Researchers reveal pediatric hypertension has nearly doubled in the United States
Hypertension affects an estimated 50 million Americans and is one of the leading causes for cardiovascular disease. Pediatric hypertension is now commonly observed and poses long term health risks to children.View slideshow: High Blood Pressure Prevention - Kids
This nationally-based study is the first in which researchers examine hypertension in children and hospitalizations.
Researchers used discharge records from the Healthcare Costs and Utilization Project Kids Inpatient database for the years 1997, 2000, 2003 and 2006.
If high blood pressure in children is not treated it can eventually lead to damage to the heart, kidneys, brains and eyes.
The research had revealed overall the most common diagnosis among hospitalizations among children were pneumonia, acute appendicitis and hypertension. When hypertension was the primary diagnosis, headache, obesity, lupus, convulsive disorder was the most common secondary diagnosis.
Researchers found overall the average hospital stay for children with high blood pressure has doubled in comparison to those of other ill children, eight days to four days.
The findings also revealed charges for inpatient care for hypertensive children had increased by fifty percent, costing an estimated $3.1 billion. That amount does not include outpatient charges, those figures are not known nationwide. The most major increases in healthcare charges were children with hypertension and end stage kidney disease.
Experts believe that childhood obesity just may be the cause of this increase of hospital stays for children who have high blood pressure.
Dr. Cheryl Tran, MD, pediatric nephrology fellow in the Department of Pediatric Nephrology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, lead author of study states "A child with high blood pressure is at increased risk for having high blood pressure in adulthood and the heart and stroke risks that come with that diagnosis.”
According to the American Heart Association, hypertension is present in one to three percent of children in the United States. Among children ages two to nineteen years old, 31.7% are overweight and 16.9% are obese.
This new study appears in the journal Hypertension.
In kids, high blood pressure is defined as a blood pressure greater than the 95th percentile for their age, height, and gender (in other words, 95% of kids of the same age, height, and gender will have blood pressure below this number), according to Kids Health.
A study published by the National Blood Heart and Lung Institute note that due to the increasing numbers of overweight and obese children is largely in part responsible for high blood pressure in children. Blood pressure should be checked in children on a regular basis. If your child’s blood pressure appears to be consistently high, make an appointment with your child’s physician as soon as possible so they can start treatment if necessary.
A pocket guide to children’s blood pressure by the National High Blood Pressure Education Program Working Group on High Blood Pressure in Children and Adolescents.
The guide is available in a free download in pdf format at National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute.