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High Blood Pressure Hard to Spot in Kids

A recent study has found that high blood pressure in kids often gets missed by health practitioners.

Researchers at John Hopkins Children’s Center studied 2,500 patient records, and discovered that blood pressure readings are skipped about 20 percent of the time.  And because interpreting blood pressure readings is more complicated in children than adults, high readings in children are often ignored.

Researchers discovered that out of the 2,500 records studied, 500 children went without screening.  In the remaining 2,000 cases, 726 had high blood pressure reading scores recorded, but 87 percent of those scores were never followed up on.  Practitioners were more likely to miss high blood pressure in healthy children at low-risk of problems than in overweight or obese children or those with a family history of heart disease.

Though hypertension-related health problems can take years to develop, experts say that occasionally high blood pressure in children can cause a rapid thickening of the heart muscle — something that can be avoided with treatment.

Adult blood pressure readings are pretty straightforward — a normal reading is 120/80 — but in children it involves a complex algorithm based on the child’s age, gender, and height.  John Hopkins is currently testing automated equipment that would sound an alarm if a child’s blood pressure was out of range.

For more about high blood pressure in children, visit the American Heart Association.

Photo: joey.parsons, Flickr

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