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Role of muscle mass in the association between handgrip strength and blood pressure in children and adolescents.

Studies have reported conflicting results on the association between handgrip strength (HGS) and blood pressure during childhood and adolescence. High multicollinearity involving somatic components that influence both HGS and blood pressure might be an important source of bias. This study sought to investigate the independent effects of HGS and muscle mass on blood pressure levels in children and adolescents. Muscle mass and fat mass (Multifrequency Electrical Bioimpedance) and systolic (SBP) and diastolic (DBP) blood pressure (Automatic oscillometric device) were assessed in 833 volunteers aged 6-18 years, of both sexes. Handgrip strength-for-age quartiles were calculated and participants were assigned to groups by HGS quartiles. Analysis of covariance was conducted to address the linear association between HGS and SBP adjusted for height, muscle mass, and fat mass. To test for linear trend, contrast analysis was conducted. Partial eta-squared was used to confirm or rule out a small significant effect of the independent variables on SBP. The effect size of HGS on SBP was not significant in both sexes. In girls, 1.7% of the between-groups variance in SBP was accounted for by muscle mass (P = 0.016). In boys, 2.3% and 1.8% of the between-groups variance in SBP was accounted for by muscle mass (P = 0.001) and height (P = 0.005), respectively. In conclusion, children with a more advanced physical maturity for their age, that is, who are taller, stronger, and have greater fat-free mass, may be nearly reaching the physiological parameters of adulthood, and consequently have higher systolic blood pressure.

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