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Did You Know?
According to the American Heart Association, hypertension can lead to life-threatening situations like heart attack, stroke, paralysis, brain damage, and kidney failure that's responsible for about 350,000 preventable deaths a year in the United States.

The force exerted by blood on the walls of the blood vessels is known as blood pressure (BP). The pressure measured when the heart contracts and pumps the blood into the vessels is called systolic blood pressure, and the pressure measured when the heart relaxes and fills up with blood is called diastolic blood pressure.

The unit of BP is millimeters of mercury (mmHg). The normal blood pressure range for adults is 120-80 mmHg (systolic should be below 120, while diastolic should be below 80). The ideal blood pressure for men and women (even for women over 40 and for women over 50) can be slightly different. It is a scaring fact that more and more children are diagnosed with high blood pressure every year.

Hypertension and Hypotension

BP higher than the normal levels is referred to as high BP (HBP) or hypertension. It causes extra strain on the heart and arteries. It indicates that more force is required by the heart to pump certain quantity of blood within certain time. In hypotension, the condition is exactly opposite. The condition wherein lower than normal levels of BP are experienced is termed as hypotension. It usually results in dizziness. Aging results in higher levels of BP. The official blood pressure percentile charts, prepared using height, weight, and Body Mass Index (BMI) data of certain groups of children and adults are available in all clinics.

Prehypertension

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, people are said to have "prehypertension" when their blood pressure levels are slightly higher than normal. The systolic BP can be in between 120 and 139 and the diastolic BP can be between 80 and 89. The person diagnosed with prehypertension is at a higher risk for developing hypertension. But at this stage, simple dietary and lifestyle changes can help lower the blood pressure.

Factors that Affect Blood Pressure

Blood pressure levels keep on changing every minute. They vary according to the age, gender, height, weight, and overall health of the person. They are seriously affected by:
  • Physical or emotional stress
  • Wrong diet
  • Excess intake of common salt
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Excessive intake of alcohol
  • Overconsumption of caffeine
  • Excessive consumption of nicotine
  • Excessive use of birth control pills
  • Genetic disposition
  • Family history
  • Excess weight
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Menopause, when the estrogen (the hormone that helps regulate BP) levels drop down significantly
Chart by Age for Children and Adults

GroupAgeSystolic BPDiastolic BP
Kids3-6 years11676
Kids7-10 years12278
Kids11-13 years12682
Teens14-16 years13686
Optimal Level for Young Adults17-19 yearsless than or equal to 120less than or equal to 85
Adults20-24 years12079
Adults25-29 years12180
Adults30-34 years12281
Adults35-39 years12382
Adults40-44 years12583
Adults45-49 years12784
Adults50-54 years12985
Adults55-59 years13186
Adults60 years and above13487

BP Chart by Gender for Children

AgeMale (mmHg)Female (mmHg)
1 to 380/34 to 120/75 83/38 to 117/76
4 to 688/47 to 128/8488/50 to 122/83
7 to 1092/53 to 130/9093/55 to 129/88

Babies born earlier than usual (before 37 weeks pregnancy) or babies born with heart/kidney problems may exhibit the symptoms of high BP.

Researches show that obesity and excessive consumption of salt are the main contributing factors for elevated blood pressure in children aged 8-17. A family history of hypertension and an unhealthy lifestyle are some of the main risk factors. Excessive consumption of junk food, lack of essential nutrients in diet, stress, insufficient physical activity, higher body mass, and a larger waistline can result in high BP in teenagers.

Normal, High, and Low Blood Pressure

Pressure LevelSystolic (mmHg)Diastolic (mmHg)
Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension)50 - 9035 - 60
Mild Low Blood Pressure90 - 10060 - 70
Normal Blood Pressure100 - 13070 - 85
Mild High Blood Pressure130 - 14085 - 90
Moderately High Blood Pressure140 - 16090 - 110
Severely High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)160 - 230110 - 135

Necessary Changes in Diet and Lifestyle
  • Reduce your salt intake. Studies show that store-bought foods and foods from restaurants are high in salt. It has been observed that the daily salt intake by Americans is almost double than the one that is recommended by the American Heart Association.
  • A healthy diet is essential for an uninterrupted blood flow.
  • Increase your intake of potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
  • Regular exercise helps increase the capacity of the heart.
  • Try to maintain your weight within the range of normal weight for your height.
  • Incorporate fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products in your diet.
  • Lowering the stress helps lower BP.
  • Opting for a less demanding job, or doing things of your own interest help relieve stress.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Avoid excessive intake of alcohol.
  • Avoid excessive intake of medicines and supplements.
Many people don't bother to check whether they have high blood pressure. If the condition is left untreated, it can eventually damage the vital organs like eyes, heart, brain, and kidneys. In case of early diagnosis, prompt treatment and regular monitoring can help a child with elevated blood pressure levels to lead an active and normal life. Routine health checkups help detect the condition at an early stage, and it becomes easier to control it with simple dietary and lifestyle changes.

Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and should not be substituted for the advice of a medical professional.