While hypertension is a condition that primarily affects adults, high blood pressure is increasingly common in children and adolescents. The causes can range from certain health conditions or taking certain medications to other factors, such as family history, age, weight, etc.
Keep reading to learn more about the causes of high blood pressure in children, how to treat it, and steps you can take to prevent high blood pressure.
Other researchers estimate that between
Pediatric hypertension statistics
The clinical definition of hypertension in children
Adolescents 13 years and older share the same diagnostic criteria as adults. Thus, in this group, blood pressure readings must be 130/80 mm Hg or higher to be diagnosed.
Note: The first (or highest) number is the systolic pressure, or the pressure inside the walls of the arteries when the heart beats. The second number (or lower) is the diastolic pressure, or the pressure inside the walls of the arteries between heartbeats.
There are two types of hypertension in children.
Primary MV is increasingly common in children, but it is even more likely to affect adolescents and adults. This is often due to lifestyle or genetic factors. Older and heavier children are
Risk factors for primary hypertension in children include:
Your child will need further evaluation to determine the cause of the high blood pressure. This may include a visit to a cardiologist for an electrocardiogram (ECG) or echocardiogram. They may also require tests like a urine test or blood tests to check kidney function.
Secondary hypertension is more
Associated conditions include:
Medications or medications that may contribute to high blood pressure include:
Untreated high blood pressure can lead to various health complications as your child grows. The
Complications in adults include:
High blood pressure does not always produce signs or symptoms. In fact, experts say it’s rare to have symptoms of high blood pressure. Some sources even give hypertension the nickname “
That said, when blood pressure is very high (hypertensive crisis), your child may experience one of the following symptoms:
- visual problems
- nausea or vomiting
- chest tightness or pain
- Heart palpitations
When is it an emergency?
hypertensive crisisis a medical emergency. If your child has these symptoms, it is important to get medical attention as soon as possible.
The goal of treating hypertension is to get the child’s blood pressure below the 90th percentile for age, height, and sex. For adolescents, the goal is to get blood pressure below 130/80 mm Hg.
To treat primary hypertension, your child’s pediatrician may first recommend lifestyle changes over 3 to 6 months. They may suggest:
- regular exercise
- a healthy diet
- lower sodium intake
Blood pressure medications are another option your pediatrician may suggest if lifestyle changes aren’t enough to lower your child’s blood pressure. Options include:
- angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- angiotensin receptor blockers
- calcium channel blockers
- thiazide diuretics
These drugs are considered safe for children.
Experts share that there is no consensus on the exact drug to start with when treating high blood pressure in children. Instead, doctors choose on a case-by-case basis. Your child’s pediatrician will usually start with the lowest possible dose and increase it every 2 to 4 weeks if needed.
Treatment of secondary hypertension may require further evaluation and treatment by specialists.
You can’t always prevent high blood pressure. Some cases are the result of underlying health conditions or medication use. If your child has risk factors for health problems that cause hypertension, be sure to talk with your doctor about monitoring your child’s blood pressure to detect problems as early as possible.
In cases where high blood pressure is due to obesity, diet, or inactivity, the following lifestyle measures may help:
- Eat a balanced diet. The
CDCrecommends a diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and less excess sugar and fat. Reducing sodium intake can also help, but talk with a doctor about the appropriate salt intake for your child based on their age and weight.
- Practice a physical activity. Activities like walking, running, biking, and sports help kids move every day. The amount of exercise to get is based on age. In general, children between the ages of 6 and 17 should aim
at least an hourof active time each day.
- Maintain a moderate weight. Talk to your child’s doctor if you have any concerns about your child’s weight. Your doctor can help you create a plan to help your child achieve a weight within the
recommended rangefor their age, size and sex.
If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s blood pressure, consider writing them down and bringing them to your next appointment.
How often should I check my child’s blood pressure?
You can also talk to your pediatrician about having your child’s blood pressure checked more frequently if needed. You may want this if your child has an underlying medical condition, takes certain medications, or has other risk factors.
If you take your child’s blood pressure
Is high blood pressure hereditary?
Yes. Hypertension can be an inherited condition, which means it can run in families. When this is the case, doctors speak of familial hypertension. Beyond that, the
Why should my child see a nephrologist if he has high blood pressure?
High blood pressure affects the kidneys. Also, high blood pressure is a common symptom in children with chronic kidney disease.
Over time, high blood pressure can affect kidney function, making it difficult to pass body fluids and waste products. This can create a
If your child’s blood pressure is high, a pediatrician may suggest making an appointment with a kidney specialist (nephrologist) for further evaluation.
Hypertension is a medical condition that is increasingly affecting children in the United States. High blood pressure may have no symptoms, so it is important to have a
With prompt treatment and lifestyle changes, you can help your child avoid other health problems associated with high blood pressure as they grow.