New pediatric blood pressure guidelines identify more kids at higher risk of premature heart disease

Photo of a blood pressure cuff on a child

Hypertension Journal Report

New guidelines that classified more children as having elevated blood pressure are better at predicting which kids are likely to develop heart disease when they reach adulthood, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension. The guidelines were issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 2017 and endorsed by the American Heart Association.

Compared with the 2004 guidelines from the AAP, the 2017 guidelines increased the number of children classified as being in higher blood pressure categories, but it was not clear if the new criteria effectively identified children who were at higher risk of premature heart disease.

“After reviewing years of information from the Bogalusa Heart Study, we concluded that compared with children with normal blood pressure, those reclassified as having elevated or high blood pressure were more likely to develop adult high blood pressure, thickening of the heart muscle wall and the metabolic syndrome – all risk factors for heart disease,” said Lydia A. Bazzano, M.D., Ph.D., senior author of the study and associate professor of epidemiology at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans.

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