Kids' high blood pres­sure of­ten over­looked

Sun.Star Pampanga - - HEALTHNEWS! -

One in ev­ery 30 chil­dren in the United States has high blood pres­sure. Now, new guide­lines from the Amer­i­can Academy of Pe­di­atrics may help doc­tors screen chil­dren 3 years and older for the con­di­tion.

"We are see­ing it at far younger ages than we used to," said Dr. Thomas Dis­penza, a car­di­ol­o­gist with Penn State Chil­dren's Heart Group. "As obe­sity rates have risen, we have also seen more com­pli­ca­tions from it."

But "de­tec­tion rates are shock­ingly low. Three-quar­ters of cases are over­looked, and that's a real prob­lem," Dis­penza said in a Penn State Health news rel ease.

Chil­dren with high blood pres­sure can de­velop the same longterm health prob­lems as adults. "It can set kids up for strokes later in life by dam­ag­ing the blood ves­sels," Dis­penza said.

The guide­lines en­cour­age doc­tors to check blood pres­sure at ev­ery well-child visit.

For bet­ter ac­cu­racy, med­i­cal providers should wait three to five min­utes be­fore tak­ing a blood pres­sure read­ing, so that the pa­tient has time to re­lax and calm down af­ter ar­riv­ing in an exam room. The child should also place both feet flat on the floor, with the back sup­ported, and should avoid talk­ing. Right arm read­ings are prefer­able.

The guide­lines are in­tended to help iden­tify signs that war­rant fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion, not for ren­der­ing a fi­nal di­ag­no­sis.

The academy hopes the guide­lines will also as­sist doc­tors in pick­ing up in­di­ca­tions of other ill­nesses. For ex­am­ple, high blood pres­sure among chil­dren un­der 5 could be an in­di­ca­tion of kid­ney dis­ease or an en­docrine con­di­tion. In chil­dren aged 6 and older, it may in­di­cate hard­en­ing of the ar­teri es.

If a high blood pres­sure di­ag­no­sis is made, chil­dren should be slowly tran­si­tioned to a diet that is low-sodium and com­posed pri­mar­ily of plant-based foods (such as the DASH diet), the academy ad­vises.

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