Does your child have high blood pressure?

Dentists may hold the key to diagnosing more kids

CLEVELAND - Do you know your child’s blood pressure?

Dr. David Kaelber, pediatrician and internist at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, reminds parents regularly that more than 1.5 million children in the United States have hypertension, but have not been diagnosed.

After years of research and study, Dr. Kaelber is now calling on dentists to join to effort to identify high blood pressure in children. Children tend to see their dentists more often than their pediatricians.

Hypertension is often asymptomatic in children, just as it can be in adults.

“Long-standing, untreated high blood pressure can lead to serious problems later in life like heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure,” he said.

One of the issues contributing to the failure to identify more children with the problem is the complexity of determining what high blood pressure is in children.

The formula to determine hypertension in children is complex and includes calculating age, gender and height percentile.

Dr. Kaelber, who is also the hospital's Chief Medical Informatics Officer, has put together a simple chart which makes it much easier for medical practitioners to determine whether a child’s blood pressure should be examined further.

Metrohealth’s dental clinic is in the process of implementing the practice now.

The current guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association state that blood pressure should be checked in all children and adolescents older than three years old at the time they are seen in a medical setting.

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