Most people think of hypertension (high blood pressure) as something that affects adults, but in the United States, it’s becoming more and more common among children. In fact, it’s estimated that up to 5 percent of children and adolescents now have hypertension.
While children with hypertension don’t carry the same immediate risks of heart attacks and strokes that adults with hypertension face, high blood pressure can still cause changes in your child’s body, putting her at significant risk for complications later in life. That’s why it should be taken very seriously.
- Hypertension can have physical, behavioral and genetic causes.
- Most younger children with hypertension have secondary hypertension, meaning that it’s the result of a known medical condition, such as kidney, heart or endocrine disorders
- Primary hypertension means that it seems to occur on its own, without being associated with another disease.
- In the early stages of hypertension, children may have no symptoms.
- If left untreated, hypertension can persist into adulthood.
- Hypertension in children can often be treated with lifestyle modification, such as changing to a more healthful diet and increasing physical activity.
- Hypertension is different than pulmonary hypertensionin that hypertension is found throughout the body, while in pulmonary hypertension, hypertension is found only in the vessel that carries blood from the heart to the lungs, known as the pulmonary artery.
How Boston Children’s Hospital approaches hypertension
In the Hypertension Program at Boston Children's, we:
- provide comprehensive care for children and adolescents with high blood pressure
- conduct a thorough evaluation based on a child’s presentation to determine if there is an underlying cause for the elevated blood pressure
- provide guidance to promote reductions in blood pressure reduction through lifestyle modification
- assess any complications of high blood pressure
- promote proper high blood pressure screening throughout Children’s and the greater community
Our experts evaluate and care for children with hypertension in our Boston and Peabody locations.
Reviewed by Michael Ferguson, MD
© Boston Children’s Hospital ; posted in 2011