The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recently updated its guidelines to identify and treat high blood pressure more accurately than before. Now, it will be easier for doctors to determine hypertension, which was many times misdiagnosed on children.

The new guidelines were published in the medical journal Pediatrics and hadn’t been updated since 2004. From that time and until now, doctors usually thought that only overweight children could suffer from high blood pressure diseases, and up to 75 percent of the time they misdiagnosed their patients. With this new balance, more children are being diagnosed accurately, giving them the opportunity to receive a right treatment earlier.

Image credit: DIGITEXMedical
Image credit: DIGITEXMedical

High blood pressure is a “silent” condition, meaning it does not show visible symptoms. However, it leads to long-term consequences, including cardiovascular diseases.  With this new guidelines, children are able to know what precautions they should take throughout their lives.

20 people of the American Academy formed a committee to update de AAP guidelines, base on new evidence and new recommendations. The committee reviewed nearly 15,000 articles focused on diagnosis, evaluation and early supervision of abnormally high blood pressure in children and teenagers.

3.5 percent of all US children and teens have hypertension  

According to the APP, 3.5 percent of children and adolescents in all the country have hypertension or another high blood pressure condition. According to Dr. Joseph T. Flynn, lead author of the guidelines and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington, this number means an increase compared with the past, where it was estimated just a 1 or 2 percent of all the young population. This new rate placed hypertension among the top five chronic diseases for adolescents and children. The prevalence of high blood pressure, or pediatric hypertension in children, has increased in the United States since 1988.

“In infants and very young children, we worry about an underlying cause like kidney disease,” said Dr. Flynn.

However, it’s more likely for older children and teenagers to suffer from primary hypertension, also known as essential hypertension.

Dr. Flynn said obesity does contribute to higher blood pressure, but the physiological mechanisms that cause high blood pressure are too complicated to think just obese kids suffer from hypertension. Some “normal-weight” kids suffer from the condition, and some overweight children don’t.

“If, for example, a child is known to have kidney disease or heart disease, then they would be at higher risk for hypertension. Another group would be kids whose parents have hypertension,” Flynn said.

Doctors added to the guidelines new tables with the data from a comparison between normal-weight and overweight children and their blood pressure levels. Now, more children will be diagnosed and receive proper treatment.

“Untreated, we believe that high blood pressure in a child will lead to high blood pressure when that child becomes an adult, so that would potentially lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease later in life,” Flynn said. “The blood pressure levels that are concerning in adults would also be concerning in an older teenager,” meaning those age 13 and older. “It simplifies things for doctors.”

Source: APP News