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Rising Hypertension Among Children: A Growing Health Concern

Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, has become increasingly prevalent among children and young adults. The rise in pediatric hypertension is attributed to various factors including overweight and obesity, heart defects, kidney problems, and poor diet. According to the World Health Organization, around 390 million children and adolescents were found to be overweight in 2022, with 160 million of them struggling with obesity, a key cause of high blood pressure.

"Childhood obesity becomes the root cause of many other diseases, including cardiovascular problems, leading to hypertension at a tender age," said Dr. Praveen Gupta, Chief of Neurology and Principal Director at FMRI Gurugram. "With changes in lifestyle and diet, the risks of hypertension in children can be mitigated. However, certain causes of pediatric hypertension are more complex, including genetic and hormonal disorders. Unfortunately, even if undetected or untreated in childhood, hypertension can raise the long-term risk of serious heart conditions like stroke and heart attack by four times. Pediatric hypertension is a burning health concern and requires the instant attention of parents for the well-being of their children."

Dr. Praveen Gupta, who has a 20-year illustrious medical career and numerous accolades including the AIIMS Gold Medal and the Gem of India, is deeply concerned about children's physical and mental health. He actively promotes healthy routines among children to help prevent fatal diseases like high blood pressure.

Globally, hypertension in children is a significant cause of premature deaths. Rising inactivity, increased screen time, and popularized junk food consumption in children have heavily contributed to this trend. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the situation as children were confined to their homes, leading to reduced physical activity and social interaction, impacting their physical and mental health.

Dr. H K Chopra, Senior Consultant in Clinical Preventive Cardiology and Echocardiography at Moolchand Medcity, highlighted the importance of lifestyle modifications in reducing hypertension risk. "Healthy modifications in lifestyle can decrease the risk of hypertension in children and adults. From an early age, children should be encouraged to engage in regular exercise and adopt healthy eating habits. Consumption of a DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), regular health check-ups, and quality sleep are essential to mitigate the risk of hypertension," he said. Screen time, irregular sleep schedules, lack of consistent exercise, and a high-sodium diet are the main causes of hypertension in children.

Dr. Praveen Gupta also discussed the severe impacts of hypertension in children. "As a neurologist, I am deeply concerned by the rising trend of childhood obesity and its potential long-term consequences, including stroke. Strokes, once thought to affect only adults, are becoming increasingly prevalent in children due to factors like high blood pressure often associated with obesity. Early intervention is crucial. By promoting healthy lifestyles and weight management in children, we can significantly reduce their risk of stroke and other serious neurological complications later in life."

The rising trend of hypertension among children is a pressing health concern that requires immediate attention from parents, healthcare providers, and society at large to ensure the well-being and healthy future of the younger generation.

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