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Children's Health

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High Blood Pressure a Rising Risk for Kids, Teens

Could Lead to Greater Health Risks When Young and as an Adult

Signs of Health Problems to Come continued...

Even in kids, high blood pressure can cause damage, Samuels writes, including changes in the heart. And high blood pressure often follows children into their adult years, putting them at risk of heart disease and stroke.

For Suzanne Steinbaum, DO, the study emphasizes the perils of America's weight issues. "I actually got into an argument with a cabdriver this morning" about the proposed plan to limit sodas in New York City, says Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

"This could be a huge wake-up call. When I read an article like this, I feel like standing on the buildings in New York City and screaming. Children are getting sicker and sicker as they're getting more obese. There's going to be a huge increase in heart disease and health care costs because of this," she tells WebMD.

"Children who have hypertension usually become adults with hypertension. And children who are obese usually become obese adults, with all the chronic conditions associated with that."

What's a Parent to Do?

Parents can help keep their children from developing blood-pressure-related problems by working with their doctor. It's especially important for doctors to check obese children for high blood pressure during their checkups, Steinbaum says.

If a child does have high blood pressure, this is a good time for the entire family to start making healthy lifestyle changes, she says, given that children of parents who are obese are much more likely to become obese themselves.

Diet and exercise changes can help address high blood pressure in children, Tran says. Other treatments for high blood pressure, if needed, can help keep these kids from going on to develop complications from it, she says.

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