Monitoring Blood Pressure in Children and Other Heart-Healthy Tips

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Blood Pressure in Children


In the deep south, it’s no secret that we have a high incidence of heart disease. But what may be surprising is the increase in heart attacks, bypasses and heart failure in people as young as 22 or 23.

These heart issues in young adults often could have been prevented with early detection. Monitoring blood pressure is one of the best ways to predict heart disease and other problems.

Monitoring Children’s Blood Pressure

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released new information on measuring and managing blood pressure in children. The biggest finding from the study is the need to accurately gauge blood pressure in children, in a way which does not follow the same guidelines used for adults. The new guidelines include a short, easy-to-understand chart of appropriate blood pressure ranges based on the child’s age and gender.

With this simplified model for measuring blood pressure in children, we hope to detect treatable underlying issues, like narrowing of the aorta or kidney problems, and prevent future issues, such as heart attack or stroke.

What Parents Can Do to Ensure Children’s Heart Health

As a parent, you can look at the height, weight and blood pressure charts in your pediatrician’s office to see how your child is measuring up. You can also ask your pediatrician to check your child’s blood sugar and cholesterol levels, since these can be indicators of potential cardiovascular problems.

If it is recommended by a pediatrician, enroll your child in a weight loss program so that high blood sugar, body mass index (BMI) or cholesterol levels can be addressed early on.

Some Bonus Heart Healthy Tips

Monitoring and managing blood pressure is not just for kids! Here are some other tips for maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle:

  • Stay away from meat-based diets and instead opt for (unfried) fish and lean cuts of beef.
  • Choose carbs with more fiber than sugar, such as beans, legumes, broccoli and fruit.
  • Minimize salt intake as well as foods with high saturated fat levels or high fructose corn syrup.
  • Know your BMI. A BMI of 20-25 is considered healthy, while over 25 is overweight and and over 30 is obese. People with a BMI of above 25 are at a higher risk of developing heart disease.
  • Increase physical activity as able, and consult your physician if you have questions about your specific nutrition and exercise plans to set appropriate goals.

About Dr. Bryan Hathorn

Bryan Hathorn, MD, FACC, is Board Certified in interventional cardiology, cardiovascular disease and nuclear cardiology. Dr. Hathorn visits patients at the Louisiana Cardiology Associate clinics in Baton Rouge and Gonzales.

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