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(HealthDay)—There's good news and bad news from a new report when it comes to high blood pressure among America's children.
The good news: perhaps because of better diets and use of antihypertensive medications, the percentage of kids with high blood pressure declined between 2001 and 2016, according to a research team from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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The bad news: New hypertension guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 2017 lowered the threshold for a diagnosis of high blood pressure in those under 19 years of age, and that means 795,000 more children are now classified as having the condition than before.
But is that really bad news? One heart specialist thinks not.
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"The new hypertension guidelines have reclassified those young patients who previously were considered to have 'normal' blood pressure to now fall under the category of high blood pressure," said Dr. Rachel Bond, who helps direct women's heart health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
The new guidelines are "a positive step towards screening and risk-stratifying younger patients, who are often neglected from the health system," she said.
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Bond wasn't involved in the new report, but said that "by diagnosing these patients earlier in life, we can implement aggressive lifestyle modifications through diet and exercise with the hope of completely changing their future cardiovascular disease risk."
The new study was led by Sandra Jackson, a heart researcher at the CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
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Before the AAP changed the threshold for hypertension, kids aged 12 to 17 who either were already taking a high blood pressure medication, or who placed within the top 5 percent of pediatric blood pressure readings, were deemed to be hypertensive. For those aged 18 to 19, hypertension was defined as readings of 140/90 mmHg or above, and/or the...
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