Guidelines Urge Toddler Blood Pressure Readings

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The National High Blood Pressure Education Program has written new guidelines for checking children's blood pressure. Federal guidelines suggested checking children for possible heart and blood vessel damage if they have hypertension. The updated guidelines, reported in Pediatrics (July 2004), encouraged physicians to begin checking children for high blood pressure at age 3 during routine office visits, just as they do for adults.

Factors for the increasing high blood pressure among children include obesity, less physical activity, and dietary chnages. The most current health statistics indicated that children's blood pressures have increased slightly but significantly in a decade. For example, average systolic pressure has risen from 105 to 106, and diastolic has gone from 58 to 62.