New Hypertension Clinic For Children Opens At Schneider Children’s Medical Center
Hypertension (high BP) is the leading cause for the development of cardiac and vascular complications, symptoms of which can be seen already in childhood. The prevalence of high BP has increased over recent decades due to, inter alia, the growing rate of obesity. Some 3-3.5% of children and adolescents suffer from high BP. Children and especially adolescents with hypertension are in heightened danger of suffering from the disease even as adults. In addition, signs of cardiac and vascular damage can already be seen in childhood.
Diagnosis and treatment of children with high BP differs from that of adults on several levels: firstly, it is more difficult to diagnose high BP in children due to the difficulty of accurate measuring of blood pressure, and also because the values which define hypertension change according to age, gender and height. Secondly, as opposed to adults, children have a higher incidence of secondary hypertension which results from another specific physical disorder requiring special diagnosis and treatment.
The objective of the new service is to raise awareness of the disorder, avoid future complications through early identification, administer optimal care to each child according to his needs within available therapies (medicinal or not, nutrition and changes in lifestyle). The team in the clinic comprises a nurse experienced in measuing blood pressure in children, specialists in pediatric nephrology skilled in the diagnosis and treatment of high BP, and a dietician. Where there is doubt regarding the existence of high BP or its severity, the team can offer the patient, as part of the evaluation, a device to measure blood pressure at home over 24 hours.
Dr. Gilad Hamdani, senior physician in the Institute of Nephrology at Schneider Children’s, said that “it is clear that high BP, a common disorder in adults, exists to a certain degree in childhood. We receive a large number of referrals of children for suspected hypertension. The problem is that awareness is relatively low. For example, in many cases, we see adolescents who previously never had their blood pressure measured until preparation for their mobilization in the military.
This being so, we recognized the need for a Hypertension Clinic for Children in order to achieve two key objectives – advance and integrate the importance of proper blood pressure measurement as part of routine follow-up of children and adolescents on the one hand, and provide a broad response to those found to have hypertension on the other.”