, Volume 25, Issue 7, pp 1219-1224,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 07 May 2009

Hypertension in children and adolescents: epidemiology and natural history

Abstract

Primary hypertension is detectable in children and adolescents and, as in adults, is associated with a positive family history of hypertension, obesity, and life-style factors. Owing to the well-established childhood obesity epidemic, the population prevalence of high blood pressure (BP) in the young is increasing. Hypertension in childhood is commonly associated with other cardiovascular risk factors as well as obesity. Although death and cardiovascular disability do not occur in hypertensive children, intermediate markers of target organ damage, such as left ventricular hypertrophy, thickening of the carotid vessel wall, retinal vascular changes, and even subtle cognitive changes, are detectable in children and adolescents with high BP. Considering the rates of verified hypertension (>3%) and pre-hypertension (>3%) in asymptomatic children and adolescents, high BP should be considered a common long-term health problem in childhood.