Pediatrician creates easier way to identify kids' high BP

May 26, 2009

Pediatricians now have a new and simple way to diagnose a serious problem facing our nation's children - thanks to David Kaelber, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., MetroHealth System pediatrician, internist, and chief medical informatics officer and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine researcher and faculty member. Nearly 75% of cases of hypertension and 90% of cases of prehypertension in children and adolescents go undiagnosed.

These troubling statistics were documented in previously published research by Dr. Kaelber. From this research, Dr. Kaelber and fellow researchers felt that one of the main reasons for the under-diagnosis may be due to the complex chart currently used to help physicians and medical personnel identify high in . So Dr. Kaelber's team simplified the chart - focusing solely on a child's age and gender - eliminating the need for a height percentile and reducing the number of values in the blood pressure table from 476 to just 64. The revised chart and accompanying description are published in the June issue of the journal Pediatrics.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association recommend that blood pressure checks be done at all pediatric visits for health care (including dental and optometric appointments) for children ages 3 to 18. The current standard chart used by healthcare providers to evaluate pediatric blood pressure is from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and includes hundreds of normal and abnormal blood pressure values. In order to differentiate between normal and abnormal readings, providers need to, not only remember the variety of blood pressure ranges, but also know the child's height percentile - which can be difficult to verify, especially in non-primary care settings.

In re-designing the chart, Dr. Kaelber's team reduced the systolic and diastolic blood pressure cutoff values to one value for girls and one value for boys for each year of life from ages 3 to 18 plus. Researchers used the lower limit of height (5th percentile) in the abnormal blood pressure range for a given gender and age. While they note this may incorrectly flag some taller children as being in the abnormal blood pressure range, the researchers predict this number will be small compared to the number of children with prehypertension and hypertension who are identified. Any reading at or above the listed numbers in the chart will indicate a child who needs further evaluation by a physician.

"We know that children with high blood pressure often become adults with heart disease and other serious medical conditions," says Dr. Kaelber. "Anything that helps health care providers in identifying this life-threatening condition early is essential. The long-term solution will no doubt involve electronic medical records and other electronic tools, but until that is available in all healthcare settings, this simplified table should be a helpful screening tool."

Source: Case Western Reserve University (news : web)

Explore further: Sperm can carry Ebola for 82 days: WHO

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Can't chalk it up to 'baby fat'

Dec 29, 2008

Despite recent widespread media attention given to studies that have indicated one-third of American children have a weight problem, a new study shows just one-third of children who are overweight or obese actually receive ...

Recommended for you

Sperm can carry Ebola for 82 days: WHO

1 hour ago

Sperm can carry the Ebola virus for at least 82 days, the World Health Organization said Friday, urging men recovering from the disease to use condoms for three months after the onset of symptoms.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

deatopmg
not rated yet May 26, 2009
Kaelber seems to have an excessively inflated ego having to include all those letters after his name or maybe it's just his CWRU publicists problem. There is a very strong inverse relationship between ability and cited titles and memberships after ones name.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.