High Blood Pressure in Children


Johns Hopkins conducted a study and found that children who have elevated blood pressure levels often have elevated blood pressure levels as adults.

Ah, here we go — a study regarding the slow adoption of electronic medical records here in the United States. It seems that the physicians who use them are happy with the results, but it all comes with a fairly substantial price tag. Perhaps unless we see some real funding/incentives from the government or insurers come into play, this will continue to be a major roadblock.

Also, let me digress for a moment and say that I really, really wish the media would quit ruminating on whether or not the Gloucester students had pact. I heard someone comment in public last weekend that these girls’ problem was morality, and I thought my head would spin off of my shoulders… the problem - as it was put - is that these girls, whether acting through a pact or not, don’t appreciate the responsibility that goes with carrying on a sexual relationship, a pregnancy, giving birth, and parenting. What an incredibly hard lesson to learn at such a young age… and the comment on morality is sad, considering what we’ve learned about abstinence-only programs. It’s certainly a harder sell with all the world’s eyes on Jamie Lynn.

But the news I really wanted to talk about today is the Johns Hopkins study published this month in Circulation regarding blood pressure. It is a meta-analysis of 50 cohort studies tracking the systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels of children, over a period as long as 40 years, into adulthood. And what they found is that children who have elevated blood pressure levels often have elevated blood pressure levels as adults.

This has obvious clinical implications for pediatricians, as it suggests that monitoring and controlling blood pressure in children could prevent hypertension — and all the nasty conditions that can come with it – later on in life. Given the rise in obesity, I would have expected that the incidence of hypertension would rise as well, but I didn’t realize just how much until I visited the CDC website. Data from the CDC 2007 health trends report show that more than 35% of American men and women, aged 45-54 years, had hypertension for the years 2001-2004. As expected, groups disproportionately affected tend to be the groups with poor access to preventive healthcare, making it all the more important to find a way to insure every kid.

The public was recently reminded of the insidious nature of heart disease with the death of Tim Russert, who was reported to be taking medication for high cholesterol and blood pressure, and putting time in on an exercise bike. But medication is no substitute for living a healthy lifestyle, and perhaps cultivating good habits early in children could put a crimp in many health issues seen in adults today. Is the Hopkins study another opportunity to impress on parents the importance of eating a balanced diet, living a balanced life?

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