High blood pressure or hypertension in children is characterized when the blood pressure levels are the same or higher than 95 percent of other children who are of the the same sex, age and height as your child. There is no normal target blood pressure measure that can indicate high blood pressure in children because what's considered normal changes as children grow. High blood pressure in children less than 6 years of age is mostly caused by another medical condition. Older children can develop high blood pressure for the same reasons adults do include excess weight, poor nutrition and lack of exercise. Lifestyle changes, such as eating a heart-healthy diet and exercising more, can help reduce high blood pressure in children. But for some children, medications may be necessary.
Your child's blood pressure should be checked regularly during all the appointments starting at age 3, and at every appointment, if your child is found to have high blood pressure, it should considered seriously. If your child has an underlying health condition, that can increase the risk of high blood pressure, including premature birth, low birth weight, congenital heart disease and some kidney diseases. Blood pressure checks should start as an infant. If you are concerned about your child having a risk factor of hypertension, then you can make him/her talk to the doctor. Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Rajiv Chhabra, Chief Pediatrics, Artemis Hospitals Gurgaon, about the symptoms, causes and treatment of high blood pressure or hypertension in children.
Symptoms of high blood pressure in children
According to Dr. Rajiv, high blood pressure usually does not cause any symptoms in children and is mostly asymptomatic. But, there are signs and symptoms that might indicate a high blood pressure emergency or also called a hypertensive crisis. These symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
High blood pressure in children causes
There are no symptoms in high blood pressure in children but there is a definite need to identify the underlying cause. The possibility of finding a cause is less, but is easier than adults. According to Dr. Rajiv, here are the main causes of hypertension in children:
- Kidney disease
- Birth defects
- Heart problems
- Endocrinological problem
Treatment for hypertension in children
In children, chances of high blood pressure can be reduced by adopting a healthier lifestyle.In most cases these lifestyle changes can also help to treat it, it makes our body respond better to the medications and prevent complications. You must watch your child's diet and their weight, it is a myth that fat children are healthy, any child who is overweight should be watched and promoted to get himself involved in physical activities.
High blood pressure in children can be easily controlled after diagnosis of the exact cause of high BP. Once we control the cause, blood pressure issue is automatically resolved. A thorough diagnosis is done because high blood pressure in children is rare and might be a side effect of other diseases. Doctors goes through the entire medical history of the child. Physical examination is done and you must get the BP checked at least two or more times because sometimes reading can be incorrect due to cuff size, problem with the machine. Blood pressure reading can also be high under some stress/fear or some vigorous physical activities.
If your child gets diagnosed with mild or moderate high blood pressure levels (stage 1 hypertension), your child's doctor will mostly suggest trying some lifestyle moderations, such as a heart-healthy diet and more physical activity, before prescribing medications. But, with children, the treatment is not like adults at all. Reducing salt diet will not help in controlling blood pressure levels in kids and proper medication and treatment is required for them. As per Dr. Rajiv, if your child is diagnosed with severe high blood pressure levels (stage 2 hypertension), your child's doctor will most probably recommend blood pressure medications, just like with adults.
So, these were the symptoms, causes and treatment of high blood pressure or hypertension in children by Dr. Rajiv Chhabra. If your child's high blood pressure is being caused by obesity, losing weight can help making medications unimportant. In other cases, treating other underlying medical conditions of your child can help in controlling his or her blood pressure levels.
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