What is normal blood pressure for kids? When should your child have his or her first blood pressure check? Is it really that important to track blood pressure over time? These are the questions we’ve heard repeatedly from parents who are concerned about their child’s blood pressure (and rightly so!). This article will give you the answers you need to help you make the most informed decisions about blood pressure monitoring for your child.
Can children have high blood pressure?
A recent study of over 3,000 children has found that around 10% of kids ages 6 to 19 have high blood pressure—a number that is much higher than previous estimates. While this is distressing news, it’s important to understand some of the reasons why this could be happening, and how we can help children avoid the long-term health problems associated with hypertension. It is possible that because our society is getting fatter and more sedentary, children are not getting as much exercise as they used to. As a result, their heart and blood vessels are not getting the workout they need to stay healthy.
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, has become more prevalent in children in recent years. This condition is often symptomless and can affect children of any age. In fact, approximately 2% of children in the United States have hypertension. Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce blood pressure in children. (Drugs, it is important to note, are often a last resort due to the risks associated with some medications.)
Screening Kids for High Blood Pressure
It’s a tough diagnosis in kids considering that blood pressure can be caused by various reasons, age, sex, height, etc. The AAP advises that children have annual blood pressure screenings, starting at 3 yrs old at their yearly well-child checks.
If your child’s pressure is high, the doctor will recheck the pressure in one week to see if the pressure has normalized. Your child must have a complete battery of tests to evaluate the cause of high blood pressure and risk of organ injury if your kid has raised readings in 3 consecutive visits.
Children who have a blood pressure higher than 95% of children of the same gender, age and height can be diagnosed with high blood pressure. Since children’s blood pressures will vary greatly based on many factors as they’re growing up, there is no set range we can use as we do with adults.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers pediatricians simple screening guidelines to follow that identifies high blood pressure requiring additional assessment.
The normal blood pressure for kids is determined by their age – the older the child, the higher the normal blood pressure. For the average child aged 6-16, normal blood pressure should be between 90/50 and 120/80. The upper number is the systolic blood pressure, which measures the pressure in the arteries during contraction of the heart. The lower number is the diastolic blood pressure, which is the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats. The lower the blood pressure, the better.
Why Early Detection is Important
If high blood pressure isn’t detected early in children, it might go undiagnosed for many years, eventually leading to damage to the heart, kidneys, brain, and even cause other health conditions like heart disease their adult years.
Normal blood pressure for kids is the same across racial types and so American, Asian and African children will generally show the same range of normal blood pressure as long as they are of the same age and height as well as gender.
The best way to ensure normal blood pressure for kids is to ensure that the kids are made to eat healthy foods and they should also be made to perform sufficient amount of exercising. In case, your child is not doing these things then as a concerned parent you need to remedy the situation by overseeing their diet and exercise regimen.
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I really wanted to talk about this topic today because I wanted to share some lifestyle-based strategies to improve your overall mindset and mental health, which in turn improves your life. You must do the internal work to improve your overall health. You can do this by learning what motivates you and working each day on improving your mindset. Your thoughts control your feelings, which controls your behavior. You can cultivate certain behaviors and practices that will not only enrich your life, but that you can pass on to your family, friends, and community, so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
If you are familiar with my approach, 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, some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle modifications, such as stress reduction and mindfulness exercises, can help you feel better about yourself and your life. 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 For Motivation And Mindset
Although you don’t need a cushion to meditate, you may want to consider using one at some point. You could meditate in a chair, or simply sit on the floor if you want. You can also use pillows or cushions from your furnishings to try out. Cushion, chair, bench, floor – it’s all good. Eventually, though, if you’re not sitting upright on a chair, you’ll probably do well to buy a dedicated meditation cushion. The cushion will support your sitting posture and help you create an appealing mindfulness corner that will encourage you to practice every day. I recommend this meditation cushion and mat bundle.
If you struggle with stress, depression, or anxiety, keeping a journal can be a great idea. Even if you don’t have these conditions, journaling can enhance your life in many ways. Having difficulty processing your thoughts and emotions? Journaling can help clear that mental clutter and move towards a positive mindset. Research suggests that keeping a journal can have positive impacts on both mental and physical health. So, to start you on your journey, I recommend this self care journal.
Remember, living a healthy lifestyle including eating a whole foods plant-based diet, regular physical activity, meditation and mindfulness, as well as healthy and supportive relationships are the best ways to support mental health. 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.
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.
PPS. If you or someone you know is experiencing severe stress, anxiety, depression and/or other mental health issues, please contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889. This is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.
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