High Blood Pressure

Also known as: hypertension.

What is high blood pressure?

Blood pressure is a measurement of the force that blood exerts on the arteries as it flows through them. The pressure when the heart is pumping is higher and is known as the systolic pressure. The pressure when the heart relaxes (and fills) is lower and known as the diastolic pressure. Normal blood pressure in children varies with age, sex and height. Charts are available which indicate normal ranges.

Hypertension (high blood pressure) is defined as a child's blood pressure greater than that of  95% of their normal peers.

What causes high blood pressure?

In children hypertension is frequently due to heart defects, kidney and blood vessel abnormalities, genetic and /or hormonal changes and sleep disorders particularly in those children who are obese.

Having a family history of hypertension, high cholesterol blood levels and diabetes are important factors in older children developing essential hypertension.

What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?

High blood pressure is often called the “silent killer” because it typically causes no symptoms. That’s why getting it checked frequently is important particularly if your child has increased risk factors like premature birth, low birth weight, and congenital heart disease.

If the blood pressure is very high, it can cause dizziness, headaches, anxiety, and shortness of breath or nosebleeds.

What are high blood pressure care options?

Management of high blood pressure is typically handled through lifestyle changes (weight loss for obesity, limiting salt in the diet, and increased physical activity), with or without a wide range of available medications.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: September 16, 2020 03:55 PM