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How Common Is Hypertension in Children?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 17 September 2016
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Hypertension, also called high blood pressure, isn't common in children, but it isn't as rare as it was in the past, and the incidence of this condition is rising among children and teens. The average, healthy child, however, is unlikely to struggle with this condition; it is more common among children who have other health problems, such as kidney disease or lupus. It is also more likely to develop in children who are overweight and have other family members with hypertension. Additionally, children who have high cholesterol or type-2 diabetes are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure.

Historically, hypertension has been a problem for adults and only a rare concern for children and adolescents. In recent years, however, high blood pressure has become a growing problem among children and teens. It has yet to reach levels at which experts would call it common, but it is no longer only a rare concern.

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The assessment of hypertension in children differs from that of high blood pressure in adults. Instead of considering a numerical value, doctors usually apply a comparison in determining whether or not a child has hypertension. Usually, a child is said to have hypertension if his blood pressure reading matches or exceeds that of most children who are similar to him in terms of age, weight, height, and gender. For example, if a child’s blood pressure is higher than 95 percent of children who are the same height, weight, age, and gender, he is said to have hypertension.

The average healthy child or teen is unlikely to have high blood pressure. The condition is more likely to develop in connection to other health problems. For example, children with kidney disease, heart conditions, or lupus are more likely to have hypertension. Disorders or tumors of certain glands also increase a child's risk for it. Additionally, a child who has hyperthyroidism has a heightened risk as well.

The development of hypertension in children is also more common among those who are overweight or have high cholesterol levels. A child may also have a higher risk if he has type-2 diabetes. Likewise, hypertension in children is more common among those who have close family members with high blood pressure.

Since the rate of hypertension in children is growing, parents may be interested in ways of preventing its development. To this end, parents may seek effective medical care for their children's health conditions and encourage healthy lifestyles. Providing a healthy, well-balanced diet and encouraging children to exercise may help as well.

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