Medical Minute: Hypertension in kids on the rise

High blood pressure among children is on the rise.  Doctors say it's due mostly to a more sedentary lifestyle and obesity in kids.  Hypertension that develops as an adolescent or teen puts patients at a higher risk for heart attack or stroke as adults.  Kids with a strong family history, diabetes or bad diet are at higher risk to develop hypertension.

SLUCare Pediatric Nephrologist at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital Dr. Craig Belsha says, "In the last 20 years or so we're seeing increasingly high blood pressure that say have started in someones 20's or 30's now showing up in their teen years."

He sends some of his young hypertension patients home with blood pressure monitor that can give a truer reading than at the doctor's office. "It is set to automatically every 15 minutes in the day time and every 30 minutes at night its over the course of one day and one night we get about 70 blood pressure readings."

Belsha says high blood pressure may be prevented by lowering salt intake and increasing exercise.  If that doesn't work prescription medicine is available for children. "A number of blood pressure medications have now been tested in adults that are used in adults have now  been tested in kids and shown to be safe and effective."

SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital has a comprehensive hypertension program for children.  To learn more click here.

The SSM Health Medical Minute airs every Thursday at 7pm on KPLR News 11 and at 9pm on KTVI FOX 2.