Pediatric Hypertension Center
For decades, kidney problems were the main source of high blood pressure (hypertension) in children. However, the obesity epidemic has changed the landscape. Like many adults, an increasing number of children are being diagnosed with primary hypertension. Also known as essential hypertension, this condition has no definable cause, but may be linked to factors such as genetics, poor diet, inactivity and obesity.
At University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, our hypertension services combine expertise, experience and advanced knowledge to meet the complex needs of today’s children. Our program is focused on treating high blood pressure with both lifestyle modifications and medication, when needed. Our goal is to investigate and uncover the causes of elevated blood pressure and develop individualized care plans for each child’s unique situation.
At our hypertension-focused clinics, families have access to a wealth of expert pediatric hypertension resources. Utilizing our comprehensive, coordinated method of care, young patients can get much of their testing performed during their first visit.
Treating High Blood Pressure in Children
Once testing results are evaluated, the team devises the best approach for treatment. Depending on the child, the team may recommend:
- Consulting the nephrology team to manage hypertension caused by obesity, kidney problems and other medical conditions
- Working with clinical dietitians to reduce weight and sodium intake, both of which can aggravate hypertension
- Consulting with the endocrinology and metabolism team as needed
- At-home monitoring of hypertension with a blood pressure cuff; families should consult with their child’s doctor to ensure they are using the correct cuff to monitor their child’s blood pressure
One of the methods used to control high blood pressure in children is to encourage the adoption of healthy lifestyle choices, including those related to diet and exercise. One of the recommendations a pediatric dietitian may make is to implement the DASH diet plan. The DASH plan, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, was developed by the National Institutes of Health. It is rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and high protein foods such as nuts, beans, poultry and fish. It limits the amounts of red meat, sugar, salt and saturated fat in your child’s diet, all of which have been linked to high blood pressure.
A pediatric dietitian will work with you and your child to develop a healthy meal plan that will fit with your family’s lifestyle.
High Blood Pressure Research Specific to Children
Children respond to drug therapy differently than adults. Our hypertension program is actively involved in intensive research and clinical trials focused on pediatric hypertension, medication and the relationship between blood pressure and weight. These studies may result in important advances in treatment and management for today’s children and future generations.