This post is important because study after study has demonstrated that elevated blood pressure in children is correctly diagnosed less than 25% of the time.  This is due in part to the variations in pressure that vary with a child’s age, gender, and height and the need for doctors to consult pages of charts to make a determination.  New guidelines use a simple, doctor-friendly table.

     The recently revised blood pressure guidelines formulated by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology mean that over half of all adult Americans will now be considered to have blood pressure that is too high, 130/80 millimeters of mercury or greater.  It previously was defined as 140/90.  (The first number describes the pressure on blood vessels when the heart contracts, and the second refers to the pressure as the heart relaxes between beats.)

     While children don’t usually suffer the consequences of high blood pressure during childhood and adolescence, unless it is properly treated, the result can be early heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease.  Also, because high blood pressure often runs in families, elevated levels in children often predict high blood pressure in adults, a leading risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.

     Contributors to the prevalence of hypertension in children include consumption of fast foods, processed foods and snacks that are high in sugar (disrupting normal weight), and also high in salt (causing excess sodium and fluid in the blood and an added strain on the delicate blood vessels that feed the kidneys).  Approximately 17% of children aged 2 to 19 are obese, and approximately two million children have hypertension.

     Children between the ages of 3 and 18 should have their blood pressure checked regularly, as it requires three consecutive readings to be conclusive.  For young people who get nervous around doctors, thus raising their blood pressure, new at-home technology makes it possible for parents to take the readings.

     Unless a child’s blood pressure is dangerously high, I primarily recommend dietary and lifestyle changes to address the underlying causes of the high blood pressure, instead of going right to a pharmaceutical medication.  There are also herbs and nutrients that can be helpful in managing blood pressure while we work on dietary and lifestyle changes. (Please click here or on the picture to go to the article.)