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You may think of high blood pressure as a problem that only affects adults. But that’s simply not true: An estimated 3.5 percent of kids and teens in the US have high blood pressure, also called hypertension, which often goes undetected. That’s scary, because if untreated, hypertension could eventually lead to organ damage or coronary artery disease, says the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
To keep your kid’s heart healthy and his or her blood pressure in check:
- Make sure your child has an annual blood pressure screening, starting at age 3 during well visits.
- If your child was preterm or had a low birth weight, screenings should begin sooner.
- Help your kid maintain a healthy weight. By age 7, about half of hypertension is caused by obesity; that number rises to 85 percent by the teen years.
- Limit your family’s intake of salt and canned or packaged foods.
- Get moving together. AAP recommends at least one hour of physical activity a day.