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Rising obesity rates contribute to childhood high blood pressure

Rising obesity rates contribute to high blood pressure in children / WGXA

MACON, Ga -- Recently, doctors are seeing more children coming into primary care offices with hypertension, according to Registered Nurse Taylor Abernathy.

Abernathy, who works at Navicent Health, said high blood pressure is becoming more common as childhood obesity rates rise.

A couple of things that could contribute to hypertension are family history and lifestyle habits.

"It's becoming more common, I think, with the rise of children that are overweight or obese," Abernathy said. "As we see an increase in that volume we see more hypertension."

He said that if hypertension goes undiagnosed, it could lead to serious issues.

"I'd say a lot of organ damage. I'd say it would start affecting your eyes, your kidneys, your heart can be affected. You can develop kidney disease," Abernathy said.

Abernathy said the best way to combat childhood hypertension is leading an active lifestyle.

"We talk about therapeautic lifestyle changes. We want kids to exercise daily for at least 30 minutes. We want kids to start eating more regular healthy meals," he said.

If doctors don't see a change after following a lifestyle plan, they will look down different avenues for medication or a specialist.

Abernathy said it is important for young people to get regular checkups. He said primary care physicians start screening blood pressure at age three so they can gauge a baseline to see how a patient's blood pressure fluctuates over time.

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