When Is Blood Pressure A Pressure To Children?
Blood pressure (BP)also known as hypertension is a major public health problem due to its high prevalence all around the globe. Surprisingly, children are also at risk of having BP. According to Esther Ngesa, a cardiologist at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, lifestyle is the major cause of blood pressure in both children. Although, can differ, depending on a child’s age.
“BP in kids can differ, depending on a child’s age. The younger the child, the more likely the high blood pressure is linked to an illness”, says Esther Ngesa.
Babies with kidney, lungs, and heart problems are at a high risk of suffering from BP. “Narrowing of the major blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart or immature lungs in premature babies, may cause BP in the newborn”, adds Esther.
Mama Tina, a mother of three narrates how she discovered her last daughter’s blood pressure at the age of three (now 4years).
“My last born daughter Tina was born prematurely, two months before the estimated date of delivery. She was taken to the nursery, but after two days I discovered that she had difficulty breathing. The nurse in charge then examined her and I was told that she had problems with the lungs, which she called bronchopulmonary dysplasia”, narrates Mama Tina.
“It was so devastating to my family because now (considering that I had other younger children at home, who needed me), I had to spend more time in the hospital after delivery”, adds Mama Tina”
“Even after I was discharged, I was advised to be taking her for frequent checkups including blood tests, biopsy among other tests,” continues Mama Tina.
“Three years later, my Tina was diagnosed with high blood pressure, and according to the doctor, it was as a result of the early problem of the lungs. As at now, I am trying as much as possible to help in control, by adhering to medication”, adds Mama Tina.
According to Esther Ngesa, sometimes it not easy to diagnose blood pressure in children.
“Diagnosing hypertension in kids can be difficult because it doesn’t always cause noticeable symptoms. In kids, high blood pressure is defined as blood pressure greater than the 95th percentile for their age, height, and gender”, explains Esther.
According to statistics by WHO, childhood obesity is a major cause of BP when it comes to lifestyle. Based on the lifestyle, Esther notes that parents have become very busy and sometimes lazy to make decent food for their children. They prefer junk.
“Besides, most parents do not encourage their children in doing physical exercise; they act too overprotective with excuses like they will get hurt. So, they prefer buying computer games. This leads to overweight”, adds Esther.
“High blood pressure can damage the heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes if not well managed. But when it is discovered in early stages, monitored, and treated, kids, can lead an active, normal life” encourages Esther.
According to Esther, there are risk factors related to blood pressure in children.
“Major risk factor includes stroke and coronary heart disease. Other than coronary heart disease and stroke, its complications include heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, renal impairment, retinal hemorrhage, and visual impairment”.
Here’s what to consider in order to avoid BP in kids:
- Weight loss: If your child is overweight, enroll him/her to weight loss programs, and aerobic exercise every day. This will help in weight moderation.
- Daily exercise: Being fit is a key part of blood pressure control.
- Dietary changes: Seek guidance from nutritionists on the best diet programs available. Encourage good eating habits to children includes more vegetables (especially leafy green vegetables), fruits, low-fat dairy products, and fiber-rich foods. Discourage adding salt to foods. Watch out for foods with lots of hidden salt (like bread, sandwiches, pizza, and many restaurants and fast-food options).