3 Tips For Identifying And Managing Pediatric Hypertension

Health & Medical Blog

Pediatric hypertension is a condition that is often overlooked, even by medical professionals. Early identification of hypertension in children can help find the underlying cause and develop ways to minimize the impact of hypertension before it causes irreparable damage.

Be Attentive

As a parent, being attentive to problems with your child can encourage your family doctor to be more thorough in identifying hypertension. For example, some parents may notice their child's feet and ankles swell, especially at night and during the warmer weather. Your child may favor salty foods and/or become dehydrated easily in the warmer weather. Headaches can be a common occurrence if your child has hypertension. Since these are all signs that are associated with hypertensive adults, they may be easily overlooked in children.

Ask About Your Child's Blood Pressure

Your child should receive blood pressure screenings at each appointment. Do not be afraid to ask your child's doctor if their blood pressure is considered normal for their age. Normal blood pressure for children is more complex than adults. For adults, there is a single number that is considered normal, so it is much easier to gauge whether an adult has hypertension. A child's blood pressure should be compared against percentile rankings for their age, sex, and height. Do not be alarmed if your child has an elevated blood pressure since this can occur for many reasons. Once your child's doctor is aware of an elevated blood pressure, they might want to perform regular blood pressure checks. You might even consider purchasing a blood pressure monitor for home use, since "white-coat hypertension" can also occur in children.

Speak With A Specialist

If your child's doctor notices chronic problems with hypertension, referral to a specialist is necessary. A pediatric cardiologist can perform tests to help rule-out cardiovascular abnormalities that may contribute to hypertension. Testing usually consists of an electrocardiogram (EKG), which can detect abnormal heart rhythms and electrical activity. In many cases, pediatric hypertension occurs without any obvious cause (idiopathic) and can be managed through a combination of lifestyle changes and possibly medications.

The cardiologist may also recommend additional blood work to be performed by your child's doctor. For example, blood work to rule-out autoimmune diseases should be performed, especially if your child has other symptoms, such as fatigue or joint pain. Although many autoimmune diseases can affect the heart, lupus is most notable for affecting the heart and can be misdiagnosed as any number of other conditions.

Pediatric hypertension is becoming more common, especially because of an increase in childhood obesity and poor dietary choices. Early detection can help minimize the likelihood of damage.


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