Pediatric Nephrology Clinical Services : Conditions & Procedures

Hypertension

The kidneys play a key role in keeping a person’s blood pressure in a healthy range, and blood pressure, in turn, can affect the health of the kidneys. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, can damage the kidneys and lead to chronic kidney disease (CKD). High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of kidney failure.

What is high blood pressure?

Blood pressure measures the force of blood against the walls of the blood vessels. Extra fluid in the body increases the amount of fluid in blood vessels and makes blood pressure higher. Narrow, stiff, or clogged blood vessels also raise blood pressure.

How does high blood pressure hurt the kidneys?

High blood pressure makes the heart work harder and, over time, can damage blood vessels throughout the body. If the blood vessels in the kidneys are damaged, they may stop removing wastes and extra fluid from the body. The extra fluid in the blood vessels may then raise blood pressure even more. It’s a dangerous cycle.

What are the signs and symptoms of high blood pressure?

Many children have no symptoms of high blood pressure, although some children with high blood pressure may have signs and symptoms such as:

  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty sleeping

In severe cases, your child might have signs and symptoms such as blurred vision, shortness of breath or confusion.

High blood pressure in children is defined as having a blood pressure that is the same as or higher than 90 percent of children who are the same sex, age and height as your child. Since what’s considered normal blood pressure for children changes as they grow, there isn’t a target blood pressure reading like there is for adults.

Because what’s considered normal blood pressure for children changes as they grow, high blood pressure in children often goes undiagnosed. High blood pressure in children younger than 10 years old is usually the result of some other medical condition (secondary hypertension). Some children develop high blood pressure for the same reasons adults do — being overweight, eating a poor diet, and not getting enough exercise.