Is Your Child at Risk of Developing Hypertension?

Hypertension is a health concern traditionally associated with adults, but more and more children are being diagnosed with this condition, leaving parents with questions about how to manage their children’s high blood pressure.

ThinkstockPhotos-104309160There is no target number for hypertension in children. What is considered a normal blood pressure for a child changes as he or she grows. Factors such as age, gender, and height determine what a child’s ideal blood pressure should be. If a child’s blood pressure is at or above 95% of children with the same characteristics.

High blood pressure in children is usually caused by another medical condition such as heart defects, kidney disease, genetic conditions or hormonal disorders. For some children however, hypertension can be caused by lifestyle issues including poor diet and lack of exercise.

As is the case in adults, hypertension in children does cause any symptoms. Unless your child has an underlying health problem, a special visit to your pediatrician to check your child’s blood pressure is not necessary. Your child’s blood pressure should be checked at their annual check-up, beginning at age three. If your child has certain risk factors, such as being overweight or obese, speak with your child’s doctor to determine if closer monitoring is necessary.

The best way to treat your child’s hypertension is to make lifestyle changes. You can start by providing your child a healthy diet high in fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains and reduce the amount of salt in their diet by eliminating salty snacks and paying close attention to the amount of salt you use when cooking. You should also encourage physical activity by limiting time spent in front of the television and on other electronic devices. Make an effort to get the entire family involved in the lifestyle changes because children often learn and imitate the behaviors of their parents.

If these changes in your child’s lifestyle do not reduce their blood pressure, your pediatrician can recommend certain medications, such as diuretics or beta blockers, to address the situation.

If left untreated, your child’s high blood pressure can carry over into adulthood and increase their risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and kidney disease.
Speak to your pediatrician if you think your child is at risk of hypertension. To schedule an appointment at Jamaica Hospital’s Pediatric Ambulatory Care Center, please call 718-206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.