Hypertension in Children: A Growing Problem

High blood pressure or hypertension in young children is a growing health problem globally. Most of us have thinking that hypertension only affects adults. But that is unfortunately not true. High blood pressure or hypertension can affect people of all ages, even young children. About 1 in 25 teenagers has hypertension or high blood pressure. In small babies, hypertension is usually caused by prematurity or kidneys or heart problems. Obesity, poor lifestyle and too little exercise are the leading causes of primary hypertension in children.

Normal Blood Pressure for a Child

Normal blood pressure for a child mainly depends on three factors:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Height

What Leads to Hypertension in Children?

Hypertension is classified as primary & secondary hypertension. Primary hypertension has no identifiable cause & it’s most common cause of high blood pressure in adults as well as older children whereas secondary hypertension is related to an illness or behaviour.

Risk factors for primary hypertension in both adults & children include:
  • Obesity
  • Inactivity
  • High blood cholesterol levels
  • Smoking
Secondary causes of hypertension in children & adolescents include:
  • Kidney disease
  • Heart disease
  • Use of prescription medication (such as birth control pills or steroid medication) or illegal recreational drugs

Effects of Hypertension in Children

High blood pressure can damage a child’s kidneys, heart, brain and eyes if left untreated. Hence, it is important to treat and monitor high blood pressure as early as possible so that the child can lead a normal and healthy life.

Symptoms of Hypertension in Children

Most people with hypertension don’t have any symptoms, even if they have very high blood pressure levels. However a few people may have certain symptoms like:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Nosebleeds
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Visual Disturbances
  • Irregular Heartbeat
  • Chest Pain
  • Blood in the Urine

Early detection of hypertension is the key

It is highly important to detect & treat hypertension as early as possible. Uncontrolled as well as untreated hypertension can eventually lead to many life-threatening diseases such as kidney failure, stroke, brain damage, etc. Hence, don’t forget to get your child’s blood pressure levels checked on a regular basis.

Also, it is important to make sure that your child has a healthy weight as well as he/she gets enough exercise because obesity and physical inactivity can cause hypertension.