As part of the screening, conducted ahead of the World Hypertension Day observed on May 17, the blood pressure levels of 980 school-going children between 5 and 18 years of age were checked. “While hypertension is a common phenomenon among adults, identifying seven children (out of 980) came a surprise to us,” said Dr Satish Ghanta, director, neonatal and paediatric intensive care services, Little Stars, and CEO of NGO. He attributed this crisis largely to obesity.
Of the total students screened, 50% were found to be either overweight or obese. While 31% of the kids, data showed, were overweight (BMI between 25 and 30) 18.6% children figured on obese list (BMI above 30).
“Since hypertension has no symptoms, not many people realise its occurrence. In the cases that we identified, the parents had no clue about their children being hypertensive,” Dr Ghanta said, elaborating on minimal physical activity, excessive usage of gadgets, unrestrained intake of junk food and aerated drinks, as being predominant reasons for this.
To arrest the trend, doctors suggested that children must be regularly screened to rule out health issues. “Among children, renal and cardiovascular issues are common due to hypertension. It is, therefore, suggested that an annual check up is done to rule out concerns,” said Dr Ramakrishna, paediatrician at Care Hospital, Banjara Hills, adding that family history has little role to play in hypertension.
Highlighting the other ills of obesity paediatricians say how it can even pave the way for diabetes, non-communicable diseases, cardiovascular and neurological diseases among children, apart from raising fears about chronic kidney disease and primary hypertension, in few cases. They add that kids suffering from hypertension are also at a high risk of facing accelerated vascular ageing.