A Cardiologist has lamented the spike of high blood pressure in children.
The health expert, Dr Okechukwu Anthony described high BP in children as abnormal. He said this health condition if not treated immediately has serious consequences on organ damage.
In a chat with newsmen on Tuesday, Anthony listed some adult illnesses affecting children. They are; diabetes and high blood pressure. He said that these abnormal illnesses in children are often unnoticed. He added that they have become more common in children.
The doctor claimed that parents or their children’s doctors are aware of this health problem.
Dr Anthony ascribed high blood pressure in children to underlying health problems such as obesity.
What is a High Blood Pressure?
He described blood pressure as the imbalance of output of the blood from the heart and the resistance to blood flow in the arteries.
His words, “The greater the resistance, the harder the heart has to work to get oxygen-rich blood to the brain and outer reaches of the body.
“A major consequence of untreated high blood pressure in children is an enlargement of the heart’s main pumping chamber.
“Left ventricle hypertrophy, as this condition is called, can develop in just a few years in children with hypertension.
“If a child’s hypertension is detected and brought under control, the enlargement will regress. But if it’s not treated, it just gets worse and can eventually lead to heart failure.
“Other consequences of untreated hypertension in children include atherosclerosis, the arterial disorder that leads to heart disease and stroke later in life.”
Classes of High Blood Pressure
The doctor said that there are two classes of high blood pressure. They are Primary and Secondary high blood pressure.
Primary High Blood Pressure – When the cause of the high blood pressure is unknown.
Secondary High Blood Pressure – When it arises from illnesses and lifestyle choices.
“Secondary causes of high blood pressure in children and teens include kidney disease and heart disease; prescription of medicine such as corticosteroids or birth control pills; illegal drugs, such as cocaine or methamphetamine.
“Others are endocrine disorders such as overactive thyroid hyperthyroidism and diabetes; mental health causes such as mental stress and anxiety.
“Children are more likely to have high blood pressure if they are overweight, have a family history of high blood pressure or heart disease; or have a mother who smoked during pregnancy.
“High blood pressure often doesn’t cause any symptoms. This is why it is often referred to as the silent killer. It’s often found during a routine visit to a healthcare provider,” he said.
The Cardiologist advised the government to make annual check of blood pressure mandatory in children.
“In general, blood pressures in children should be lower than in adults. In adolescents, for example, a blood pressure of 120 over 80 millimetres of mercury is considered to be pre-hypertension, a condition that sets the stage for full-blown hypertension.
According to him, health providers need to know more about blood pressure in children.
“The more doctors know about the treatment, the more likely they are to make a diagnosis.
“It depends on a child’s sex, age and height, with pressures in the 90th percentile and above should be considered unhealthy.
“Full-blown hypertension in children is defined as pressures in the 95th percentile and above. For adults, only one measure is used to define high blood pressure.
“Nigerian parents, too, are part of the problem of missed diagnosis. Parents have very little awareness that their children could have high blood pressure, and they fail to make sure the doctor checks it and tells them the results.
“Parents should ask at every visit, ‘Did you check my child’s blood pressure, and is it ok?’,” he said.
He also explained that blood pressure should be measured at every 10 minutes intervals for children with high results.
Dr Anthony said that if the results remain high, the child should return for a follow-up visit.
“A diagnosis of elevated blood pressure in children depends on finding a high reading on three separate occasions,” he explained.
Obesity in Children
The Cardiologist advised parents to create goals and plans that would gradually reverse obesity. He emphasized that gradual correction encourages children.
Dr Anthony said the focus should be on eating a low-calorie diet and exercising. He emphasized eating vegetables, fresh fruits, fibre and nonfat dairy and a reduction in dietary salt.
“Others are regular physical exercise towards a goal of 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic activity on most days. A limit of screen time and working toward a maximum of two hours a day, spent on sedentary nonacademic activities,” he said
Source: PUNCH HealthWise