High blood pressure in teens: Importance of early screening of high blood pressure
Most people believe that high blood pressure is a middle-aged and elderly person’s disease. The common thought is that only adults and elderly people can have high blood pressure. However, a closer look at the numbers reveals that teens are also at risk of having high blood pressure.
High blood pressure affects people of all ages. Contrary to claims that it is rare in teens, research findings show that it is not rare but often goes undetected. This unproven idea that it is rare is risky. This is because it hinders early diagnosis and timely management. This, therefore, means that treatment will be delayed. This not only makes it more difficult to treat but also exposes teens to getting other blood pressure-related complications such as stroke and heart diseases.
Why is early detection of high blood pressure in teens important?
A person’s blood pressure in their teenage years strongly predicts their blood pressure in their adult years. This, therefore, means that high blood pressure in teens is highly likely to persist into their adulthood. What’s worse is that such teens are increasingly exposed to other serious diseases of the heart in their adult years.
The good news, however, is that the latter can be prevented. Early detection and management of high blood pressure in teens are important. This is because it helps to prevent long-term damage of organs such as the heart, kidneys, brain, and eyes. Damage to these organs results from High blood pressure sustained for a long time. High blood pressure normally does not show symptoms. However, it causes blurry vision, headache, fluttering heartbeat and dizziness in some instances, although this is rare.
How is high blood pressure detected in teens?
High blood pressure in children is diagnosed similarly to how it is done in adults, using blood pressure cuffs. It’s important to note that these cuffs should be age-appropriate to get better results. Normative blood pressure charts are also used. They vary based on the age, sex, and height of the child. A blood pressure of more than 90% of the expected is considered to be elevated. If it rises above 95% of the expected, it is then considered to be high blood pressure.
The recommendation by doctors is that kids above three years should go for an annual screening for high blood pressure. For high-risk children such as those having diabetes, kidney disease, or obesity, the recommendation is that they should have a blood pressure check at every clinic visit.
It can be challenging to diagnose high blood pressure in teens. This is a result of various factors that could make the pressure fluctuate such as when a teen or child is nervous. Such cases can be handled best when the check is done at home
What are the causes of high blood pressure in teens?
High blood pressure in teens can either be primary or secondary. In addition, it could be caused by a wide range of either environmental or medical factors. Primary high blood pressure does not result from an underlying cause. Secondary high blood pressure on the other hand results from an underlying condition such as heart disease, kidney disease, obesity, lung problems, or endocrine disorders.
The factors that expose a teen to the risk of getting high blood pressure include an inactive lifestyle, obesity, family history of high blood pressure, and sleep apnea among others. Eliminating these factors will therefore reduce the risk of children getting high blood pressure. A healthy and active lifestyle is highly encouraged.