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Normal Blood Pressure and Heart Rate in Children

Harvard Health Publications
2007 Copyright Harvard Health Publications

Question:

What is the normal blood pressure rate and heart rate in children (ages 8, 10, and 12)?

Answer:

Blood pressure is how hard the blood is flowing against the walls of blood vessels in the body. It is good to be asking about normal blood pressure values for children because most people think "high" blood pressure (hypertension) is something that only happens to adults. This is hardly the case, as about 5 percent of children have it, too. High blood pressure often does not cause any symptoms in children, but if not treated, it can cause serious health problems in the future.

In children, blood pressure and heart rate (how many times the heart is beating each minute) normally vary with age. While blood pressure tends to get higher with age, heart rate tends to get lower with age. In addition, a taller person tends to have a higher blood pressure because more "pressure" is needed to pump the blood around the body.

While I cannot answer your question exactly, the numbers do not change that much from year to year. In fact, blood pressure and heart rate in older children are not that much different from adult values. For boys and girls around your children's ages, normal blood pressures would be around 110 to 120 (systolic) over 70 to 80 (diastolic), and heart rates would range from 50 to 180. Having a blood pressure above these normal values on one occasion does not necessarily mean that a child has high blood pressure. Before a child is said to have high blood pressure, the readings would need to be high on three separate occasions, a few days or even weeks apart.


Leann M. Lesperance, M.D., Ph.D., is a lecturer on the Harvard Medical School faculty and a clinical assistant professor at SUNY-Upstate Medical University. She practices pediatrics in Binghamton, New York. She also holds a doctorate in medical engineering and is a research assistant professor in the Department of Bioengineering at Binghamton University.


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Harvard Health Publications Source: from the Harvard Health Publications Family Health Guide, Copyright © 2007 by President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved.

Used with permission of StayWell.

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