If your child is diagnosed with slightly or moderately high blood pressure (elevated blood pressure 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.
- Beta blockers. These medications reduce the workload on your child's heart, causing it to beat slower and with less force. These aren't generally recommended as an initial treatment for a child.
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.
Sept. 09, 2017
- Black HR, et al. Hypertension in children and adolescents. Hypertension: A Companion to Braunwald's Heart Disease. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2007.
- Marcdante KJ, et al. Hypertension. In: Nelson Essentials of Pediatrics. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015. http://www.clinical key.com. Accessed Oct. 3, 2015.
- Mattoo TK. Evaluation of hypertension in children and adolescents. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 4, 2015.
- High blood pressure in children. American Family Physician. 2012;85:704.
- Essouma M, et al. Hypertension prevalence, incidence and risk factors among children and adolescents in Africa: A systematic review and meta-analysis protocol. British Medical Journal Open. 2015;5:e008472.
- 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 Oct. 4, 2015.
- The fourth report on the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of high blood pressure in children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2004;114(suppl):555.
- Tips for parents: Ideas to help children maintain a healthy weight. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/children/index.html. Accessed Oct. 4, 2015.
- Hoecker JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 7, 2015.
- Flynn JT, et al. Clinical Practice Guideline for Screening and Management of High Blood Pressure in Children and Adolescents. Pediatrics. 2017;140:e20171904.