Blood pressure is the measure of blood pushing against blood vessel walls as the heart pumps blood throughout the body. When a person has high blood pressure—also called hypertension—the blood pumps faster than normal, putting increased pressure and force on the blood vessels as it moves through the body. If left unchecked, high blood pressure can lead to serious health complications in adulthood, such as heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and blindness.
There are three types of high blood pressure:
Factors that increase a child's risk for developing high blood pressure include:
High blood pressure generally has no symptoms. For this reason, it is important to have your child's blood pressure checked at least once a year by his or her primary care physician during regular checkups or well-child visits. This is especially true if any of the above risk factors apply to your child. An early diagnosis will result in better treatment outcomes.
High blood pressure is diagnosed through a simple measurement that involves placing an inflatable cuff on your child's arm. The measurement may be taken by a doctor or nurse and only takes a minute. To determine whether your child has white coat hypertension, blood pressure checks done at home or at school might also be used.
Blood pressure is measured with two numbers: the systolic pressure and the diastolic pressure. The systolic pressure (sometimes called the "top number" in a blood pressure reading) is the pressure as the heart squeezes to push blood through the vessels. The diastolic pressure (sometimes called the "bottom number") is the pressure as the heart relaxes between heartbeats. A healthy blood pressure in children is determined by gender, age and height. The doctor will determine if your child's blood pressure is healthy based on these factors.
Treatment for high blood pressure in children includes:
If your child has an underlying condition that is causing high blood pressure (secondary high blood pressure), treatment of the underlying condition can also help lower the blood pressure.
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