The Hypertension Program at Boston Children’s Hospital was developed specifically to treat children, adolescents, and young adults with high blood pressure (hypertension). Our clinical staff brings together a number of providers from various sub-specialties who work as a team to provide the most consistent, comprehensive, and personalized care..
High blood pressure can come in two forms:
Primary (essential) hypertension means that there is no obvious underlying cause for the high blood pressure that can be attributed to a disorder of the heart or kidneys or some hormonal imbalance. Primary hypertension can run in families so it is thought there may be inherited factors that can interact with aspects of an individual’s lifestyle to cause the high blood pressure.
- About 35 percent of the children and adolescents we see in our program have primary hypertension.
- The incidence of primary hypertension in school-aged adolescents has nearly doubled in the last 30 years. This is believed to be associated with the steady increase in childhood obesity rates.
- Lifestyle modifications are an important part of our treatment for all patients. We emphasize that weight control, exercise, and a healthy diet will help improve blood pressure and overall health.
Secondary hypertension means that the elevation in blood pressure is caused by another medical condition.
- About 65 percent of the children and adolescents in our program receive treatment for secondary hypertension. Underlying causes for secondary hypertension include kidney, heart, and blood vessel disease, or endocrine/hormonal imbalances. In addition, a number of medications may result in elevated blood pressure.
- Children with suspected secondary hypertension undergo a thorough evaluation with initiation of directed therapy whenever possible. Since we work within Boston Children’s Hospital, our clinical staff is able to communicate directly with other specialists and facilitate referrals when appropriate. This collaborative effort allows us to provide optimal treatment for each child or adolescent.
No matter what the underlying cause of an individual’s high blood pressure, the team of specialists in the Hypertension Program works to implement a treatment plan that can yield both short-term and long-term results.
We offer a full spectrum of care to children from infancy to young adulthood who have high blood pressure.
Every member of our clinical team has experience treating high blood pressure in children, adolescents, and young adults with a wide range of medical conditions. Many of the pediatric patients we care for have high blood pressure as a result of kidney disease, such as reflux nephropathy and polycystic kidney disease (PKD), or because of abnormalities in the blood vessels supplying the kidney (renal artery stenosis). We also know that children with endocrine disease, heart disease, and those who receive bone marrow or organ transplants may develop high blood pressure. We work with the child’s entire medical team to determine what aspects of care can be improved to prevent worsening of hypertension.
At a visit to the Hypertension Program at Boston Children's Hospital, children are seen by nephrologists, nutritionists, nurses, and a social worker who specialize in identifying the different needs of children with high blood pressure and navigating through the health care system to put a treatment plan in place. This includes setting up school-based blood pressure monitoring and home monitoring programs to track blood pressure, as well as guidance regarding medication administration and compliance.
Our mission is to maintain a systematic, consistent, and effective approach to evaluating children, adolescents, and young adults with high blood pressure, while assuring coordinated and individualized care tailored to fit the needs of each patient.
Click here to view a full list of programs and services offered by the Hypertension Program at Boston Children's.
Visiting the clinic
The Hypertension Clinic at Boston Children’s is held on the first and third Wednesday afternoons of every month on the fifth floor of the Fegan Building at the main campus. Children are seen by pediatric nephrologist Michael Ferguson, MD, or pediatric nephrologist Deborah Stein, MD.