Causes of High Blood Pressure in Children

By Marissa Black

  • Overview

    High blood pressure is often associated with people who are middle aged or older. However, hypertension can also affect children regardless of their age. According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure in childhood often results in high blood pressure as an adult. High blood pressure in children must be identified so that parents can implement a healthy lifestyle to lower their child's blood pressure while they are still young,
  • Primary Hypertension

    Primary hypertension (also known as essential hypertension) in children is the label given to high blood pressure when there is no underlying illness or disease that can be identified as the cause. There are several potential causes for primary hypertension in both children and adults. If a child consumes a diet that is high in salt or eats too many foods high in fat, hypertension can develop. Children with abnormally high levels of triglycerides or cholesterol are at risk for hypertension in childhood or adolescence. The same is true for children and adolescents who are overweight and live too sedentary of a lifestyle. If a child has a parent with a history of high blood pressure, he or she might inherit the condition.
  • Secondary Hypertension

    High blood pressure in children is often linked to a particular illness or disease. For example, children who suffer from heart disease or other vascular diseases can present with high blood pressure. Kidney disease and dysfunction can result in high blood pressure. It is important to note that high blood pressure can cause even more of a deterioration in the function of kidneys that are not functioning properly. Children with Type 1 diabetes often present with hypertension. Hyperthyroidism and other hormone disorders can result in high blood pressure in children. When hypertension is a symptom of or caused by a disease or illness, it is labeled as secondary hypertension.


  • Other Factors

    Sometimes medication and other factors can cause a temporary increase in blood pressure. Cold medicines often raise a child's blood pressure when the medicine is active in their system. Children on prescription steroid treatments for a variety of ailments, might experience an increase in blood pressure until their round of steroid treatment ends. In teenage girls who are taking birth control pills, an increase in blood pressure might be present. A child's blood pressure might be elevated if they are permitted to drink a large quantity of caffeinated beverages as well.
  • Treatment

    Treating the causes of high blood pressure is not easy for a child with serious underlying conditions such as heart or circulatory diseases and kidney dysfunction. Secondary high blood pressure can be difficult to mange unless the primary disease is treated or controlled. Children with primary high blood pressure can benefit from a healthy diet and an active lifestyle. A child's pediatrician might refer him or her to a dietitian in order to assist both the child and parent in planning healthy meals. Parents should limit their child's intake of sodium, keeping in mind that fast food and prepared foods are often high in salt. In some cases, a doctor might even need to prescribe medication in order to control a child's high blood pressure.
  • Prevention

    The risk of a child developing high blood pressure can often be reduced when a child and his or her family takes preventative measures. Parents should work hard to provide a healthy lifestyle for the health and well being of the entire family. Parents should not facilitate obesity and excess weight in their children. They need to prepare healthy meals for the entire family. Fast food and other processed meals that are high in sodium and fat should only be eaten on occasion. Parents should be active with their children. Staying physically fit as a family can be as simple as taking an evening walk each day. Parents need to consult with their child's pediatrician if they believe their child is overweight.
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