• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

High blood pressure affecting more kids

November 12, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
High blood pressure is something normally associated with adults, with 75 million men and women suffering from the disease. But it's affecting more and more kids, even children as young as three or four.Cameron Casalena, 11, and Jessica Corser, 17, are both living with high blood pressure.

Dr. Tammy Brady, a pediatrician at Johns Hopkins Children's Center, says too many kids are going undiagnosed.

"Children who, say, were not obese or were thin had a blood pressure like I said maybe 110 over 60, which is abnormal for the child but it's not an abnormal number that you would think off-hand. Those were the ones that were much more likely to be undiagnosed," said Brady.

That's because what's normal for adults is not normal for kids. Children need to be checked at every doctor's appointment.

"Not only do you have to get the child's height, you have to plot the height to get the height percentile, and then you have to actually get the blood pressure measurement, which can be really difficult in a fidgety 3- or 4-year-old," said Brady.

A study out of Johns Hopkins says only 20 percent of kids with hypertension are diagnosed with it. Corser found out the hard way.

"I was feeling' sick and I just passed out and that's how I found out," said Corser.

Corser's high blood pressure caused her kidneys to shut down. Another complication for kids with high blood pressure is sleep apnea. There is also an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure and eye disease.

Now both Casalena and Corser control their blood pressure with medications and a healthy lifestyle.

"I feel like I do have it under control," said Corser.

Most of the time, there are no symptoms for high blood pressure in kids. That's why the American Academy of Pediatrics calls for regular blood pressure checks in children 3 years and older. Elevated blood pressure reading on three consecutive doctor's visits qualifies for hypertension.


Load Comments