New Hypertension Guidelines Warn Of Increasing High Blood Pressure Among U.S. Teens, Children

Researchers from children’s hospitals nationwide indicate that they discovered an increasing number of youth being diagnosed with hypertension, while new guidelines regarding the treatment of pediatric high blood pressure were being developed. 

New childhood hypertension guidelines were issued in the August issue of the medical journal Pediatrics, by the Subcommittee on Screening and Management of High Blood Pressure in Children, which is part of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The increased rate of pediatric hypertension was discovered while updating the guidelines for the first time since 2004.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is commonly considered a condition for adults. However, more and more children are also being diagnosed, the researchers found. Symptoms may include rapid heartbeat, chest pain, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, nose bleed, exhaustion and confusion.

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Prior estimates indicated that only about one percent to two percent of children and teens had hypertension. Now, estimates indicate more than 3.5% of youth have high blood pressure. In fact, hypertension is ranked in the top five chronic diseases for adolescents and children.

Among the changes to the guidelines, researchers are calling on doctors to offer blood pressure screenings at preventive care visits.

The new guidelines also include new pediatric blood pressure guidelines for normal weight children, a simplified screening table to help identify blood pressure levels which may need further evaluation, a simplified blood pressure classification for teens over the age of 13, and revised recommendations of when to perform an echocardiography to evaluate new hypertensive pediatric patients.

Researchers warn that doctors miss the indications of hypertension in children and teens more than 75% of the time, simply because they don’t expect children to be plagued by the condition. Study authors speculate the rise in high blood pressure may be related to the increasing incidence of obesity in children.

While some children may be able to reduce or eliminate symptoms simply by making dietary changes, others will be required to take blood pressure medications, in some cases the same medications used by adults.

In order to develop the new guidelines, the 20-person committed was convened to conduct a comprehensive review of 15,000 published articles from January 2004 to July 2016. The articles were focused on the evaluation and management of hypertension in children and teens.

The new guidelines are endorsed by the American Heart Association.

Researchers said the guidelines are “intended to foster a patient- and family centered approach to care, reduce unnecessary and costly medical interventions, improve patient diagnoses and outcomes, support implementation, and provide direction for future research.”

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