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Hypertension Frequently Undiagnosed in Children

Age, frequency of abnormal blood pressure readings increase odds of diagnosis

TUESDAY, Aug. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Hypertension and prehypertension are frequently undiagnosed in children and adolescents, with factors such as age and frequency of abnormal blood pressure readings increasing the likelihood of diagnosis, researchers report in the Aug. 22/29 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

David C. Kaelber, M.D., Ph.D., from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues assessed the frequency of prehypertension or hypertension in 14,187 children and adolescents aged 3 to 18 years, who were seen at least three times for well-child care.

The researchers found that 3.6 percent of children or adolescents had hypertension, of whom 26 percent had documented high blood pressure, and 3.4 percent of children had prehypertension, which was documented in 11 percent of cases. Older age and frequency of elevated blood pressure readings increased the likelihood of being diagnosed with prehypertension, while greater height-for-age percentile and having an obesity-related diagnosis increased the likelihood of being diagnosed with hypertension.

"Hypertension and prehypertension were frequently undiagnosed in this pediatric population," Kaelber and colleagues conclude. "Patient age, height, obesity-related diagnoses, and magnitude and frequency of abnormal blood pressure readings all increased the odds of diagnosis."

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