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In diagnosing hypertension at Boston Children's Hospital, we look at two things: whether a child actually has hypertension, and if so, what could be causing it.
Two steps are required to determine whether a child truly has hypertension:
1. There are very clear guidelines about how to measure a child’s blood pressure, but sometimes they aren’t followed, and the results can be misleading. These guidelines include making sure that:
The doctor will then compare the numbers from the blood pressure reading to a chart blood pressure values, to see which percentile your child’s blood pressure falls into.
2. In order to be diagnosed with hypertension, there needs to be a pattern of elevated blood pressure. This pattern can be established in a few different ways:
The next step is to look for any damage to your child’s organs that might have already occurred, and find out what is causing the high blood pressure.
First, her doctors will run screening tests, including:
Based on the results of those tests, other tests may be ordered, including:
It can be challenging to diagnose hypertension in infants because most pediatricians don’t start checking blood pressure until a child is two years old. But if an infant has risk factors for hypertension, her doctors will monitor her blood pressure. These factors include:
Hypertension in an infant has a much higher probability of being caused by an underlying condition, so doctors are very thorough when looking for signs of one. In addition to the diseases and conditions they’d look for in an older child, they’ll also look for blood vessel malformations of the aorta and kidney.
After we complete all necessary tests, our experts meet to review and discuss what they have learned about your child's condition. Then we will meet with you and your family to discuss the results and outline the best treatment options.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”