Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hypertension … in kids!

When we think about high blood pressure, we associate this with getting older and watching our sodium intake. But an article in the Wall Street Journal brings to light a dangerous trend in adolescent and pediatric hypertension. The fact that more and more children and teenagers are showing evidence of hypertension means that they are on an early trajectory for heart attacks, strokes and other serious problems. Studies quoted in this article indicate that an estimated 5% of people age 18 and under have hypertension, which is up from about 1% three decades ago. This is largely due to an increasing number of overweight and obese children. Indications are that this estimate is actually on the low side. “The good news is that most young people can achieve healthy blood pressure and reverse the accumulated bad effects by increasing physical activity, improving their diet and losing weight. Medicines generally aren't required.”

The following steps are recommended so you can monitor and prevent high blood pressure and its risks in children:

  • Know your child’s blood pressure. Starting at age 3 blood pressure checks should be part of the annual check up
  • Incorporate a regular program of physical activity as part of everyday life
  • Plan time away from the house and the television
  • Reduce unhealthy eating
  • Reduce salt in daily diet
  • Include more fruits and vegetables in the diet

According to the report the diagnosis is not a life sentence. A regular program of physical activity for at-risk children can lead to significant reductions in blood pressure and improvements in the health of their arteries.

SIRC Reference: Winslow, Ron. (2010).Doctor’s Focus on Kids’ Blood Pressure. Wall Street Journal, June 29, 2010. Retrieved from the Internet October 6, 2010.

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