Kids' High Blood Pressure Often Overlooked

From Drugs.com - October 30, 2017

Kids' High Blood Pressure Often Overlooked

MONDAY, Oct. 30, 2017 -- 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 release.

Children with high blood pressure can develop the same long-term 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.


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