The pressure to be good in their studies, and excel at sports and other activities can cause many children and adolescents to develop hypertension or high blood pressure. It is a condition where the recorded blood pressure (BP) is higher than the prescribed average value expected in a person of a certain age.
Usually considered to be a condition that primarily affects the older population, the past few decades have witnessed an alarming spike in children suffering from high BP in the country. The theme of World Hypertension Day today is ‘Measure your blood pressure accurately, control it, live longer’ and it is important that parents keep an eye on their children’s BP. Here is how:
Measure their BP regularly
Starting at the age of three, ask the doctors to regularly measure your child’s BP during their regular health checkups. There are also many at-home devices that give accurate readings, if you need to record their BP when they start feeling unwell.
Keep an eye on their diet and physical activity
Another way parents can be more proactive is by keeping an eye on what their children eat, maintaining a healthy weight and partaking in regular physical activity. This can lower their blood pressure and also reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases later in life.
Don’t ignore health complaints
Hypertension in kids does not present any symptoms and diagnosis is often delayed. Some children may complain about irritability, sleep disturbances or poor performance in school.
Be mindful of underlying diseases
Children who develop hypertension often have an underlying kidney disease, heart defects or hormonal problems. In recent years, obesity has emerged as a cause of hypertension in the young population and adolescents. The pandemic phase has also been associated with an increased risk of hypertension in the young population.
(With inputs by Dr Kiran Sathe, consultant paediatric nephrology, Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, Mumbai)