High blood pressure risk is no kids' stuff

PHOTO: High blood pressure risk is no kids' stuff

THE recent study which showed that more children could be at risk for high blood pressure is something that parents should take seriously.

As a mother, my biggest concern is the health of my five-year-old son because my family has a history of high blood pressure. 

My grandparents and my parents all died of either stroke or heart attack, which more often than not, is caused by elevated blood pressure.

That is reason enough for me to be alarmed.

With the possibility of children suffering from stroke or heart attack, the new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics suggested that kids should check their blood pressure.

"I do think it's important that everybody gets screened for high blood pressure," said Dr Karen Redwine of Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock, who made the research.

"The overall rate for developing high blood pressure when you're a teenager is still very low. But there is a subset of people whose rate of developing high blood pressure is anywhere from two to five times that, and a lot of those are children who would now be considered normal," she added.

Redwine said that doctors used to think that children's blood pressure measurement go up when they are nervous or a little sick.

"If it's elevated even once then you need to watch it and monitor it," she stressed.

The children who took part in the study with slightly high blood pressure have been diagnosed with "pre-hypertension" which, according to the news item from Reuters Health is controversial because it doesn't describe a disease but rather, it is a risk factor for later developing high blood pressure, which itself is a risk factor for heart disease".

Pre-hypertension in children, according to the The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in 2004, is a blood pressure reading of 120/80 and 139/89. High blood pressure starts at 140 over 90.

But a heart disease prevention expert expressed concern that the result of the study could only be a strategy of pharmaceutical companies to sell medications.

"What troubles me a bit is that they talk about pharmacologic therapy," said Dr Curt D Furberg, who works at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

"Drug companies want to increase their market. In this area, considering healthy young kids for pharmacologic therapy doesn't make sense," said Furberg, who is also a professor of public health.

"This is what the industry is trying to do, to get people on drugs," he said. "They are pushing that for adults, and now they seem to move to kids, which is troublesome."

Furberg sure has a point with regards to his "drug companies' marketing strategy" opinion but Redwine's study can be a wake-up call for parents to keep a close watch on what their children eat.

Monitoring children's eating habits is difficult and it can be done only if the parents are health conscious.

So if your parents raise you up eating like how my father described "as if there is no tomorrow," then you just have to blame them for what you have become a voracious eater.

And when you become a parent, you will most likely continue to overeat and expose your children to the same eating pattern.

Doctors always advise us to cut back on salt and sugar intake but this is easier said than done.


What more if you're dealing with children?

Kids have this addiction to unhealthy food (chips, carbonated drinks, candies, chocolates, etc) which, in my opinion, should be blamed on advertising.

When I say advertising, I meant false advertising.

Carbonated drinks are never healthy but to encourage consumers, companies use "diet" or "zero" while potato chips claim to have "no MSG" and "no preservatives."

Even ready-to-drink milk and juice in tetra packs, which are considered snacks among children, are unhealthy because of high sugar content and artificial flavouring.

Yet, these products claim to be "rich in vitamins" if you check the label.

But there is still hope for those overweight kids.

Exercise can help and parents should encourage their young children to start and keep an active lifestyle.

Getting your children into sports is actually a good choice to keep their weights down.

We gain extra pounds when we don't burn the calories we get from the food we eat.

It's that simple.

So I would like to advise parents to monitor the eating habits of their young children to keep them away from having high blood pressure.

Keep in mind that prevention is better than cure.

The views of the writer are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Brunei Times.