High Blood Pressure Hard to Recognize

Photo: Blood pressure Measuring device

In children, it is much more
difficult to detect high blood
pressure; © Hemera

The researchers say the consequences are that pediatricians and nurses may be missing the development of hypertension and its serious consequences, even when they do take blood pressure measurements.

The problem is that measuring a child’s blood pressure is far more complicated than it is in adults and requires interpreting each individual measure against a reference table for age, gender and height, says lead investigator Tammy Brady.

The researchers analyzed 2,500 records of visits to the pediatrician’s office. Medical staff did not check blood pressure in 500 of the cases. Elevated blood pressure scores were recorded in 726 cases of the 2,000 measurements taken, but the implications went unrecognized and unremarked upon in 87 percent of them, the study found.

The study found that medical staff was more likely to miss elevated blood pressures in children of normal weight and in those without a family history of cardiovascular disease. The same was true for those children whose blood pressure was at or below 120/80, a score considered ideal in adults, but one that may portend trouble in a child, depending on height, gender and age.

Because high blood pressure rarely causes symptoms, medical staff may overlook a child who has no traditional risk factors, such as obesity or family history, the researchers say. Half of the children in the study with elevated blood pressure were normal weight.

In the study, covering children ages three to 20, high blood pressure was discovered in six percent of healthy-weight children and in 20 percent of overweight and obese children. Even though medical staff was more attentive to elevated blood pressure among overweight and obese children, high blood pressure was still missed in four out five of them. Children with scores below 120/80 were nearly eight times more likely to have their high blood pressure missed than children with blood pressure above 120/80. Children without a family history of cardiovascular disease were twice as likely to have their high blood pressure unrecognized as those with family history.

MEDICA.de; Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine