-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Not enough evidence exists to
recommend that children and teens be screened for high blood
pressure, a U.S. government-appointed panel says.
High blood pressure among American children and teens has been
rising, in part due to the increase in childhood obesity. Several
expert groups have recommended that children and teens be screened
for high blood pressure.
It's difficult to predict which youngsters will develop high
blood pressure as adults and it's unclear whether lowering blood
pressure in children and teens leads to improved cardiovascular
health in adulthood, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said
in a final recommendation released Oct. 7.
The panel also noted that very little research has been done on
the effectiveness and safety of blood pressure medications when
used for months or years by children and teens.
The recommendation applies specifically to youngsters who have
no signs or symptoms of high blood pressure or an underlying health
problem. It also applies only to primary hypertension and not
secondary hypertension, which is usually caused by an underlying
health problem and treated as part of that underlying
The task force recommendation, which is based on a review of
studies published since 2003, was published online Oct. 7 in the
Annals of Internal Medicine.
"The Task Force recognizes the importance of cardiovascular health for all people, including children and adolescents," panel member Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo said in task force news release.
"We don't know if lowering blood pressure in youth leads to improved cardiovascular health in adulthood. We also don't know the long-term benefits and harms for children and adolescents who initiate blood pressure medications when they are young," she noted.
"While there is much we don't know, we do know that eating a healthy diet, being active, and maintaining a normal weight are ways children and teens can improve their cardiovascular health," she added.
The task force called for more research to determine if
screening and treatment of high blood pressure in youngsters
improves their long-term cardiovascular health.
The U.S. National Kidney Disease Education Program has more
high blood pressure and children.
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