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Curr Hypertens Rep. 2013 Oct;15(5):444-52. doi: 10.1007/s11906-013-0378-8.

Primary hypertension in childhood.

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  • 1Pediatric Nephrology, University Children's Hospital, Inselspital and University of Bern, 3010, Bern, Switzerland.


There is growing concern about elevated blood pressure in children and adolescents, because of its association with the obesity epidemic. Moreover, cardiovascular function and blood pressure level are determined in childhood and track into adulthood. Primary hypertension in childhood is defined by persistent blood pressure values ≥ the 95th percentile and without a secondary cause. Preventable risk factors for elevated blood pressure in childhood are overweight, dietary habits, salt intake, sedentary lifestyle, poor sleep quality and passive smoking, whereas non-preventable risk factors include race, gender, genetic background, low birth weight, prematurity, and socioeconomic inequalities. Several different pathways are implicated in the development of primary hypertension, including obesity, insulin resistance, activation of the sympathetic nervous system, alterations in sodium homeostasis, renin-angiotensin system and altered vascular function. Prevention of adult cardiovascular disease should begin in childhood by regularly screening for high blood pressure, counseling for healthy lifestyle and avoiding preventable risk factors.

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