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Despite tests, high blood pressure hard to recognize in children
Date:5/2/2010

A Johns Hopkins Children's Center study of 2,500 patient records suggests that medical staff fails to check a child's blood pressure a fifth of the time, and is not recognizing what constitutes an abnormal reading in those whose blood pressure they do check.

Researchers at Hopkins Children's say the consequences are that pediatricians and nurses may be missing the development of hypertension and its serious consequences, even when they do take blood pressure measurements.

The American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) guidelines call for regular blood pressure checks in children 3 years and older to screen for elevated blood pressure, and say elevated blood pressure on three consecutive medical visits qualifies as hypertension. Even a single episode of high blood pressure can indicate hypertension and should trigger repeat measurements during the visit and subsequent doctor visits, the AAP says.

The problem is that measuring a child's blood pressure is far more complicated than it is in adults and requires interpreting each individual measure against a reference table for age, gender and height, says lead investigator Tammy Brady, M.D., M.H.S., a nephrologist at Hopkins Children's.

The researchers analyzed 2,500 records of visits to the pediatrician's office. Medical staff did not check blood pressure in 500 of the cases. Elevated blood pressure scores were recorded in 726 cases of the 2,000 measurements taken, but the implications went unrecognized and unremarked upon in 87 percent of them, the study found.

The findings, to be published in June's Pediatrics and appearing online May 3, underscore the need for better recognition and aggressive monitoring of all children to prevent both the short-term and long-term complications of hypertension, the investigators say.

The study found that medical staff was more likely to miss elevated blood pressures in children of normal weight and in those without a family history of cardiovascular diseas
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Contact: Ekaterina Pesheva
epeshev1@jhmi.edu
410-926-6780
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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