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High blood pressure isn't just a grown-up problem. An increasing number of US kids and teens may now be diagnosed thanks to new standards created to help identify and treat 3- to 18-year-olds with high blood pressure. The new guidelines were published by the American Academy of Pediatrics in August.

Previous guidelines only included overweight kids, which skewed the numbers since they are prone to higher blood pressure. New standards will compare kids with those in their weight class. The result: More children may be diagnosed with high blood pressure at their annual physicals.

About 3.5 percent of US children and adolescents—that’s 1.5 to 2 million kids—have abnormally high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. The scariest part? This silent condition has no visible symptoms. Left untreated, it can lead to future kidney, brain and heart problems.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has the following recommendations:

• Eat plenty of fruits and veggies, and choose foods low in salt and high in potassium.

• Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases high blood pressure risk.

• Kids and adolescents should get one hour of physical activity every day.

 

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