Thursday, June 19, 2008

Annual Blood Pressure Screening for Children Recommended by AHA

© Marzanna Syncerz |

The American Heart Association recommends that children over age 3 receive annual blood pressure measurements, noting that even babies can have high blood pressure. A new analysis of blood pressure studies shows that high blood pressure in childhood is a predictor of high blood pressure in adults.

Annual check-ups to include blood pressure statistics should allow for early intervention, decreasing the risk of heart disease, stroke and heart attacks in adulthood. Lifestyle modifications, such as dietary changes and weight loss, rather than medication use, will help young people control t blood pressure, also limiting the risk of type 2 diabetes. . "Lifestyle modification is preferred rather than medication when appropriate to help young people to control their elevated blood pressure to a desirable level. A healthy diet and adequate exercise can also help reduce the risks of developing many other chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease," says Dr. Youfa Wang, from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore MD., one of the study’s authors.

The conclusions were obtained by accessing a PubMed database. Studies published in English, Chinese, or Japanese between January 1970 and July 2006 were reviewed that assessed BP tracking from childhood to adulthood, and included 50 studies. More than 80% of the subjects were white in the American studies, but no significant differences were seen between ethnic groups. Of the 50 studies, 58% came from the US 22% from, and 12% from Asia

The researchers recognize the persistence of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease in developing countries, as well as the increasing childhood obesity epidemic in supporting further research focused on blood pressure tracking throughout life.

You can help your child avoid high blood pressure throughout life, by encouraging proper nutrition, and exercise. Teach your children at an early age, the importance of good health habits. Incorporate exercise into their daily routine, the same as dental and physical hygiene. Discourage overeating by engaging your child in activities that are satisfying and fun.

Source: The study is published online in the June 16 issue of Circulation, performed by Drs Xiaoli Chen and Youfa Wang from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD.

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