Causes of Sudden High Blood Pressure in Children

By Joan Russell

  • Overview

    Blood pressure is the force of blood flowing through the veins and pushing against the wall of the arteries. Many children today develop high blood pressure due to poor diet and other diseases. There are many different types of diseases that cause high blood pressure in children and treatments that include diet, exercise and medications.
  • History

    Many children suffer from high blood pressure but have no symptoms. Others do have symptoms like chest pain, fatigue, headaches and difficulty sleeping. It is not a disease that doctors think of children having. But more children than before develop high blood pressure. It is a good idea to have your child's blood pressure taken at the yearly medical exam. Some diseases like premature birth, low birth rate, congenital heart disease and urinary or kidney problems make high blood pressure in children more likely. Sometimes high blood pressure is caused by a secondary disease in the child. This cause is more common than other as a reason for most children. Some of these secondary diseases are Type 1 diabetes, adrenal disorders, hyperthyroidism and kidney disease.
  • Significance

    About 4.5 percent of children have high blood pressure. The numbers are increasing due to the rising problem of obesity in children with the modern diet. When children develop high blood pressure the heart has to work harder and arteries are under more strain to carry blood through them. It puts children at risk for a stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and many other diseases. Premature babies often will suffer from high blood pressure. School age children often have the disease due to being overweight. In older children medications like steroids or consumption of alcohol and illegal drugs can be the cause of high blood pressure.

  • Function

    High blood pressure in children is defined as a reading that is 90 percent higher than boys or girls their own age. Since blood pressure readings change as they age their is no normal reading for children. This is one reason the problem goes undiagnosed. Secondary hypertension is caused by a disease in the body. This is the most common type of problem with high blood pressure in children. Primary hypertension occurs on it own due often in older children. It is caused by being overweight, lack of physical exercise, diabetes, high cholesterol, and salt. Children that develop high blood pressure will have trouble with it as adults unless they seek treatment for it. Sleep apnea is another cause of the disorder. Prehypertension is when a child's blood pressure is slightly high and changes in diet and exercise will help. Hypertension stage 1 means the child has high blood pressure and may need medication eventually. Hypertension stage 2 means that child has severe case of high blood pressure and need medication and lifestyle changes.
  • Types

    There are several different diseases that cause high blood pressure in children. One is chronic kidney disease. High blood pressure is a complication of the disease. This is because kidneys are important in keeping blood pressure normal. When children's kidneys are damaged they do not regulate the pressure. Other factors related to this disease are being overweight, African American, and having a family history of the disease. Type 1 diabetes can cause high blood pressure in children because they do not eat enough or eat too much of the wrong foods. It causes narrowing of arteries when not treated soon enough. Heart disease and abnormalities cause high blood pressure in children like coarctation of the aorta which is a narrowing of the aorta. Adrenal gland disorders cause high blood pressure when they produce too much hormones or not enough for the body to function properly. Being overweight is another large cause of high blood pressure in children. It relates to diet and exercise and stress in every day life. One other cause is sleep apnea or when a child does not get enough proper sleep due to snoring or sleep disturbances.
  • Treatment Features

    If you child suffers from any symptoms of high blood pressure having a checkup with a doctor is your first step. The first change that will occur if you don't need medication is diet changes. Sometimes a dietian will design a diet for your child. It should include fresh fruit and vegetables, leans meats and fish, whole grains, dairy and healthy fats. The diet should reduce salt and sugar and include some regular exercise. Some of the medications used for treatment are diuretics these are also known as water pills. They reduce sodium and water in the body helping to lower blood pressure. Beta blockers reduce the amount of work the heart has to do by helping it to beat slower. Other medications known as ACE inhibitors keep the blood vessels from restricting or narrowing. Some medications react with food or other medications so be sure to have your doctor monitor the results carefully when you go.
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