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High Blood Pressure in Children

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Treating High Blood Pressure in Children

Researchers are still trying to determine the most effective way to treat high blood pressure in children. In general, treating high blood pressure in kids is not that different from treating it in adults. Work closely with your child's doctor to find which treatment plan will work best for your child. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Follow the DASH eating plan. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet plan includes eating less fat and saturated fat as well as eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and whole-grain foods. Limiting salt intake can also help lower a child's blood pressure. A dietitian can help you and your child find ways to meet these goals without giving up favorite foods or great flavor.
  • Watch your child's weight. Being overweight increases the risk of developing high blood pressure. Following the DASH eating plan and getting regular exercise can help your child lose weight. Ask your child's doctor to help set goals for losing weight. Your child's doctor can also refer you to other health care professionals for assistance in setting up a weight-loss plan.
  • Avoid tobacco smoke. Tobacco smoke can make blood pressure rise; it can also directly damage your child's heart and blood vessels. Protect your child from tobacco smoke -- even secondhand smoke.
  • Taking medications. If your child's high blood pressure is severe or doesn't respond to lifestyle changes, your doctor may prescribe medication. It may take a while to find a combination of drugs that works best to control high blood pressure with the least side effects. Drugs used to treat high blood pressure include:
    1. Diuretics to reduce the amount of fluid in the blood by helping the body rid itself of extra sodium.
    2. ACE inhibitors, alpha-blockers, and calcium channel blockers help keep the blood vessels from tightening up.
    3. Beta-blockers prevent the body from making the hormone adrenaline. Adrenaline is a stress hormone. It makes the heart beat harder and faster. It also makes blood vessels tighten. All of this makes blood pressure higher.

How to Help Your Child With High Blood Pressure

Help your child control high blood pressure by following the doctor's plan carefully. In addition, you can take these steps.

  • Limit the amount of time your child spends playing video games and watching TV.
  • Make changes to diet and exercise a family affair. Everyone in the family will benefit from these healthy changes.
  • Make sure your child has his or her blood pressure checked as often as recommended by your child's doctor.

By working with your health specialist to develop a comprehensive health plan, you can help your child control high blood pressure -- and enjoy many healthy years ahead.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on September 20, 2014
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