New dangerous trend emerges in American children – Childhood Hypertension is on the increase.
It used to be said that hypertension is an adult disease with no real relevance to children. This is now confirmed to be a myth. A recent study published online on 18th June 2012 confirmed that hypertension is as relevant in american children as in adult. Its medical and cost implications might even make it more relevant than adult hypertension. And since we are talking about children, the relevance becomes more obvious because interventions at this stage might prevent a lot of problems in the later years.
The study was carried out by Dr. Tran et al. They obtained discharge records from the US Healthcare and Utilization Project (HCUP) Kids’ Inpatient Database from 1997, 2000, 2003, and 2008. They found that hypertension-related hospitalization nationwide nearly doubled, from 12,661 in 1997 to 24,602 in 2006. Money spent on caring for inpatient hypertensive children also increased by 50% to an estimated figure of $3.1 billion over the 10 year period.
Dr. Cheryl L. Tran, the lead author of the study told heartwire the figures were “surprising and alarming”. Dr. J. Samuels (University of Texas Health Science Centre at Houston Medical School) who wrote an accompanying editorial on the study said the findings “have provided the first glimpse of the growing economic impact that hypertension in children is playing.” He further said “This important study helps dispel some of the remaining myths about paediatric high blood pressure. The biggest myth is that hypertension is an adult disease with no real relevance to children.”
The Study authors as well as Dr. Samuels believe Obesity to be one of the main underlying factors driving this rise in hypertension amongst children. Dr. Samuels said “These significant increases in blood pressure are likely riding the waves of paediatric obesity that is spreading across America.”
Dr. Samuels said one of the myths surrounding paediatric hypertension is that it is mostly due to secondary causes. He said the growing prevalence of obesity means the most common diagnosis here is essential hypertension. He claims that it is false to say that childhood BP is unrelated to adult hypertension because multiple studies have demonstrated tracking of hypertension into adulthood. Also, up to 30% of children diagnosed with hypertension already have evidence of vascular injury, including left ventricular hypertrophy.
We have started seeing the western trend/pattern of lifestyle in our environment and childhood obesity that was once very rare is now common in developing world. It will not be a surprising to see the same trend in childhood hypertension mirrored in our countries in Africa and South East Asia.
So, Take Home Points:
Since we may not have the same capacity to fight obesity and hypertension with the attendant complications, prevention is the key.
Our children should not be fed with fast foods and high sugary drinks.
Exercise should be encouraged.
Consumption of natural foods and fruits should be encouraged.
Doctors are to be aware of the rising trend of childhood hypertension in developed countries and have high index of suspicion for the condition especially among the affluents in the developing countries. Early detection means we can do something about it on time thus avoiding progression and complications.
We need good record keeping in our public and private health institutions in order to be able to carry out such studies as done by Dr. Tran et al and be in position to compare our findings with what obtains in developed countries.
Your comments and contributions on this article are welcome and even solicited so that we all can gain from this discussion.
- Trans CL, Ehrmann BJ, Messer KL, et al. Recent trends in healthcare utilization among children and adolescents with hypertension in the United States. Hypertension 2012; DOI:10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.111.188813. Available at: http://hyper.ahajournals.org.
- Samuels J. The increasing burden of pediatric hypertension. Hypertension 2012; DOI:10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.112.197624. Available at: http://hyper.ahajournals.org.
Credits: Medscape Today News