Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Lifestyle changes, including a heart-healthy diet and exercise, are often the first approach your child's doctor will recommend to lower your child's blood pressure.

If your child is diagnosed with slightly or moderately high blood pressure (prehypertension or stage 1 hypertension), your child's doctor will likely suggest trying lifestyle changes, such as a heart-healthy diet and more exercise, before prescribing medications. If your child's blood pressure doesn't decrease after trying lifestyle changes, your child's doctor may recommend blood pressure medication. If your child is diagnosed with severely high blood pressure (stage 2 hypertension), your child's doctor will likely recommend blood pressure medications. These medications may include:

  • Diuretics. These medications, also known as water pills, act on your child's kidneys to help your child eliminate sodium and water, reducing blood pressure.
  • Beta blockers. These medications reduce the workload on your child's heart, causing it to beat slower and with less force.
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. These medications help relax your child's blood vessels by blocking the formation of a natural chemical that narrows blood vessels. This makes it easier for your child's blood to flow, reducing blood pressure.
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers. These medications help relax blood vessels by blocking a natural chemical that narrows your child's blood vessels.
  • Calcium channel blockers. These medications help relax the muscles of your child's blood vessels and may slow his or her heart rate.

Your child may need blood pressure medications temporarily or indefinitely. If your child's high blood pressure is caused by obesity, losing weight may eliminate the need for medication. In other cases, treating other medical conditions your child has might control his or her blood pressure.

Although little is known about the long-term effects of blood pressure medication on a child's growth and development, many of these medications are generally considered safe to take during childhood. Depending on the specific drug, side effects are possible, including dry mouth, dizziness and fatigue.

Dec. 18, 2012