Hypertension: Children increasingly suffer from high blood pressure - mostly due to being overweight

Hypertension: Children increasingly suffer from high blood pressure - mostly due to being overweight

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Life-threatening consequences: Experts warn of high blood pressure in childhood

Research has shown that more and more children suffer from high blood pressure. The reason for this is mostly overweight. High blood pressure in childhood can have dramatic health consequences later in life. Health experts therefore advise against hypertension at an early stage.

High blood pressure (hypertension) not only affects adults, more and more children suffer from it. In most cases, overweight is the cause. According to a study published in the "Journal of Health Monitoring", one in four children with obesity has high blood pressure values, which can later lead to life-threatening cardiovascular complications such as a heart attack or stroke. Therefore, the German High Pressure League e.V. DHL® | German Society for Hypertension and Prevention Parents to counteract high blood pressure at an early stage and maintain a healthy lifestyle with the whole family.

Consequential damage in childhood and adolescence

As the Hypertension League writes in a statement, over 15 percent of girls and boys ages three to 17 are overweight, almost six percent obese, and around seven percent of overweight and 25 percent of obese children have high blood pressure - and the trend is rising. The consequences of uncontrolled blood pressure are particularly serious at a young age. The first consequential damage can already show in childhood and adolescence, such as a thickening of the heart muscle and the blood vessel walls.

Obese people are at twice the risk of high blood pressure
A recent Spanish study published in the "European Journal of Preventive Cardiology" shows that overweight or obese four to six-year-old children already have a 2 to 2.5 times higher risk of high blood pressure - with dramatic health consequences in later life.

According to the professional associations and specialist societies for neurology, psychiatry and psychotherapy, psychosomatic medicine and child and adolescent psychiatry in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy, 300 children suffer a stroke every year in Germany, and every tenth of them suffers serious consequential damage. However, these childhood strokes are not a direct result of high blood pressure and obesity.

These risk factors only take their toll later: As a Danish study showed, they significantly increase the risk of having a stroke before the age of 55. The situation is similar with the heart attack risk. "The longer a person is exposed to elevated blood pressure levels, the higher the risk of such cardiovascular complications," said Prof. Dr. Bernhard K. Krämer, CEO of the German High Pressure League e.V. DHL® | German Society for Hypertension and Prevention. "Hypertension must therefore be treated consistently right from the start, even in childhood."

Measure blood pressure at the age of three

The "European Society of Hypertension" (ESH) therefore recommends measuring the blood pressure of all children and adolescents from the age of 3 each time they visit a doctor, especially if there are risk factors such as chronic illnesses, prematurity, overweight and / or lack of exercise .

For parents who want to measure the blood pressure of their offspring at home, the high pressure league has a recommendation: “Take it easy. Show your child how to measure blood pressure. Let your child measure your blood pressure. Maybe your child can also measure blood pressure with grandparents or other relatives, ”the experts write on their website.

"If the doctor determines that the blood pressure in a child is too high, action should be taken immediately after the cause has been clarified: By switching to a balanced diet, in the case of obesity with the aim of reducing weight, and providing suitable exercise options for the child, a reduction can usually be made or even normalization of blood pressure can be achieved, ”explained Prof. med. Elke Wühl, Pediatric Nephrology Section, Center for Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine at Heidelberg University Hospital.

But in some cases, drug therapy is essential. According to the experts, most antihypertensive drugs are well tolerated and work as well in children and adolescents as in adults. It is important to take the prescribed preparation regularly and to monitor your blood pressure regularly, and parents should pay close attention to this in their child's everyday life.

Parents' lifestyle shapes their offspring

Basically, a healthy and active lifestyle of the parents supports and is also exemplary for the children. Parents should therefore become active against high blood pressure themselves, incorporate regular exercise into everyday family life, regardless of whether they are cycling, hiking or playing ball games.

Cooking healthy together brings the taste of children to a healthy, light diet. "Very important: lead the child a healthy lifestyle for yourself - because children can not be fooled. Those who preach water but drink wine are not taken seriously by children and young people! ”Says Prof. Elke Wühl. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • German high pressure league: high pressure to school? DHL® warns of high blood pressure in childhood, (accessed: August 20, 2019), German Hypertension League
  • Robert Koch Institute, Journal of Health Monitoring: Overweight and Obesity in Childhood and Adolescence in Germany - Cross-Sectional Results from KiGGS Wave 2 and Trends, (accessed: August 20, 2019), Robert Koch Institute, Journal of Health Monitoring
  • European Journal of Preventive Cardiology: Association between general and central adiposity and development of hypertension in early childhood, (access: 20.08.2019), European Journal of Preventive Cardiology
  • German high pressure league: high blood pressure (k) a topic in children and adolescents, (accessed: 20.08.2019), German high pressure league
  • JAMA Neurology: Association of Childhood Body Mass Index and Change in Body Mass Index With First Adult Ischemic Stroke, (accessed: August 20, 2019), JAMA Neurology

Video: Hypertension in children - Dr James McLay (December 2022).