Kids’ blood pressure

Should it be checked?

OK … today’s medical info hits too close to home. One of my daughters is a soon-to-be, full-fledged physician assistant. She and her classmates know a lot about medical issues and are pros when it comes to taking blood pressure.

It seems, however, that my daughter’s blood pressure is high — not just once in a while, but almost always. She is now seeing our family physician and considering her options as she addresses a potentially serious problem.

Here’s the rub: A new report on when to routinely screen children for high blood pressure sends a mixed message. A review by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force found “it’s unclear whether treating high blood pressure in children and adolescents controls hypertension long-term or leads to better heart health in adulthood.”

So for now, based on this review of previous studies, the task force will not advocate “for or against” routine blood pressure screenings in children. But this decision is already drawing fire from pediatricians. One physician from Miami Children’s Hospital says, “It is extremely important to screen children and adolescents for hypertension. That’s the official position of the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

My daughter is now 25 years old and is in generally excellent health. But she knows that high blood pressure is not something to ignore. She’s been able to bring her blood pressure down by exercising and eating right. … But what about our younger children?


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