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Your Child’s Blood Pressure Matters

October 13, 2017
Plain English Version

A child having his blood pressure taken.

Most kids do not have their blood pressure taken when they go to the doctor. Many of them will have elevated blood pressure. Doctors find fewer that one out of four of the cases.

Most children do not suffer because their blood pressure is high. Their problems come later in life. Children with elevated blood pressure become adults with high blood pressure. That leads to heart attacks and strokes.

The treatment of problems when they are younger will mean fewer problems in adulthood.

Normal blood pressure for a child is not based on a simple reading of systolic over diastolic blood pressure. For example, 110 over 70 or 120 over 80. Normal blood pressure in children varies with a child’s age, gender and height.

More and more children have elevated blood pressure. It can result from weighing too much. It can result from eating fast foods that are high in salt. It produces sodium and fluid build up in the blood. It strains the blood vessels that feed the kidneys.

The cause of the high blood pressure is fixable for some children. For most of the kids, it is about the way they live. A scientific group just released a new report on blood pressure in children.

The report includes new guidelines that provide a short, easy-to-use table based only on a child’s gender and age. The report makes it easier to see if a child’s blood pressure is within normal range. Doctors can consult it and even hang the chart in a place where they and parents can see it.

High blood pressure often runs in families. When any member has high blood pressure, other family members should have their blood pressure checked frequently,

A doctor says parents should gently nudge the practitioner. They should ask, “By the way, how is my child’s blood pressure doing?”

Source: The New York Times October 9, 2017

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