Normal Blood Pressure for Adolescents

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, Normal Blood Pressure for Adolescents, Dr. Nicolle

Hello. This is Hypertension Prevention Tuesdays! Today, we’ll talk about normal blood pressure for adolescents. As children grow parents tend not to take them for physicals every year or two unless they require sports physicals for school activities. This may be a mistake since, although teens often appear healthy, this is a time in their lives when their bodies are able to withstand consistent assaults from chemicals, environmental stimuli, over eating and under exercise. Receiving a physical exam at least every other year keeps those problems in check as well as gives the physician a chance to evaluate the need for any other education or testing for any further medical problems.

 

High Blood Pressure

One of those problems that are silent is high blood pressure. You will want your teen checked for normal blood pressure for adolescents. Blood pressure is a numerical measurement of the pressure needed to push blood through the arterial system. There are two numbers. The top number is the systolic pressure. This number represents the mg of mercury needed to push the blood through constricted or ‘tense’ arteries. The systolic number is generated when the heart is at the peak of pumping. The diastolic reading is the bottom number and it represents the pressure that’s left in your arterial system when your heart is between pumps. When your doctor is evaluating your blood pressure the most important number is the bottom number because that pressure is consistently elevated while the top number is able to fluctuate more and drops to the bottom number between beats.

 

Normal Blood Pressure

Normal blood pressure for adolescents is affected throughout the day by several factors that include: physical activity, emotional moods, anger, stress, age/height/weight/gender and the time of the day. Adolescents are also affected by white coat syndrome. This is a condition where the blood pressure of the patient is artificially elevated by the stress they experience being around the doctor.

, Normal Blood Pressure for Adolescents, Dr. Nicolle

Normal blood pressure for adolescents is determined by comparison against other adolescents and separated by gender. Boys tend to have blood pressure higher than girls, tall people have pressure higher than short people.

 

To help doctors evaluate what blood pressure is too high in teens the National High Blood Pressure Education Program (NHBEP) put together tables that give values depending upon how old and how tall your teen is. If your teens blood pressure is higher than 90 to 95% of others in their category (age and height) then they may consider them to have high blood pressure.

 

High Blood Pressure Is A Silent Killer

Having normal blood pressure for adolescents is important because hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a silent killer. Oftentimes patients don’t know that they have high blood pressure. The increased pressure in the arterial system will do permanent damage to the kidneys and heart leading to kidney failure, heart disease, stroke and coronary artery disease. The heart has to pump harder to circulate the blood leading to heart failure. Although heart attacks and strokes are very rare in children studies of children with high blood pressure show that by the time they are 20 they have permanent harmful effects of the heart and blood vessels even if the hypertension is mild.

 

Causes of High Blood Pressure in Adolescents

The causes of higher than normal blood pressure in adolescents are much the same as in adults – high blood cholesterol levels, poor diet, lack of exercise, obesity, smoking and alcohol use. Sometimes hypertension in adolescents is secondary to another disease or illness, use of medication or severe pain with cancer or burns. When the secondary illness is treated then the hypertension often disappears. The higher than normal blood pressure in adolescents that is primary is more cause for concern.

 

In the adolescent years your physician will be very interested in helping your teen to change the habits that have gotten him/her the hypertension rather than throwing a medication at him/her. So the doctor will counsel you and your teen about weight loss, quit smoking, improve his nutrition and get some exercise. If the blood pressure is significantly high then they may also evaluate your teen for use of a mild anti-hypertensive medication to begin control while more natural methods are instituted.

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, Normal Blood Pressure for Adolescents, Dr. Nicolle

 

I’m excited to talk about this topic today because not only do I truly believe that you have the power to reverse heart disease and lower high blood pressure to improve your health, but the science also agrees! You can adopt healthy lifestyle practices that improve your health and enrich your life, which can in turn improve the lives of those close to you. You have the power to break the cycle of these chronic diseases so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.

 

As you may already know, I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you improve blood pressure and reverse heart disease. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.

 

Tools to Improve Heart Health

Blood Pressure Monitoring

It’s very important to monitor your blood pressure. I often recommend an automatic upper arm blood pressure cuff, but a wrist blood pressure monitor is also acceptable.

, Normal Blood Pressure for Adolescents, Dr. Nicolle

Weight Monitoring

Since weight management is very important in blood pressure control, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor.

 

, Normal Blood Pressure for Adolescents, Dr. NicolleRemember, healthy lifestyle behaviors–like eating a whole-foods plant-based diet that is low in sodium, being physically active, and stress management are the best ways to prevent and control high blood pressure. Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use.

 

Let me know what you think in the comment section below.

 

Stay healthy,

 

Dr. Nicolle

 

PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.

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Normal Blood Pressure for AdolescentsNormal Blood Pressure for Adolescents

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