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Elevated blood pressure in children

A national study shows that elevated blood pressure is increasing in children and adolescents.

The risk of elevated blood pressure among children and adolescents, age 8 to 17, rose 27 percent during a thirteen-year period, according to new research by the American Heart Association. Dr. Ramzi Souki, assistant professor of pediatrics at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, explains the study.

“... obesity and increased salt intake are important risk factors in developing elevated blood pressure in adults and the goal of this study was to demonstrate if the same effect is noticed in children, given the fact that we know children are becoming more obese and their waist circumference is getting bigger in general compared to their peers 20 years ago...”

Dr. Souki says blood pressure in children is measured differently than in adults. Children whose blood pressure is higher than 95 percent of children of the same sex with the same height are considered to have high blood pressure. He suggests some dangers of the disease.

“... we do know that if a child has elevated blood pressure during their childhood, they are at higher risk of developing the irreversible injury that happens to major organs in the body including the brain and the kidney and the heart.”

Dr. Souki encourages parents and children to manage their weight, reduce sodium intake, become more physically active and monitor their blood pressure.  If the pressure is high, they should be seen by a primary care physician to check for more serious health problems.

Ruth Slottag