A study presented this month (May 2009) at the annual Pediatric Academic Society meeting found that black children with high blood pressure were more likely to develop heart problems than other racial groups. This study evaluated 139 children (under age 21) with high blood pressure, 60% of the black kids had an enlarged heart and 37% of the other children had enlarged hearts. High blood pressure is more frequently found in adults but can occur in children especially if they are overweight and do not exercise. High blood pressure that is not controlled can lead to permanent heart damage.
Children need to be screened for high blood pressure (especially black children). When high blood pressure is identified lifestyle changes need to be encouraged in order to prevent early permanent heart damage. Weight loss, regular exercise and sodium restriction (less than 2,000 mg of sodium per day) can help children control their blood pressure.