Should Children Be Tested For High Blood Pressure?

Researchers have suggested blood pressure checks during children’s checkups. Some doctors believe if these tests were conducted at an early age, more could be done to prevent the health risks that often accompany high blood pressure in adulthood. However, a recent study suggests there isn’t enough evidence to encourage the tests at a young age.

Fueling the debate

Should children be tested for high blood pressure?
Should children be tested for high blood pressure?

High blood pressure is linked to heart problems, which accounts for 7 million deaths annually.

“We know if blood pressure is very high it can cause immediate problems. While high blood pressure is sometimes symptomatic, it’s not always. So it’s important to always monitor it,” said Daniels, chair of the department of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora.

The immediate risks are the reason the debate continues, according to Fox News.

“There is a lot of discussion about screening for cardiovascular risk factors early in life and I wanted to explore this topic more,” said Dr. Arnaud Chiolero, the study’s lead author, from Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland.

A lack of evidence

Chiolero and his colleagues say there are few studies that investigate the risks of high blood pressure in kids. Studies that have been conducted are inclusive. These studies alone aren’t enough to convince Chiloero to push for testing.

“It can be concluded that, for now, there is no compelling evidence in favor of universal blood pressure screening among healthy children,” the researchers write.

How young is too young to test for high blood pressure?
How young is too young to test for high blood pressure?

“At this point, the jury is out. We just don’t know if this is worth doing or not,” Dr. Matthew Thompson, who led the new research at Oxford University in the UK, told Reuters.

Thompson agrees, saying until more research is done, it’s unclear if testing kids is worth it.

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