, Volume 33, Issue 7, pp 1013-1020
Date: 08 May 2012

The Growing Epidemic of Hypertension Among Children and Adolescents: A Challenging Road Ahead

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Abstract

Currently, it is clear that primary hypertension begins in childhood and that it contributes to the early development of chronic kidney disease (CKD). Hypertension also increases the risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, and that risk rises as blood pressure levels escalate. As among adult patients, overweight and obesity rates are on the rise among children and adolescents with primary hypertension and can develop target organ damage including left ventricular hypertrophy. An elevated level of C-reactive protein (CRP) and microalbuminuria are early manifestations of cardiovascular disease and CKD in hypertensive patients. Lifestyle interventions are recommended for all children with hypertension. Pharmacologic therapy should be added for symptomatic children, those with stage 2 hypertension, and children with prehypertension and stage 1 hypertension who exhibit an insufficient response to lifestyle modifications. Although the recommendations for choice of drugs generally are similar for children and adults, dosages for children should be lower, based on weight, and adjusted very carefully. Medications that are effective and safe for children and adolescents include thiazide diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, beta-blockers, and calcium channel-blockers. Hypertension is not being detected early enough for initiation of a treatment regimen to reduce death and disability. Initiatives should be undertaken to make health care providers and the general population more aware of the seriousness of hypertension in children and adolescents. This review focuses on the principles underlying the importance of a team approach for hypertension control, especially one that incorporates increased data sharing using enhanced health information technology for early detection and intervention.