Unhealthy lifestyle choices linked to high blood pressure in children and adolescents

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Inactivity, high sugar and salt diets and being overweight account for 90% of high blood pressure cases in children and adolescents. A recent study of high blood pressure in children aged 6 to 16 gives families advice on how to improve their overall health.

The findings of the heart health expert consensus document were published in
the European Heart Journal, a publication of the European Society of
Cardiology (ESC).

“Parents are important agents of change in promoting children’s health
behaviors,” said first author Professor Giovanni de Simone of the University of
Naples Federico I1, Italy.

“Very often, high blood pressure and/or obesity coexist in the same family. But even when this is not the case, lifestyle changes should involve all family members.

Fresh produce, fruit and other high fiber foods are encouraged in the diet
guidelines for the treatment of high blood pressure in children. The consumption of salt is also recommended for
be kept to a minimum, and sugary drinks and saturated fats
should be avoided.

Children and teens should get no more than two hours of sedentary activity per day and should get at least one hour of vigorous physical activity per day, such as jogging, bicycling, or swimming.

Simone’s teacher advised parents to monitor how long their
children spend watching TV or using their smartphones and provide them
active alternatives.

Setting realistic goals for weight, diet and exercise should be done with a
focus on the areas that need the most improvement. young people and their
families can track progress toward their goals by keeping a long-term record of their weight, eating habits, and physical activity without becoming
obsessive, according to Simone’s teacher.

It is advisable to implement a “healthy reward system”. “Ideal
incentives are those that increase social support and reinforce the value of
targeted behaviors, such as a family bike ride or a walk with friends,” said
Simone’s teacher.

According to the report, childhood obesity and hypertension are “insidious
siblings” that turn into serious health risks over time. According to studies,
childhood hypertension is increasing with obesity, especially abdominal
obesity, contributing to some of the increases. Less than 2% of children with
they are thought to have hypertension, compared to 5% of overweight people
children and 15% of obese children.

“The increase in childhood hypertension is of great concern because it is associated with the persistence of hypertension and other cardiovascular problems into adulthood,” said Professor de Simone.

It is essential to identify high blood pressure early so that it can be
controlled by lifestyle changes and, if necessary, medication. A doctor or
the nurse can identify children with high blood pressure with only one blood
pressure reading, but a second visit is advised for confirmation.

Dr de Simone said: “Regardless of symptoms, screening should be done at least once a year in primary care. This is due to the fact that hypertension in children, just like in adults, is usually asymptomatic.

A medical history and physical exam are needed to identify potential causes and identify behaviors that can be changed when blood pressure
measurements indicate hypertension.

Birth weight, gestational age, family history of hypertension and cardiovascular disease, lifestyle factors such as smoking, salt intake, alcohol consumption, physical activity and leisure activities, and Potential symptoms like headaches, nosebleeds, dizziness, visual disturbances, poor school performance, attention problems, shortness of breath, palpitations and fainting are all included in the information.

Early intervention for childhood hypertension should focus on behavior
modification and education. Low dose medication should be started if
blood pressure goals are not met. Small doses of two drugs can be
necessary if a drug is ineffective.

Authors urge public health organizations to offer prevention and treatment services
hypertension in children and adolescents a top priority. For example, campaigns for
raise awareness of the dangers of high blood pressure in young people and
benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise, healthy eating
low in salt and sugar and stop smoking.

Other suggested actions include setting aside time for children to watch television and use social media without encouraging unhealthy eating habits or other potentially dangerous lifestyle choices.

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