High Blood Pressure: Silent Killer Of Kids

October 11, 2010 - Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Baltimore

BALTIMORE, MD (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- It has the same affect on children as it does adults, damage to arteries, the heart and kidneys. Jessica Corser looks like a typical teen, but on the inside she’s dealing with some serious adult health issues.

"I was in school and I had passed out in the hallway, and found myself up in the hospital with high blood pressure." Corse told Ivanhoe.

--Her dad James couldn't believe it.

"We were surprised, she's young why should she have high blood pressure?" Corser said.

A new study from pediatric nephrologists, the kidney experts at Johns Hopkins Children's Center, found that medical staff failed to check blood pressure in 20% of kids.

“We're saying that children who had blood pressure that were higher than the normal values, weren't recognized as having those values." Alicia Neu, M.D, a pediatric nephrologist at Johns Hopkins Children's Center said.

Measuring blood pressure in a child is far more complicated than in an adult. Normal blood pressure in adults, 120 over 80, is not normal in children.

"For a very small child a blood pressure of 110 over 60, which sounds normal, may be very abnormal." Dr. Neu explained.

Doctors and nurses refer to a reference chart to determine normal or abnormal blood pressure readings based on a child’s age, height, and sex. Understanding complicated reference tables could be why elevated blood pressures in children can be missed.

"We recognize that it's hard to know whether or not a blood pressure is normal just by looking at it, I takes a long time to figure out whether or not it's high or low." Dr. Neu said.

Doctors recommend that parents ask to have their child's blood pressure checked at every clinical visit. Medications and keeping active help Jessica manage her own blood pressure.

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

Controlling the silent killer at every age. The American academy of pediatrics' guidelines call for regular blood pressure checks in children 3 years and older. Elevated blood pressure on three consecutive medical visits qualifies as hypertension.


Tammy M. Brady, MD, MHS – Nephrologist
Division of Pediatric Nephrology
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, MD 21287
(410) 955-2467