Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hypertension Typically Undiagnosed in Kids

Hypertension Typically Undiagnosed in Kids

Pediatric hypertension may go undiagnosed almost 85% of the time, reports a study in JAMA.

Researchers evaluated data, extracted from electronic medical records, on some 14,000 children and teenagers who had at least three well visits at a large urban health system over a 7-year period.

About 500 children met criteria for hypertension, defined as elevated blood pressure readings during three or more visits. However, true hypertension diagnoses were documented in the EMR for only 16% of these children. Nearly 500 additional children met criteria for prehypertension, of whom 11% were documented as having hypertension or elevated BP.

The authors say that "because normal blood pressure in children is a function of age, sex, and height percentile, clinicians typically cannot remember normal blood pressures for the wide range of children" seen in primary care.

They stress the importance of early diagnosis, noting that "evaluation guidelines and effective treatment" do exist.

JAMA article (Free abstract; full text requires subscription)

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