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Is Your Child at Risk For Developing High Blood Pressure?

High Blood Pressure is also a "Kids" Problem


Created March 25, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

When it comes to treating high blood pressure in addition to other medical conditions, we are missing the boat.  Yes,we focus on "treating" high blood pressure and  health professionals have "guidelines" for how we can best "treat" high blood pressure. Prehypertension, which was an important aspect of the prior high blood pressure guidelines, does not seem to be a focus of the new high blood pressure guidelines. While I am all for advocating for the "right blood pressure" for the right "target population," we are forgetting one important thing: having high blood pressure is not normal. The focus should be on prevention, not just on treatment. 

This is so important when we consider our children, our future generation. Understanding the damaging effects that high blood pressure can have on other important organs of the body, including the eyes, heart, kidneys, blood vessels, do you know if your child is at risk for developing high blood pressure?

The generation of today's children is different from when we grew up. Recess and going outside to run around has all but disappeared from  many elementary school schedules. Many children do not engage in sports or engage in any type of physical activity. The incidence of childhood obesity and Type II DM among children has risen tremendously. When I see young people having heart problems because of uncontrolled high blood pressure and diabetes we have a societal problem that we need to address. If you are a parent and are reading this article, here are three important questions that you need to know:

* What is your child's Body Mass Index (BMI)This is a measurement that can determine if your child is at risk for obesity. Pediatricians or family doctors who treat children, all record height, weight, and growth charts for every visit. The trending of this clinical information is so important. Certainly as a child gets older there will be an increase in height, weight, and growth. Dramatic changes in weight can be assessed by looking at your child's developmental chart. Here is an article concerning other "high blood pressure" related vital signs. These are important not only for children but for adults as well.

What is your child's blood glucose level? Diabetes is diagnosed if a fasting blood glucose level of 126 on more than 2 separate occasions. Physicians will also diagnose diabetes if there is an elevated glycosylated hemoglobin (or Hemoglobin A1c) level. Even if your child's glucose level is less than 126, that does not mean he is healthy. There is a condition called impaired fasting glucose meaning that the blood glucose is higher than normal (70-110) but not yet diabetes. This condition increases your risk of developing diabetes if lifestyle an nutrition measures are not undertaken. By looking at  the right vital signs as well as the right labs you can determine if your child is at risk for developing metabolic syndrome   Please refer to this article concerning other important "high blood pressure related" labs.

* What does your child eat at school and at home (when you are not around)? While there is a focused effort to improve nutrition in the lunches that many schools provide, as my grandmother told me many times, "where there is a will, there is a way." Kids will be kids and eat where they want to eat. Many kids have cars and fast-food restaurants are extremely popular and very close.  

We want  our children to outlive us. In order for that to happen, we need to take measures now to do all that we can to improve our child's health. It can be extremely difficult to change nutrition and lifestyle habits  as we get older if we don't start when we are young.






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