Hypertension In Children – Alarming New Trend

Courtesy of thedailystar.net

Courtesy of thedailystar.net

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.”

Courtesy of blackcelebkids.com

Courtesy of blackcelebkids.com

Myths Busted

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.

Developing Countries

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.



  1. 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.
  2. 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 

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5 comments for “Hypertension In Children – Alarming New Trend

  1. June 23, 2012 at 6:42 am

    The whole obesity thing in kids pisses me off like hell. Some parents are just in the habit of letting their kids do and eat whatever they feel like and it’s totally wrong.

    My colleagues has lost adult twins to Diabetes cos of this monstrous obesity issue of a thing.

    Sad to hear HBP in creeping in too.

  2. Maggideboy
    June 23, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    This article is really a wake up call especially with us emulating everything western this days.
    Another point is that this may seriously be under diagnosed due to the non availability of the proper cuffs to check the blood pressure of children who fall within the category under discourse.

  3. Steve
    June 23, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    As mentioned above, this is really a wake up call. We need to act before we slip into the same mess these Americans find themselves in today. The call to action is now.

    Obesity is gradually becoming a problem because we adults want to give our children all those luxury we missed as youth. Fast food, sedentary life sitting in front of TV all day playing games instead of outdoor excersices. This trend has to stop if we really love our children as we claim.

    Then the question of children sphygmomanometers for measuring the BP in children. How many clinics and hospital have one? The attitude of our doctors too must change. Our health institutions should have good records departments so that we can carry out a comparative study to show what really obtains in our region.

    I sincerely pray that we have the will and motivations to make these changes for the sake of our children and the health of our nation.

  4. June 24, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Obesity along with inactivity are the main avenues for many illnesses in children. A child does not belong in front of a TV screen or video game. Children should learn to play outdoors and run around. This keeps them fit. Healthy eating is also a great idea too.

    Parents have more role to play in this to ensure that their kids are healthy!

  5. July 11, 2012 at 6:05 am

    I have just stumbled onto this post!

    It is so sad to hear that children can also be hypertensive.

    the need for the right dietary habits is of course key, just like the need to eschew sedentary lifestyles.

    But this dietary thing..

    for those living in the cities, you wake up in the morning, get the children prepared for school, while simultaneously getting yourself ready for work. TIME is at a premium. you want to be fast, so as to be punctual. you end up preparing and giving your children food that can be prepared in five minutes.they take fizzy drinks along with their lunch packs. And the cycle repeats itself. day in, day out.

    you know it is not right, but you are almost powerless to do anything you arrest the do situation.

    for me. tackling the nutritional challenge (due to lack of time) is the real problem. I imagine it is for lots of.city dwellers, too

    it needs extra effort to give the children (and yourself!) the right kind of food.

    most children are naturally hyperactive. so I doubt if the obesity thing applies to lots of children~ especially in the underdeveloped world.

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