It is more difficult to diagnose high blood pressure in children due to a changing definition of "normal" as children grow. A recent study evaluated over 15,000 children and adolescents from 3 to 18 years of age for seven years. Approximately one in every 14 children was diagnosed with elevated blood pressure (both hypertension and pre-hypertension). Older children and those with obesity were more likely to have high blood pressure. Unfortunately, less than 19% of those with either hypertension or pre-hypertension were correctly diagnosed in their medical records.
An additional layer of difficulty is the resistance to treatment of pediatric patients by doctors, parents, and children. Nevertheless, high blood pressure exerts its deadly effects on the heart and other blood vessels in both the young and old. Lifestyle changes including weight loss, exercise, and better diet in addition to medication when necessary can prevent heart attack and stroke later in life.
I recommend all parents discuss the risk factors for high blood pressure with a pediatrician. Diagnosing and controlling your child's high blood pressure can save their life down the road.
Click here to read site expert Craig Stoltz's recent blog about the Journal of the American Medical Association study, which suggests that three quarters of kids who have high blood pressure may be undiagnosed.
Published On: August 24, 2007