Liv Hospital Ulus Pediatric Nephrology Specialist Assoc. Dr. Mehmet Taşdemir explained the symptoms, causes and treatment methods of hypertension in children.
Hypertension is an important health problem in children as well as adults. Studies conducted in various countries, especially the United States, reported the prevalence of hypertension in children as 4 percent on average. Although there is no clear data in our country, high blood pressure in childhood and adolescence causes cardiovascular diseases at an early age and therefore requires follow-up and treatment.
How do I know if my child has hypertension?
Hypertension is the upper limit of blood pressure determined according to age, gender and height in children. While hypertension in children may not cause any symptoms, mild and moderate hypertension can manifest itself with different complaints such as headache, palpitation, sudden and unexplained flushing of the face, and visual disturbances. Severe high blood pressure can lead to neurological problems such as seizures and confusion, serious visual disturbances, and severe heart and vascular problems.
Blood pressure measured once is not sufficient for diagnosis.
In children older than 2 years of age, blood pressure should also be measured as part of the routine examination. Only a single measurement height alone is not meaningful, but it is important in the diagnosis of hypertension that the measurements are high in repeated numbers and at least 3 different days. In children, a blood pressure monitor with a suitable cuff according to arm diameter and length should be used. We pay attention to the validation of the device and do not prefer devices that measure from the wrist.
Obesity is a cause of hypertension in childhood.
Since the most common cause of hypertension in children is kidney-related, the follow-up of the disease is followed by pediatric nephrologists, unlike adults. Structural anomalies and vascular problems of the kidney become more common as the age decreases, while causes such as obesity, endocrine disorders and unexplained factors (idiopathic) become prominent towards adolescence. Studies show that each unit increase in body mass index doubles the risk of hypertension. Gender is also a factor affecting the frequency of hypertension. It is more common in boys than girls.
Those with a family history of hypertension are at risk.
Fifty percent of children with hypertension have a family history of hypertension. This situation is thought to be related to genetic predisposition and environmental factors. In addition to a detailed disease history and examination to investigate the causes, we perform some blood and urine analyzes and an ultrasonographic examination to evaluate the kidneys.
Lifestyle change is necessary
Hypertension is a disease that can have negative effects on all organ systems, especially on the eyes, heart and vessels. For this reason, recommended lifestyle changes and treatments should be applied when diagnosed.
The treatment for the found cause or causes is planned by the physician. Regular follow-up is essential and the frequency of examination should be determined by the physician.
Basically, we have two treatment methods.
- lifestyle change
- Weight loss (especially for those with obesity problems)
- Dietary change (low salt, healthy foods, avoiding fast-food diets)
- 20-30 minutes of exercise a day (exercise such as walking, swimming, cycling should be determined by the doctor)
- Giving up sitting still for a long time in front of the TV or computer
- Medications for the cause, if any, should be selected by the doctor.
- In case of any side effects, the doctor should be contacted and changes should be made if necessary.
- Medication should be used regularly.