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Many Teens With High Blood Pressure Don't Get Needed Tests
Date:7/23/2012

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) -- High blood pressure is a growing problem in teens, partly due to the rising number of obese teens, and federal guidelines suggest specific tests be done to diagnose the effects of the condition.

However, fewer than one in four teens with high blood pressure receives the tests recommended by U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute guidelines, a new study finds. On the other hand, about half of those in the study received electrocardiograms (EKGs), which are not recommended to help with diagnosis in children with high blood pressure.

"We found that the most common test used for adolescents was the EKG, a non-recommended test, and that the recommended tests were both infrequently used," said researcher Dr. Esther Yoon, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

"High blood pressure in teens should not be taken lightly," Yoon said. It increases the risk for heart disease and other problems.

The study was published online July 23 in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Yoon and her colleagues evaluated claims data from 951 Michigan teens, aged 12 to 18, with high blood pressure who were Medicaid patients between 2003 and 2008.

Of these, 24 percent, had an echocardiogram. This test uses sound waves to examine the heart and is recommended to help doctors decide if medication is needed to treat the high blood pressure.

Just 22 percent, about one in five, got a kidney ultrasound to determine if the high blood pressure was affecting the kidneys. This test is also recommended in teens with high blood pressure.

However, half got an EKG, although the guidelines put out by the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) don't recommend this test in evaluating teens with high blood pressure. An EKG is a noninvasive test that records electrical activi
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