high blood pressure in children

A meta-analysis of almost 50 articles published over a 24-year period examined the global prevalence of high blood pressure in children.

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is very common, and many people who have it do not realize that they do.  A normal blood pressure range is below 120/80mmHg.  Elevated blood pressure is characterized by a systolic blood pressure of 120-129mmHg.  Stage 1 and stage 2 hypertension have systolic blood pressures of 130-139mmHg and over 140mmHg, respectively.

Hypertension typically has no symptoms, but it can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease because the increased pressure puts stress on the arteries.  Some risk factors for hypertension include family history, obesity, lack of physical activity, and heavy sodium and alcohol consumption.  Moreover, high blood pressure is associated with the use of tobacco and illegal drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines.

Age is another risk factor for high blood pressure.  Approximately 60 percent of the population has hypertension at the age of 60, and 70 percent of the population has hypertension at the age of 70.  However, there has been a recent increase in cases of hypertension in children and adolescents.  A meta-analysis published in JAMA Pediatrics examined the percentage of children around the world that have high blood pressure.

The study examined 47 articles published between 1994 and 2018, and all included studies that measured blood pressure on three occasions or more in children 19 years and under.  Groups were divided based on age, sex, country, BMI, and more.  Childhood hypertension was measured overall as well as in groups.

Overall, 4% of all children worldwide had stage 1 high blood pressure.  Additionally, 9.67% of children had prehypertension and 0.95% of children had more severe stage 2 hypertension.  The percentage increased significantly to 15.27% in overweight children and 4.99% in obese children, which is consistent with the fact that obesity is a risk factor for hypertension.  Furthermore, the prevalence of high blood pressure increased from 2000 to 2015, with a relative increasing rate of 75% to 79%.

This meta-analysis shows that childhood hypertension is more common than initially perceived, and it is becoming more common.  More research is needed to determine risk factors and how to decrease the risk of developing high blood pressure in children.


Written by Avery Bisbee



High blood pressure (hypertension). (2018, May 12). Retrieved October 10, 2019, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/symptoms-causes/syc-20373410.

How common is high blood pressure among children worldwide? (n.d.). Retrieved October 10, 2019, from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-10/jn-hci100419.php.

Pepine, C. J. (2011). Hypertension in the elderly. Endocrinology of Aging. Retrieved from https://www.healio.com/endocrinology/news/print/endocrine-today/{1c445aed-76da-4e40-ab13-4fe98985b6b6}/hypertension-in-the-elderly

Song, P., Zhang, Y., & Yu, J., et al. (2019). Global prevalence of hypertension in Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Pediatrics. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.3310

Image by Daniela Dimitrova from Pixabay


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