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Hypertension on the rise among Canadian youth

Today is World Hypertension Day
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Melanie St-Martin, a pharmacy assistant at Chelmsford I.D.A., has her blood pressure measured for World Hypertension Day today. Hypertension is the leading cause of death worldwide and affects 7.5 million Canadians, according to the non-profit Hypertension Canada. (Callam Rodya/Sudbury.com)

May 17 is World Hypertension Day, so you might consider getting your blood pressure checked.

While many consider hypertension — otherwise known as high blood pressure — to be a disease of older people, Hypertension Canada recently published new guidelines in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology for Canadian youth diagnosed with hypertension.

And maybe you want to get your child’s blood pressure checked, too.

The 2017 Guidelines for the Diagnosis, Assessment, Prevention, and Treatment of Pediatric Hypertension are the first of their kind to be implemented in Canada. 

"Unfortunately, one in 50 children under the age of 18 now have high blood pressure and we can't ignore the issue because the numbers are increasing," said Nadia Khan, president of Hypertension Canada. "Our goal is to ensure all health care professionals are attuned to the increasing prevalence of hypertension in children, and aware that these guidelines can help them to better identify, treat or refer appropriately their young patients." 

Hypertension in Canadian children is associated with childhood obesity and lifestyle factors, including sedentary activity patterns in youth, the group said in a release. Hypertension in very young children can also be the first clue to other chronic conditions, so Hypertension Canada recommends that all children over the age of 3 have their blood pressure assessed regularly.  

The new evidence-based guidelines for the prevention and treatment of hypertension in children include 10 guidelines specifically addressing health behaviour management, indications for drug therapy in children with hypertension, choice of therapy for children with primary hypertension, and goals of therapy for children with hypertension.  

The recommendations aim to guide primary care practitioners and pediatricians in identifying, investigating, and managing hypertension in children and adolescents and also provide recommendations on when referral to experts in pediatric hypertension is appropriate, Hypertension Canada said in the release.

High blood pressure is one of the main risk factors for heart, stroke, kidney and blood vessel diseases, and affects Canadians of all ages.  In fact, almost 1 million Canadians are not aware that they have hypertension and many are working-aged men and women.  

To mark World Hypertension Day today, Hypertension Canada is asking What's Your Number? and encouraging Canadians of all ages to take the time to get an accurate blood pressure measurement by visiting their health care professionals or one of the participating pharmacies across Canada.