High blood pressure, which is called hypertension, is known to cause several long-term health complications, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, vision loss, and dementia. The American Heart Association says children who develop hypertension often carry it into adulthood, highlighting the need for early diagnosis, treatment and a healthy lifestyle in childhood.
Between two to five percent of children have hypertension, which may often have no symptoms early on. Experts say while some risk factors for childhood hypertension cannot be controlled such as genetics, environmental pollution and low birth weight, there are a number of controllable factors which may be the key to preventing hypertension. Those include obesity, physical activity and nutrition.
Experts recommend reducing sodium intake, as sodium is known to increase blood pressure levels. Reducing screen time and increasing physical activity can also be a helpful approach in reducing blood pressure.
The American Heart Association says more studies need to be done on using medication for treatment of childhood hypertension.