Chronic Diseases

Children can also have high blood pressure

Diet and family history can cause it. Early identification improves their quality of life.

High blood pressure and children

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is becoming an increasingly common problem in children and teens. One recent study found that out of 15,000 teens, nearly one in five had high blood pressure.
In Boyle Heights, hypertension is a growing problem among the youth population. Hispanic children are at a greater risk of hypertension. If you have a family history of high blood pressure, your children are more likely to develop this condition. It’s important to understand the causes, diagnosis, and treatment options.

What Causes Hypertension in Children?
When children develop hypertension, it’s normally due to a related health condition, like kidney disease, heart defects, genetic conditions, or hormonal disorders. But other factors, such as family history and weight, can also cause young children to develop high blood pressure.
There are two forms of hypertension:

  • Primary: No single known cause, but different factors, such as lifestyle and genetics, play a role in development.
  • Secondary: Caused by a known underlying condition.

Causes of Primary Hypertension in Children
Primary hypertension is more common in older children, usually six years of age and older. There are several factors that can increase the risk of high blood pressure in children, such as:

Being Overweight
Being overweight puts you at a higher risk of high blood pressure. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, Hispanic children were 1.8 times more likely to be obese compared to non-Hispanic children between 2013 and 2016.

Eating too much salt and having high cholesterol can increase a child’s risk of high blood pressure.
Red meat, tortillas (especially fried corn tortillas), fried chicken, and other fatty foods can increase your child’s cholesterol levels.

Children with type 2 diabetes are more likely to have hypertension. The two conditions often go hand-in-hand. Hispanics are 17% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than non-Hispanic whites.

Family History
Doctors believe that Latinos are at a greater risk of hypertension because of genes and diet. Many Hispanic children with high blood pressure have a mother, grandfather, or uncle with the condition.

Causes of Secondary Hypertension in Children
Secondary hypertension is caused by a known underlying medical condition and tends to be more common in young children. Conditions that can cause hypertension include:

  • Kidney disease
  • Adrenal disorders
  • Heart problems
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Sleep disorders
  • Certain medications

Many children who develop hypertension will continue to struggle with this condition for the rest of their lives.

How Is Hypertension Diagnosed?
Diagnosing hypertension is a straightforward process.

  • The doctor will perform an exam and ask about your child’s lifestyle, nutrition, medical history, and your family’s medical history.
  • Your child’s blood pressure will be taken.
  • If the reading is higher than normal during at least three doctor visits, your child may be diagnosed with hypertension.

Your child’s doctor may also perform some other tests to see if an underlying condition is causing high blood pressure, such as:

  • Urine sample
  • Blood test
  • Ultrasound
  • Echocardiogram

What Treatments are Available?
If your child is diagnosed with mild or moderate hypertension, the doctor will likely recommend lifestyle changes to manage the condition, such as:

  • Diet changes
  • Exercise

Medication may be recommended in cases of severe high blood pressure.

In the Boyle Heights area, treatment for hypertension can be sought at:

You can also find more trusted local services in your community at or download the Boyle Heights Resources app.


Chronic Diseases
What is Hypertension?

All you need to know about this disease: causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.