High blood pressure (HBP) has been linked to poor functioning of the heart and the kidneys as these organs play a key role in maintaining blood pressure in the normal range. To know more about causes of hypertension in children, read on…
High blood pressure (HBP) in children is relatively uncommon as compared to adults. To be precise, HBP diagnosis rate is high in adults in the age group of 65-74. Excess weight gain and obesity due to an unhealthy lifestyle are some of the factors that increase the risk of high blood pressure in adults. Although child obesity is on the rise (thanks to the advent of computers and playstations), it is not the only reason why hypertension is being diagnosed at a small age. For instance, if HBP is prevalent in the family, then the child too may suffer from blood pressure problems. So, other than obesity, what causes high blood pressure in children? It is discussed below:
Triggers of HBP in Children
It is observed that overweight children are predisposed to elevated blood pressure. In today’s times, children are more interested in sitting in front of the computer and television sets than playing outdoor games. This only contributes to sedentary living, thereby elevating their chances of weight gain and obesity. Surprisingly, kids with healthy weight also suffer from hypertension. What could be the underlying cause? It is observed that hypertension in children is often associated with poor functioning of certain organs.
Kidneys not working properly can raise the blood pressure in children. The kidneys are assigned the task of filtering blood to remove the fluid (urine) from the body. However, in case the kidneys are inefficient in doing their function correctly, it is difficult for the body to maintain a steady blood pressure. Also, the kidneys have control over the veins and the arteries that transport blood to it. For instance, the kidneys can stimulate these blood vessels to become narrow, which can also cause hypertension in children.
Renal Artery Stenosis
The renal artery connects the heart to the kidneys. Thus, blood transmission from the heart to the kidneys occurs through the renal artery. The renal artery carries approximately 1.5 liters of blood to the kidneys for filtration, hence these arteries are considered as a major source of blood supply to the kidneys. When the arteries become narrow, blood pressure is bound to increase. Narrowing of arteries means the diameter of these blood vessels decreases. In such circumstances, the blood has to squeeze itself to pass through the arteries, thereby exerting considerable amount of pressure on the arterial wall.
The main task of the heart is to collect fresh oxygenated blood from the lungs and deliver it to different parts of the body. When the heart beats, its pumping action pushes the blood with a constant force, known as blood pressure. Thus, one can understand how important it is for the heart to function properly in order to regulate blood pressure. Children diagnosed with congenital heart defects may develop high blood pressure. Abnormality in the heart’s structure existing at the time of birth or one can say a poorly developed heart, which may lead to high blood pressure. The baby might not show any high blood pressure symptoms immediately after birth but sooner or later hypertension problems are likely to erupt.
Malfunctioning of the Adrenal Gland
The adrenal gland lies exactly above the kidneys and its normal working is very important to maintain blood pressure. The adrenal gland produces a number of hormones including aldosterone that helps to regulate blood pressure. However, when the adrenal gland is not performing its function in the right way, it can cause excess secretion of aldosterone, eventually raising the blood pressure. Aldosterone keeps a check on the amount of sodium and potassium eliminated by the kidneys. In the presence of surplus aldosterone, the kidneys remove more potassium as compared to sodium and chloride. This eventually causes low potassium and excess sodium (salt) in the body, which can contribute in increasing blood pressure. Development of tumors in the adrenal gland could be one of the possible reasons behind abnormally high production of aldosterone.
High Cholesterol Levels
Children with high cholesterol also have a higher chance of developing HBP than their peers with healthy cholesterol. This is because too much cholesterol can cause arterial constriction (narrowing of arteries). In such a scenario, arterial wall experiences more pressure when the blood is traveling through these blood vessels.
Mismanagement of Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes in children also increases the risk of high blood pressure. Diabetes is nothing but the presence of exceptionally high sugar levels in the blood. Too much sugar in the blood can damage the arteries. The arterial wall becomes stiff and thick, thereby minimizing the diameter of the arteries. This reduced dimension of arteries puts extra pressure on the arterial wall during blood transmission. Thus, uncontrolled diabetes may lead to elevated blood pressure in children.
Usually, following healthy lifestyle modifications is enough to control mild HBP. However, if that does not work, then medication like diuretics (to improve the kidneys’ performance) and other drugs like Benaepril can help to combat HBP in children. One can understand that the correct diagnosis followed by proper treatment with hypertension medication, is the solution to control hypertension in children. Be it diabetes or high cholesterol, we as a parent need to take all the necessary steps to keep our kid’s medical problem under control. This will ensure that our children grow up healthily and lead a happy, fulfilling life despite having hypertension.