Dr Ogochukwu Ofiaeli, Consultant Pediatrician (Adolescent Health/Pediatric Rheumatology) at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi (NAUTH), said that Hypertension is a medical condition where the pressure in blood vessels is persistently and abnormally elevated.
Ofiaeli said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Nnewi, Nnewi North Local Government Area of the state.
She spoke in celebration of world hypertension day 2021 with the theme “Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer”.
She said that hypertension occurs with increased frequency in children of today and assured it could be controlled in children if parents abide by medical directives.
Ofiaeli said to diagnose the aliment in children, there are scales used to define and categorise hypertension in childhood. Which are usually dependent on the child’s stature.
“A Pediatrician is best suited to diagnose and manage hypertension in children,” she said.
According to her, to measure blood pressure in children, one needs the appropriate sized cuff as using adult cuffs for children would give a false reading.
She said if a normal blood pressure for an adult or even elevated for an adult is seen in a child of smaller stature compared to that adult, that raises a red flag for further evaluation of the child.
Ofiaeli said that an incidental finding of elevation in blood pressure is usually all that is needed for further evaluation for underlying causes.
She explained that underlying pathology in hypertension mechanisms for hypertension differs most times between adults and children. Children mostly have secondary hypertension due to an underlying illness such as Kidney disease and Cardiac problems.
Ofiaeli also said that Thyroid disease Autoimmune illness Drug and substance abuse, especially by Adolescents, and obese people, are major causes of hypertension.
She said that adults on the other hand have a greater proportion of primary hypertension with no known underlying cause or age associated with it.
She described hypertension as an illness that is basically asymptomatic, indicating that symptoms usually connote a complication which also applies to children.
Ofiaeli said that symptoms associated with hypertension in childhood are mainly those of the underlying illness.
According to her, when symptoms occur it may result from complications of presence of Frequent/persistent headache, Chest pain and Blurred visions.
“Even convulsions are a red flag and needs evaluation by a Pediatrician.
She advised parents to always go for tests and seek treatment after investigation on their children’s health, and ultimately get treatment for the child which must be done by a Pediatrician.
Ofialei said that the child diagnosed of hypertension will ultimately be sent to the Pediatric subspecialty handling the underlying cause of the hypertension.
“For Hypertension, a multidisciplinary care is usually undertaken in child care but as a general rule let kids be as healthy as possible,” she said.
She said that parents should avoid over the counter treatment and should consult a Pediatrician whenever the child is ill.
She advised that junk and processed foods should be reduced, intake of salt, fats and oil in food should be in moderation and the child needs to take adequate water daily while Parents and care givers should ensure good care.
She said that there are no limit to the amount of liquid for each child as quantity of liquid is needed for wellness increases as the child grows.
Ofiaeli said that parents should go to Pediatricians as often as the need arises and urged them to come to hospital on routine checks to maintain healthy growth in children.
She said for the safety of a child, all urinary tract infections must be treated well and urged parents not to discharge the child from medical care until the doctor says so.
“Allow kids to be active and playful, Antihypertensives and other medications to control symptoms and any resultant complication will also be taken,” she said
Ofaeli said that hypertension is curable as the underlying cause of hypertension in childhood could be controlled and result in complete resolution of the blood pressure as it requires life long care
“In all, a hypertensive child may need life long follow up, depending on the cause of the elevated blood pressure. If poorly managed, could result in Kidney disease and Cardiac disease.
She said that hypertension in childhood needs prompt and specialist care, behavioral life style changes may be needed in addition to controlling the blood pressure.
“NAUTH Nnewi has a Department of Pediatrics with Paediatric Nephrology clinic that runs every Thursday and Paediatric Cardiology unit that runs every Friday.
Also, adolescent Health clinic also runs on Thursday, among other outpatient clinics that run from Monday to Friday all start in the morning as well as a 24-hour emergency and in patient care available.
She said that Parents and care givers can always visit these clinics for clarification of their concerns on their children and wards.
Supreme reports that world hypertension day is observed every year to raise awareness about the silent killer. It was first inaugurated in May 2005 and ever since has become an annual event.