Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Salty snacks, extra pounds send blood pressure soaring in U.S. kids

By Brian Alexander NBC News contributor

Spurred by too much salt and too many extra pounds, blood pressure in America's kids and teens has gone sky-high, creating a young generation at risk for serious health problems, including heart disease, stroke -- and worse.

The percentage of American children and adolescents ages 8 to 17 who have high blood pressure -- a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, organ damage, heart attacks and strokes -- climbed 27 percent over 13 years, according to researchers from Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital and other institutions funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Ethan Borst, 15, was overweight and has had sporadic
high blood pressure.  After attending a camp designed to
help kids lose weight, he is on the right track to health.

The researchers, using two large national surveys, compared blood pressure data of thousands of children from two National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, a government program designed to track health and nutritional status of adults and children in the U.S. During the period 1988 to 1994, 15.8 percent of boys, and 8.2 percent of girls could be classified as having elevated blood pressure. By the next survey period, covering the years 1999-2008, those percentages jumped to 19.2 percent for boys and 12.6 percent for girls.

High blood pressure prevention and management are key strategies of the  Million Hearts Initiative, an effort to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over five years.  Colorado participates in this initiative and you can too. Be one in a million - make your commitment and pledge today.

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