Childhood Hypertension: What Parents Should Know

It works the other way, too. When Jennifer Bright of Hellertown, PA, took her 12-year-old son, Austin, for his annual wellness check, his initial blood pressure was 130/90.

“The nurse looked at me, alarmed, and launched into a speech about the dangers of high blood pressure,” Bright says. “I calmly asked if she could take it again. Then I turned to Austin and explained that blood pressure can read high if you’re talking or under stress. So I asked him to relax, rest his feet on the floor, close his eyes, and take some deep breaths. When the nurse took it again, it was normal. He was just nervous.”

Bright now reminds Austin to do breathing exercises at every doctor’s visit or whenever he’s feeling stressed, even at school. “It turned out to be a great teaching opportunity,” she says, “and his blood pressure has been normal ever since.”

If your child is diagnosed with elevated blood pressure or hypertension, Solomon encourages parents to stay positive. “Don’t [say], ‘Oh my gosh, my kid has high blood pressure, and he’s going to be sick for the rest of his life,'” she says. “Yes, this is a chronic illness, but we know a lot about it, and it can be successfully managed. Simple lifestyle changes like becoming more active as a family and making healthier food choices can make a huge difference,” not only for their blood pressure but also for every other aspect of their health — now and for years to come.

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