Does your child have unrecognized high blood pressure? Nearly 20% of young adults do!

Stunning research published in the journal Epidemiology indicates that nearly one-fifth of Americans who are 24 to 32 years old have high blood pressure. And, the percent may be higher in younger kids. Is your child at risk and what can you do?

USA Today reports, “For the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, dubbed Add Health, funded by the National Institutes of Health, researchers from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill asked 14,000 men and women between the ages of 24 and 32 about their high blood pressure history and then took blood pressure readings of participants.”

The investigators “found that 19% of participants had high blood pressure.”

These “findings … are significantly higher than other recent research from another large, ongoing health study, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which found only 4% of adults 20 to 39 have high blood pressure.”

The CNN “The Chart” blog reported that lead study author Kathleen Mullan Harris said that “among those measured with high blood pressure, only 25% had been told previously that they had high blood pressure.”

The PBS News Hour “The Rundown” blog interviewed Dr. Steven Hirschfeld of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development about the findings.

This study confirms what others have found: that somewhere between 75 percent and 95 percent of children or young adults with high blood pressure DO NOT KNOW their pressure is high. If unrecognized and untreated, this high blood pressure can lead to:

  • Premature heart attack,
  • Premature congestive heart failure,
  • Premature stroke, or
  • Premature death.

So, what’s a parent to do? Here are my tips to be sure that your child’s blood pressure and weight are in a healthy range:

  • Get your child’s blood pressure, height, and weight.
  • Then calculate your child’s Blood Pressure Percentile. Do NOT just rely upon the absolute numbers as they can appear normal to both parents AND doctors and yet be abnormal. It is easiest to do this using a calculator like the one found here.
  • Then calculate your child’s Body Mass Index Percentile.It is easiest to do this using a calculator like the one found here.
  • If either of these percentiles are abnormal, then I recommend you and your family utilize my free 8-Week Family Fitness Plan. It’s available here, for free. The Spanish version can be found here.
  • After using the 8-Week Plan, recheck your child’s Blood Pressure Percentile and BMI Percentile. If either are abnormal, then it’s time for a visit with your child’s physician.
  • However, if the numbers are improved, but just not yet normal, I do have a Level Two 8-Week Family Fitness Plan you could try for free. You’ll find it here.

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