Hypertension, more commonly known as high blood pressure, occurs when the blood forces or pushes against the blood vessels instead of flowing normally. This can cause damage to the vessels, the heart, the kidneys and other organs. Your child has high blood pressure if their blood pressure is equal to or above 95% of children who are the same sex, age and height. In children, there is no optimum value for blood pressure as what may be considered a norm as it changes as children grow. Hypertension in children below the age of ten is often indication of some other medical disorder such as co-arctation of aorta (narrowing in great vessel of heart), kidney disease, genetic disorder or hormonal changes. Other causes include obesity, improper diet consumption and lack of exercise.

Hypertension is becoming increasingly common in children and adolescents due to their sedentary lifestyle. There are two types of hypertension:

  • Primary hypertension:  which is caused without any underlying medical disorder

  • Secondary hypertension:  which is caused due to a known underlying medical disorder such as kidney diseases, blood vessel abnormalities, endocrinological disorder and heart disease?

Most often, hypertension in children does not cause any symptoms. If symptoms do appear they may include:

  • Headaches

  • Loss of vision

  • Chest pain

  • Abdominal pain

  • Difficulty in breathing​

You can get your child’s blood pressure measured during routine check-up after the age of three years, and at every appointment after that if they have hypertension. In infants, certain cases such as premature birth, low birth weight, congenital heart disease and certain kidney problems require regular blood pressure checks. For a consultation with an expert, visit our Children's Hospital Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital which is the only internationally accredited hospital in Pakistan, where the doctors can help dispel your queries about hypertension in children and provide quality treatment if necessary.   
Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started. ​

Blood pressure can be easily tested with a simple, painless procedure using an inflatable arm cuff and a pressure-measuring device. Your child will not be diagnosed with hypertension after one reading. If the blood pressure is high for three consecutive visits to the doctor, your child may suffer from hypertension. For accuracy, your child’s blood pressure may be measured several times during a single visit. You would be required to get regular measurements of your child’s blood pressure as per the doctor’s directive or every six months. To determine if the hypertension is caused by an underlying medical disorder, your child may be subjected to the following tests:

  • Blood test to measure the blood sugar, kidney function and blood cell counts

  • Urinalysis in which you may be asked to collect your child’s urine samples over the period of twenty-four hours for an accurate result

  • Echocardiogram in which sound waves are used to produce images of the heart. The doctor studies the images to see if the heart chambers are enlarged, if there is any abnormality in the blood flow and to identify any other heart defects

  • Ultrasound of your child’s kidney, in which sound waves and a sensor is used to create an image on the computer to be studied by the doctor. Sound waves are sent by a handheld device that is moved across the abdomen ​

Hypertension in children can be treated with simple lifestyle changes such as consuming a healthy diet and exercising regularly, provided the blood pressure is moderately high. You would play an important role in keeping your child’s routine in check and making sure they follow the guidelines provided by the doctor.

Medications are generally prescribed if lifestyle changes fail to make an impact or your child suffers from increased hypertension. These medications help in:

  • Assisting your child’s kidneys in eliminating sodium and water, thus reducing blood pressure

  • Decreasing the load on your child’s heart, encouraging it to beat slowly and with less force

  • Relaxing your child’s blood vessels by blocking the formation of a natural chemical that narrows the blood vessels, thus reducing blood pressure

  • Assisting in relaxing the muscles of your child’s blood vessels and may slow their heart rate

The course of medication will depend on the length of the disease. Hypertension can be controlled by reducing weight if it is caused by obesity or by treating other underlying medical disorders that have hypertension as a symptom.  ​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.