Did you know that children can have high blood pressure? Children, even very young babies, can have high blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends that all children age 3 and older have yearly blood pressure measurements. Early detection is important because high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke in adulthood.
High blood pressure in children can be caused by other diseases—usually heart or kidney disease. This is called secondary hypertension. If the other disease is successfully treated, blood pressure usually returns to normal. In some cases, medicines can cause high blood pressure, but when they’re discontinued, blood pressure usually returns to normal.
Children who are overweight tend to have higher blood pressure than those who aren’t overweight. A special diet and increased exercise may be what the doctor orders for hypertension in overweight children. Oats, a sodium-free food, may be a good addition to this diet as well.
In most cases, treatment of high blood pressure in children involves a combination of diet, exercise and sometimes medication. If your child’s blood pressure is elevated, work with your family’s physician or pediatrician to develop the right treatment plan.