High Blood Pressure in Children
Blood pressure is the force of blood that the heart eject against the walls of the arteries as blood travels through the body. Chronic hypertension (high blood pressure) is a well-known risk factor for stroke, coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease, and kidney failure. Although most of these complications are usually seen in adults, long-term studies have shown children with hypertension are at higher risk for developing these complications during adulthood. Moreover, hypertension is usually found in combination with other conditions that increase the risk for development of cardiovascular problems. These conditions include obesity, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia.
In children, hypertension is defined as a systolic (top number) or diastolic (bottom number) above the 95th percentile for the child’s age, sex and height. Over the past few decades, hypertension has become more prevalent in the United States.
In most instances, no causes of high blood pressure can be identified. However, certain abnormalities of the heart, the kidneys, and the endocrine glands are some of the causes of high blood pressure. A number of medications can cause high blood pressure
High blood pressure is known as the “silent killer” because it usually has no signs or symptoms. Although most children with high blood pressure often have no symptoms, some children may complain of headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, malaise, fatigue, and visual disturbances.
Although most cases of high blood pressure in children can be treated with behavioral changes. The American Heart Association recommends the following behavioral treatment for hypertension:
- Low fat and low salt diet
- Daily exercise
- Stress free life
- Weight Loss
- Decrease caffeine intake
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