Sharp increase in hospitalizations for children with hypertension
June 18th, 2012
04:40 PM ET

Sharp increase in hospitalizations for children with hypertension

The number of hospitalizations for children with high blood pressure more than doubled from 1997 to 2006, according to a new study.  The number rose from 12,661 hospitalizations in 1997 to 24,602 in 2006.  The study is published in the American Heart Association journal, Hypertension.

"There have been some published studies that have demonstrated an increase in frequency of hypertension among kids in the outpatient settings in the clinics," said Dr. Cheryl Tran, study author and fellow in the Department of Pediatric Nephrology at the University of Michigan.

"In our study, we found we also are seeing this trend in the inpatient setting," she said.

"It definitely was surprising- we may be seeing a reflection of that from the rise in hypertension from the outpatient setting, but I think what was also alarming was the economic burden created by the inpatient pediatric hypertension."

The cost of the hospitalizations in the 10 years reviewed reached an estimated $3.1 billion, according to the study.

The researchers reviewed hospital discharge data for the study. They included all children aged 2 to 18 who were treated for hypertension during hospitalizations, regardless of their primary diagnosis or the main reason why they were hospitalized.

Those most likely to have high blood pressure were older than 9, male and African-American, according to the study.  Some had end-stage renal (kidney) disease.

The study found children with hypertension had an average length of stay of eight days- double that of non-hypertensive kids.

Childhood obesity may play a role in the sharp increase in hospitalizations.

American Heart Association spokesman Dr. Ernesto Schiffrin from the Department of Medicine at McGill University, Montreal, Quebec said obesity seems to be an even stronger risk factor for high blood pressure in children than it is in adults.

"Increasingly, these are children with essential hypertension- this is consequence of the epidemic of obesity and diabetes that is found increasingly in teenagers and younger children," he said.

"If we are going to prevent adult hypertension, we have to start at this early age by avoiding obesity, cutting back on salt and exercising- otherwise this will increase further the prevalence of adult hypertension and the huge costs that will occur accordingly."

Both parents and children need to be educated about healthy eating, cutting back on calories and increasing exercise, Schiffrin added.

soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. lindaluttrell

    Kids eat more fast food these days. If there has to be a program nationwide to get kids out to play one hour a day, this says a lot. Never mind the stress of school: keeping grades up and dealing with bullies. I can see where it would be scary just being a kid these days.

    June 19, 2012 at 10:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Fred Evil

    Don't worry, Big Pharma will develop a pill that costs $200/month, and families will be put in the poorhouse trying to keep the kids on their 'meds.'

    June 19, 2012 at 14:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tony

      Only if their irresponsible parents continue to let them eat crap.

      June 19, 2012 at 18:56 | Report abuse |
    • sr1378

      It is the parents responsibility to stock up on healthy foods vs snack cakes and cheese puffs. My wife is a pediatrics PA and she sees the same thing every day. Parents are buying and allowing their children to eat what they want. It is not easy being a parent, but your child's health is your responsibility. It is your house. You pay the bills. You buy the groceries. Buy the right foods, make the right dinners. If the child refuses to eat it, so be it. One missed meal will not hurt them. We have three children and we do practice what we preach. We also started a website as a resource for parents – http://www.childrenhypertension.com.

      June 21, 2012 at 23:31 | Report abuse |
  3. disabilityhelpsitedotcom

    Diet aside, life as a adolescent must be very stressful today then when I was young (40 years ago). I realize the "excuses" for pre-teen stress sound like a broken record (school, peers, media, etc) but they are real. Now more than ever kids need positive attention from parents and other relatives.

    Our diet as a society is basically a joke. Add stress to high fat, high salt, MSG and others; what do you get? Nothing positive I know that. At least encourage the kids to play.

    June 19, 2012 at 14:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bookenz

      Life is just stressful, that's a fact. Kids today don't get enough exercise and they eat junk. They need to spend more time outside and less time on their computers/video games/cell phones.

      June 19, 2012 at 15:12 | Report abuse |
  4. disabilityhelpsite.com

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    June 19, 2012 at 14:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Quoting

    Yeah its not to hard to see why this is happening in the times we live in. Times of kids eating terrible foods and not being active at all. Staying inside playing video games or on the computer etc...

    June 19, 2012 at 22:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Chris

    SLEEP! Focus on sleep disorder, especially breathing obstructions.

    June 20, 2012 at 00:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. P

    Wow! I never would have imagined children suffering drastically from hypertension, which is the consequence of obesity and diabetes in teenagers and young children. There is such a big hype about cupcakes, fast food, etc. that it is leading to this unfortunate outcome of children being hospitalized. Maybe obesity should be talked about in political debates due to the costs of hospitalization being near $3.1 billion. Should fast food restaurants start having an age restriction? It's doing nothing but harm.

    June 26, 2012 at 10:49 | Report abuse | Reply
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