinite number (infinity) of visits and measurements per visit. Age-sex adjusted tracking correlations for 3 years of follow-up based on the means from 1, 2, 3, 4, and infinity visits are, for systolic BP, 0.43, 0.56, 0.62, 0.66, and 0.73, respectively, and for diastolic BP, 0.20, 0.37, 0-46, 0.50, and 0.70, respectively. With longer follow-up, the use of corrected tracking correlations would allow determination of the maximal extent to which childhood BP can predict adult levels, and therefore the usefulness of screening to identify children at high risk of developing hypertension.

Keywords: Biometry; Blood Pressure; Epidemiologic Methods; Hypertension, Predictive Values; Follow-up; Childhood; Children; Tracking; History; Models

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