A new article published in the European Heart Journal has linked about 90% of cases of hypertension (high blood pressure) in children and adolescents to being inactive, consuming excess salt and sugar, and having pre-obesity or obesity.
The article reviewed current literature on hypertension among children and adolescents ages 6–16 years old. It explored definitions, measurements, evaluation, treatment, and more regarding hypertension in this age range. Recent studies have shown that hypertension is increasing in children, and much of the rise is linked to a corresponding rise in obesity. The rises in both obesity and hypertension are partially due to increases in inactivity and poor diets among younger people.
The authors noted that parents are one of the most important influences on their children’s health, and it is recommended that families work together to improve hypertension through nutrition and exercise. Lifestyle changes are usually recommended as the first step in improving hypertension, and physical activity and dietary adjustments are often the most important change. For children, parent/family participation can make a major difference in outcomes. Realistic goals, education, a smoke-free environment, and a reward system that encourages healthy choices are also effective strategies for improving hypertension in children and young adults.
High blood pressure is important to address because it can damage the arteries and make them less elastic, which limits blood flow. It forces the heart to work harder to pump blood around the body, which can lead to heart damage and increase the risk of major issues like heart failure or heart attacks. Hypertension often shows no symptoms, so it is very important to monitor blood pressure regularly and address it early, especially in children and adolescents.