Diagnosis of High Blood Pressure to Increase in Teens, Children

High blood pressure diagnoses are set to increase but not for the population you might expect.

According to new guidelines released today by the American Academy of Pediatrics, more children and teens are likely to be diagnosed with hypertension, or high blood pressure. The report notes that the doctors are missing the diagnosis far too often— up to 75 percent of the time. The guidelines were last updated in 2004.

“These guidelines really are a streamline for how to evaluate blood pressure in children and adolescents,” said Dr. Joshua Samuels, Professor of Pediatrics at the McGovern Medical School at UT Health in Houston.

“We have seen an increase in children’s blood pressure over the last decade or so and that’s probably related to the obesity epidemic that we’re seeing in children, but that doesn’t completely explain the increase in blood pressure that we’re seeing.”

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The new report, published in the journal Pediatrics, estimates that 3.5 percent of young people have hypertension an increase from past estimates of 1 to 2 percent placing it among the top five chronic diseases for adolescents and children.

The 20 person committee developed new guidelines after reviewing nearly 15,000 articles on the proper diagnosis, evaluation, and management of hypertension in kids and teenagers. The guidelines include a renewed emphasis on routine blood pressure checks during wellness visits and ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, periodic blood pressure measurements taken over 24 hours, to confirm the diagnosis in those who display borderline or high blood pressures on routine examination.

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The Silent Killer

Cheyenne Cameron, 16, was a healthy young girl who suddenly didn’t “feel right.” This wasn’t merely a case of first day jitters prior to starting her freshman year in high school. She was feeling dizzy and her heart was racing. “I felt like a car was sitting on my chest,” Cheyenne told NBC News. “Like a heavy chest pressure and I was lightheaded. I felt horrible. I was helpless.”

The Damon, Texas native played softball and hoped to join the Fire Department but also struggled with maintaining a healthy weight. When she became sick she feared that she wouldn’t be able to participate in either anymore.

Image: Cheyenne Cameron

Cheyenne Cameron, 16, from Damon, Texas thought she might never play softball ever again after suddenly being diagnosed with high blood pressure.