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Close up of a doctor taking a child's blood pressure

Kids Can Have High Blood Pressure, Too

Author: CHKD Medical Group, Dr. Mark Downey
Published Date: Monday, September 03, 2018

By Dr. Mark Downey, Pediatric Associates of Williamsburg

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is often thought of as an adult problem, but one in every 30 children has high blood pressure, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Having hypertension means that the pressure of blood against the artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems. Many cases of high blood pressure have no known cause. And because there are few symptoms, it often goes undetected and untreated in children. If left untreated, high blood pressure can damage the blood vessels and major organs, such as the heart, kidney, and brain.

The AAP recommends that children have their blood pressure checked at their annual well visit, starting at age 3. Be sure to ask if your child’s blood pressure was taken and whether it was a healthy reading.

Help your child make the following heart-healthy choices to lower their chance of developing high blood pressure:

Stay at a healthy weight.

Overweight children are more likely to have hypertension, and losing weight can lower blood pressure.

Eat healthy.

Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Limit fatty and sugary foods like cookies, fries, and chips.

Limit salt.

Salt can be found in some surprising places, such as deli meats, pizza, breads, soup, cheeses, and mixed nuts. Many canned and packaged foods contain a lot of salt, so be sure to check the label when grocery shopping.

Be active every day.

The AAP recommends 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Aerobic exercise – like walking, running, swimming, or dancing – can lower blood pressure, strengthen blood vessels, and protect the heart.

Limit caffeine.

Too much caffeine, found in many sodas and coffee, can cause high blood pressure. The AAP recommends that kids consume no more than 100 mg of caffeine a day.

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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.