Teens can develop high blood pressure, too, especially if they inherit genes that make them sensitive to the effects of salt. Among a group of 55 teens, for example, those who were salt-sensitive had a blood pressure that crept up, over a five-year period, until it was an average of 12.7/8.4 mmHg higher than in teens who were not salt sensitive.
How do you know if a teenager has hypertension?
Hypertension is relatively rare in children and teens, but can be associated with some health problems, and affects an estimated 1 to 3 children out of every one hundred. This is complicated by the fact that blood pressure will vary depending on age, and where the teenager fits on the percentile charts for their height and weight.
The only way to know if a teenager has hypertension is to measure their blood pressure and to compare it with normal charts for their age and gender. Blood pressure in children and teens is not measured routinely, unless they are seen in a hospital clinic.
It’s not possible to know whether or not a particular teenager is salt sensitive without invasive medical testing. A family history of high blood pressure may act as a good indicator, however. As blood pressure tends to rise with age, it’s a good idea for everyone to cut back on salt – including teenagers – to help reduce future risks of heart attack, stroke and kidney problems. Most salt in the diet comes from processed food, so aim to eat home-cooked, fresh meals as often as possible, have fruit and unsalted nuts as a snack, rather than packets of crisps/chips, and processed snacks, and check labels to select products that have the lowest salt or sodium content.
Have your teenagers had their blood pressure checked? Do they love salty snacks? Might be worth drawing this post to their attention, if so. Leave a comment below if you found this interesting or helpful.
For more information on the effects of salt on blood pressure, see Why You Should Eat Less Salt.
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