High blood pressure currently affects about 30% of adults in the United States. Now doctors are seeing that high blood pressure is increasing in teens and kids.
High Blood Pressure is Increasing in Teens and Kids
On Monday, new guidelines were released to support doctors in finding and looking for signs of high blood pressure in their younger patients. The guidelines state that doctors are missing the signs about 75% of the time.
A 16-year-old girl from Damon, Texas missed her entire freshman year of high school because of undiagnosed high blood pressure. She weighed about 220 pounds at the time and did not eat a healthy diet. She did play softball, but it wasn’t enough to counteract her otherwise unhealthy lifestyle.
The girl, Cheyenne Cameron, told NBC News that, “I felt like a car was sitting on my chest. Like a heavy chest pressure, and I was lightheaded. I felt horrible. I was helpless…My illness took a toll on me emotionally and physically. I felt drained. I was always tired.”
Her family began to worry but didn’t know how to treat her since there were no obvious signs. Katie Cameron, Cheyenne’s mom, said, “It did not occur to me that it could be high blood pressure bothering Cheyenne because I just didn’t think that could even be possible for a 15-year-old.”
Dr. Joshua Samuels, a pediatrics professor and the McGovern Medical School at UT Health in Houston, Texas, said “We have seen an increase in children’s blood pressure over the last decade or so. 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.”
Hypertension is not often associated with kids and teens. The newly released guidelines, however, found that about 3.5% of younger people have hypertension compared to the past 1-2%. High blood pressure is increasing in teens and kids and is now in the top 5 chronic diseases for these age groups.
The guidelines were developed by a committee of 20 people and were based on about 15,000 reviewed articles about the correct evaluations, diagnosis, and management of high blood pressure in teens and kids. Doctors are recommended to focus more on doing routine checks and tests so they can catch hypertension signs before it becomes a bigger problem.
NBC News medical correspondent Dr. John Torres stated, “High blood pressure is a silent killer that takes its toll on the body over time. That means you can’t tell if someone has high blood pressure just by looking at them, you need to do an actual blood pressure measurement.”
For Cheyenne, losing weight by eating healthier was enough to lower her blood pressure to a normal level. Teens and kids’ diets should be monitored by their parents and encouraged to eat healthier and live an active lifestyle. These habits will carry over into adulthood and affect their health for years to come.