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Pediatric Hypertension

Including pediatric hypertension chart, causes, treatment and medication

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Pediatric high blood pressure is hypertension occurring in children and adolescents. In children hypertension is the third most prevalent disease affecting 4 to 5 percent of children. It is only surpassed by obesity (25%) and asthma (7%) out of a total of six childhood recognized most prevalent diseases and conditions. Hypertension in general is classified into two namely primary hypertension and secondary hypertension.

Secondary hypertension is more prevalent in children than adults and is a result of underlying disorders which are usually medical in nature. Primary essential hypertension affects mostly older members of a population and it represents unknown causes of high blood pressure. Hypertension in children is a fairly unique area of study. As a result measuring blood pressure in children is different from taking blood pressure in adults. This means only blood pressure monitors calibrated for children can be used.

To begin with in order to get correct blood pressure numbers for children the correct cuff size will be required. In fact you will need to use cuffs specially designed for children. Blood pressure readings are taken in context to a child's sex, age and height. Pediatric hypertension diagnosis is confirmed when blood pressure readings are established after at least three separate doctor's office visits which are one week apart.

Pediatric high blood pressure is defined as blood pressure greater or equal to 90th percentile of sex, age and height. The following is a classification of hypertension in children and adolescents. It is similar to the stages of hypertension as applied in adults namely prehypertension, stage 1 hypertension and stage 2 hypertension.


Normal < 90th percentile

Prehypertension 90th percentile to < 95th percentile, or if blood pressure exceeds 120/80mmHg even if below the 90th percentile up to <95th percentile.

Stage 1 Hypertension 95th percentile to the 99th percentile plus 5mmHg

Stage 2 Hypertension > 99th percentile plus 5mmHg


Pediatric Hypertension Causes

As stated earlier secondary hypertension is more common in children than adults. This points to the fact that hypertension in children is caused by underlying medical disorders. Once the disorder is addressed the high blood pressure often dissipates. The most commonly known underlying causes of high blood pressure in children are obesity, high blood lipids, diabetes melitus and kidney disease. Heart disease and other cardiovascular ailments in children may also cause high blood pressure.

Signs and symptoms of hypertension in children just as primary high blood pressure remain elusive and hidden in the majority of patients. Due to this reason, doctors encourage that children have their blood pressure taken at least once per year. This is particularly the case for children aged 3 and older.

Pediatric Hypertension Treatment and Medication

Treating hypertension in children will also involve lifestyle modifications. Children must be guided to have regular activity in addition to dietary changes that are lower in salt which contains sodium. Since much of hypertension found in children is secondary hypertension, treatment will involve addressing underlying medical disorders that will be driving the high blood pressure.

Apart from using specific hypertension medications some other pharmacological drugs addressing existing disorders will also be employed as part of the treatment algorithm. There are some children however who suffer from essential hypertension. These children may come from families or family lines that have high blood pressure running.

Research work shows that high blood pressure is more frequent and more severe in families of African Americans than among Caucasians. Medications used to treat hypertension in children include diuretics, beta-blockers and others. Doctors will take into account the following when considering pediatric hypertension treatment and medication;

  • A child's age, general health and medical background
  • Extent of high blood pressure condition
  • A child's tolerance to medication, procedures and treatments

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