While high blood is normally considered as an “adult problem”, but it can also occur in teenagers. The incidence of high blood pressure among teens is increasing. The most probable reasons for this increase are the present days’ lifestyle aspects that lead to obesity, sedentary life, unhealthy diet, etc. Teenagers in these days weigh more and exercise less than the teens of earlier generations.
Another factor that contributes partly to this increased incidence of high blood pressure in teens is due to the more aggressive screening for blood pressure these days.
High blood pressure in teenagers should not be taken lightly, as it increases the target-organ damage and other problems in this age group. Even a small raise in blood pressure (pre-hypertension) can compound the future risk of having full-fledged hypertension.
In this article you will find what causes high blood pressure in teens, what is considered high blood pressure and normal blood pressure range in teens and its treatments.
Causes Of High Blood Pressure In Teens
It is important to understand what causes high blood pressure in teenagers. It was earlier thought that most cases of high blood pressure in teens occur due to some underlying problems with the heart and kidneys. Subsequent studies have shown that this is not true, and it is now believed that high blood pressure arise in teen-age group approximately in the same proportions as in adults.
Now it has been found that most cases of high blood pressure can be graded as primary hypertension. Like in case of adults, the underlying causes of primary hypertension cannot be fully identified. Whereas some teenagers seem to inherit the propensity to acquire high blood from their parents, the others might develop it due to poor lifestyle conditions that result in obesity and getting out of shape, the so called “decreased cardiovascular fitness” in medical terms.
It should also be understood that the teens are not simply a smaller version of adults. In case of adolescence the hormonal changes also play some dynamics that increase high blood pressure risk. For instance, eating junk food and not doing adequate exercise may not necessarily increase body weight, but still they can cause high blood pressure in teenagers. Further the surges in the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen might also result in the occurrence of high blood pressure amongst the teenagers.
Although the exact roles these hormones perform are complex and not precisely comprehended, it has been found that the teenagers in whom puberty is initiated at a younger age are prone to an increased overall risk of developing high blood pressure.
Diagnosing Teenage High Blood Pressure – What Is Considered High Blood Pressure In Teenage
Diagnosing high blood pressure in teenagers is more complex than diagnosing high blood pressure in adults. Whereas in case of adults, there are well-defined guidelines for hypertension / high blood pressure, but this is not so in the case of teenagers. This is due to the reason that teenagers are not subject to the same risks (like heart attack) as adults. Another reason is the normal blood pressure varies with the age and gender.
Diagnosing high blood pressure in teenagers entails taking multiple blood pressure readings over 2 to 4 weeks periods. A onetime high blood pressure reading is not diagnosed as hypertension unless it’s a very high reading or is accompanied by other symptoms.
Instead of using absolute guidelines, the diagnosis in teenagers is made by relying on statistics that are stated in percentiles. The official diagnosis guidelines issued by the American Heart Association are very complicated to understand by a common man, which is why high blood pressure in case of teens should only be diagnosed by a doctor.
Normal Blood Pressure Range In Teenagers
The normal range of blood pressure for teenagers is more or less the same as that for adults, but only a little lower. A blood pressure of 120/80 in case of a healthy adult is considered as normal blood pressure. In case of teenagers also this is considered as normal blood pressure with a typical range of 100/60 to 145/95. The younger the child is, the lower the pressure should be. A teenager should consult a Doctor, if his/her blood pressure usually remains above 120/80.
Prevention And Treatment Of High Blood Pressure In Teens
A teenager having high blood pressure is likely to suffer more blood vessel and cardiovascular problems later in life. Due to this reason, prevention and control of high blood pressure assume special importance during adolescent years. Treatment methods for teenagers having high blood pressure are same as those for adults.
Embracing a healthier lifestyle is suggested for all irrespective of their existing blood pressure. It cuts down the risk of not only essential hypertension, but also some of the causes of secondary hypertension, such as renal artery stenosis.
The most crucial life style changes recommended are:
(i) Eat a healthy diet (Adopt DASH-type dietary plan).
(ii) Maintain a healthy body weight. If overweight then control your weight.
(iii) Do aerobic exercises and limit sedentary activity. Exercise regularly (minimum 20 minutes on 3 or more days in a week)
(iv) Curtail dietary salt intake.
(v) Don’t smoke.
(vi) Restrict alcohol and drugs consumption. They are considered as prime reasons for hypertension amongst teens.
(vii) Have adequate sleep.
Note: As in case of adults, more serious forms of high blood pressure involve more aggressive treatment. In case of teens, lifestyle modifications tend to be the first treatment option. Nevertheless, medication is still used when needed. The medicines recommended to treat hypertension in teens are the same as those used in case of adults. However, the prescribed dose is normally same as that what would be considered an “introductory” or “trial” dose in adults. As a parent you need to be careful in case your teen’s blood pressure is abnormally high at a doctor’s visit. Make it sure to follow up and ask your doctor what to do next. This assumes more importance, if there is a history of high blood pressure in your family.
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