Obesity can cause high blood pressure in children, so would it be practical to give an overweight child regular home blood pressure checks?
After all, no child (or adult) should have this so-called silent killer. And when it doesn’t kill, hypertension can lead to chronic heart failure and a heart rhythm disorder.
A wide assortment of home blood pressure devices are sold online and at regular stores.
They’re so easy to use, and for some parents, it may be tempting to routinely take their overweight child’s blood pressure.
But Should You?
“Routine BP checks at home are not necessary if the child is seeing a doctor regularly,” says Dr. Lisa Lewis, MD, a board certified pediatrician in Fort Worth, Texas, and author of “Feed the Baby Hummus, Pediatrician-Backed Secrets from Cultures Around the World.”
“BP’s in children are not easy to obtain accurately,” continues Dr. Lewis.
“If blood pressure is a problem, typically the doctor will ask the child to come back once a week for BP checks to get an accurate measurement until the BP is under control.
“For convenience, some doctors will prescribe BP checks at home or with the school nurse if there is a health care professional taking the BP.
“If an obese child cannot obtain follow-up with the doctor every six months, and a health care professional can take the BP at home (or via a school nurse), getting a BP out of the office would be better than no follow-up.”
If you’re concerned over your child’s blood pressure, then he should be in regular contact with a physician.
In addition, the parent’s concern should manifest itself in the following ways:
• Awareness of the child’s consumption of salt, including that in canned goods.
• Replacing processed high calorie snacks with non-sweetened yogurt, fruit, salads and nuts.
A plate of scrambled eggs with a little bit of cheese, plus vegetables added in, of a boiled potato with some chives and seasoning sprinkled on, is highly preferable to munchies, cookies, ice cream, candy and other processed fare that overweight kids often fill up on.
• Mandating the child take part in regular, structured physical activity such as martial arts, hiking, roller-blading, swim lessons and/or being on a sports team.
• Refusing to use food as a reward or a way to calm down a cranky child. Quick fixes can have detrimental consequences in the long run.
Do not obsess about your obese child’s blood pressure just because you have one of those handy devices in the home.
But do keep regular tabs on what her numbers are and keep in regular contact with the doctor.
Having 20+ years’ experience, Dr. Lewis completed her pediatrics residency at Texas A&M University Health Science Center, Scott and White Memorial Hospital. For two years afterward she was assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at Texas A&M University Health Science Center.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.