Could Your Child Have High Blood Pressure?
You may think high blood pressure is a health burden only for adults. But the truth is, children and teens can have high blood pressure, too. Unfortunately, this condition often goes unnoticed in children because it typically has no symptoms.
Keep in mind, though, it’s never too early to start healthy habits that will help protect your child from high blood pressure and other health conditions later in life.
The Surprising Truth About High Blood Pressure
Due to a lack of symptoms, that best way to determine whether or not your child has high blood pressure is to test it. In adults, a healthy blood pressure reading is below 120/80 mmHg. But in children, that healthy level can be much lower. And it can vary a lot, depending on a child’s age, sex and height. For instance, an older boy will tend to have higher normal levels than compared with a younger girl.
While determining a healthy blood pressure level across children of all ages is next to impossible, it’s important to identify what a healthy level is for your child. One of the best ways to do this is to make blood pressure screenings a regular part of your child’s routine doctor’s appointments. Over time, you will identify what is considered normal or healthy for your child.
If your child ever has 3 or more readings that are above their normal level, it may be time to talk to your doctor about additional testing and treatment options.
Preventing & Treating High Blood Pressure
There is no doubt that high blood pressure can be a dangerous condition, especially during childhood years. Fortunately, there are many easy ways you can help to lower blood pressure and to help prevent it in the future. Here’s how:
Learn more about your child’s risk factors. One of the main culprits behind high blood pressure is excess weight; work with your child’s doctor to help determine a healthy weight. Family history can increase your child’s risk for high blood pressure, too.
Hold the salt. Some of children’s favorite foods, often conveniently packaged and processed, tend to be high in salt. Make sure to keep an eye on these top sodium sources: breads, cheeses, deli meats, pizza, chips, crackers and frozen foods. Sneak a peek at the nutrition label to spot foods with too much sodium.
Enjoy more home-cooked meals. You can then better control how much salt and fat are in the foods your family eats. Focus on healthy fare, such as lean meats, low-fat dairy and lots of fruits and vegetables.
Help them get active and stay active. Exercise and regular activity provide almost too many good benefits to list, one of which is supporting heart health and lowering blood pressure. Not to mention, being active can be especially fun as a family activity.
Lead by example. One of the best ways to ensure that your child is practicing healthy habits is to make sure you’re also practicing those same habits. Chances are you’ll feel better and healthier, too.
All the care your child needs. As your child continues to grow, their health needs will continue to change, too. You need care that will grow with them. With experienced medical providers and an extensive array of services, Mason Pediatrics will provide your child with the customized care they need at every age from birth to 16 years of age.