Researchers find high blood pressure levels in West Virginia fifth graders

Nov 18, 2010

A large number of children in West Virginia have high blood pressure

Identifying a potentially harmful condition is part of the battle in treating it. Once symptoms of a chronic health ailment have been identified, people and their caregivers can take appropriate actions to prevent the condition from arising.

High blood pressure, for example, can be a precursor to Type 2 diabetes. The health condition is serious and can ultimately cause one to pay higher life insurance premiums. However, if detected early, high blood pressure can be brought down to normal levels before the onset of any serious medical concerns.

Researchers have been collecting blood pressure data on more than 62,000 fifth graders in West Virginia, according to the American Heart Association. The team found that nearly 20 percent of those tested were in at least the 95th percentile for blood pressure.

Surveillance associate director Valerie Evans Minor notes that while identifying these children as being at risk is helpful, many nurses are already burdened with caring for those who already have serious conditions.

"No other state is doing as comprehensive screening as we are," says Evans Minor. "But with that comprehensive screening comes challenges."

High blood pressure can be lowered through altering one's diet. Foods such as canned soups and processed meats generally have higher sodium levels, which can raise blood pressure levels.

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