Does Your Child Need Blood Pressure Screenings?

A child, sitting on an exam table, as a doctor takes his blood pressure.
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High blood pressure doesn’t just affect adults. While it’s far less common in children, it can happen at any age and is just as dangerous if left unchecked. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children have yearly blood pressure screenings starting at age 3. This annual check gives providers the opportunity to keep an eye on your child’s heart health and address any problems early.

What Happens If My Child Has High Blood Pressure?

One reading doesn’t mean your child has chronic hypertension. And it can be hard to capture an accurate reading of your child’s blood pressure — age, height and gender can all affect results. Anxiety over doctor visits and an inability to sit still can also give an inaccurate blood pressure reading.

If your child has a concerning reading, your doctor will ask you to come for another visit to see if his or her blood pressure is still high. If your child has high blood pressure three visits in a row, your doctor will work with you and your child to create a personalized treatment plan to lower it. 

How Is High Blood Pressure Managed in Children?

The first step in managing high blood pressure is making healthy lifestyle changes. That may include working with your child to:

Cut Back on Salt

Take the salt shaker off the table and limit high-sodium foods like deli meat, pizza and even bread.

Get Active

Regular exercise offers many physical and mental benefits, including lowering blood pressure. The AAP recommends that all children get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. 

Maintain a Healthy Weight

If your child is overweight or obese, your pediatrician will work closely with your family to guide a healthy weight-loss program. 

Talk to Your Child’s Doctor

If you’re concerned about your child’s blood pressure, heart health or any other health issues, talk to your child’s pediatrician. Together, you can discuss risk factors and make a plan to improve your child’s whole health.

Find a pediatrician near you.

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