High blood pressure is treated similarly in children and adults, typically starting with lifestyle changes.
Dec. 18, 2012
- Control your child's weight. If your child is overweight, losing the excess pounds or maintaining the same weight as he or she gets taller can lower blood pressure.
- Give your child a healthy diet. Encourage your child to eat a healthy breakfast that includes fiber and to avoid sugary cereals and beverages or products that have corn syrup solids listed as the first ingredient. Provide plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in place of higher fat snacks like candy or chips. Trade white bread, rice and pasta for whole-wheat varieties. Working with a dietitian can be helpful.
Decrease salt in your child's diet. Cutting the amount of salt (sodium) in your child's diet will help lower his or her blood pressure. Children ages 4 to 8 shouldn't have more than 1,200 milligrams (mg) a day, and older children shouldn't have more than 1,500 mg a day.
Pay attention to how much salt you use in your cooking, and take the saltshaker off the table. Avoid giving your child salty snacks, such as chips or pretzels. Also, pay attention to how much sodium is in canned and processed foods your child eats, such as soups and frozen dinners. Limit the amount of fast food your child eats. Fast-food restaurants generally have high salt menus as well as high-calorie foods.
- Encourage physical activity. Most children need at least 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Limit your child's time in front of the television or computer — no television before age 2, and no more than two hours of "screen time" a day after age 2.
- Get the whole family involved. It may be hard for your child to make healthy lifestyle changes if you or your child's siblings don't eat a healthy diet or exercise. So, set a good example. Your whole family will benefit from eating a healthier diet. You can also join in the fun of riding your bikes together, playing catch or walking to the park as a family.
- Shop mindfully. Most of the time, your child can eat only the foods that you've purchased and made available.
- Integrated guidelines for cardiovascular health and risk reduction in children and adolescents. Bethesda, Md.: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/cvd_ped/index.htm. Accessed Nov. 14, 2012.
- Lurbe E, et al. Management of high blood pressure in children and adolescents: Recommendations of the European Society of Hypertension. Journal of Hypertension. 2009;27:17.
- Mattoo TK. Evaluation of hypertension in children and adolescents. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Nov. 9, 2012.
- Mattoo TK. Epidemiology, risk factors, and etiology of hypertension in children and adolescents. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Nov. 9, 2012.
- Mattoo TK. Treatment of hypertension in children and adolescents. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Nov. 9, 2012.
- High blood pressure in children. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/UnderstandYourRiskforHighBloodPressure/High-Blood-Pressure-in-Children_UCM_301868_Article.jsp. Accessed Nov. 9, 2012.
- Blood pressure tables for children and adolescents. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/hypertension/child_tbl.htm. Accessed Nov. 9, 2012.
- AskMayoExpert. Hypertension (pediatric). Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2012.
- Stergiou GS, et al. Home blood pressure monitoring in children and adolescents: A systematic review. Journal of Hypertension. 2009;27:1941.
- Healthy weight: Tips for parents. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/children/index.html. Accessed Nov. 14, 2012.