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Should Children and Teens Be Screened for High Blood Pressure?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Martha Kubik, Ph.D., R.N. Professor and director of the School of Nursing College of Health and Human Services at George Mason University USPSTF Task Force Member

Dr. Kubik

Martha Kubik, Ph.D., R.N.
Professor and director of the School of Nursing
College of Health and Human Services at George Mason University
USPSTF Task Force Member

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Has the recommendation changed over the last decade?

Response: High blood pressure is becoming more common among children and teens in the United States and can have serious negative health effects in childhood and adulthood, such as kidney and heart disease. However, there is not enough research to know whether treating high blood pressure in young people improves cardiovascular health in adulthood.

The Task Force continued to find that there is not enough evidence to recommend for or against screening for high blood pressure in children and teens who do not have signs or symptoms.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The most important takeaway from this recommendation is that there is not enough evidence to determine whether screening for high blood pressure in children and teens helps detect other health problems, such as kidney and heart disease, or improves long-term health. With that said, we do know that having high blood pressure as a child or adolescent is associated with having high blood pressure as an adult. We are hopeful that more research will position us to make a strong, evidence-based recommendation in the future. In the meantime, we encourage clinicians to use their best judgment and talk with young patients and their families about any concerns they may have about high blood pressure and cardiovascular health. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: The Task Force is calling for more research involving children and teens that looks at how to improve the accuracy of blood pressure measurement, evaluates the long-term effects of blood pressure medications in young people, and assesses the association between high blood pressure in youth and high blood pressure in adulthood. Additionally, the Task Force recommends studying the benefits and harms of screening and treatment for children and teens at increased risk, including youth who are Black and Latino. 

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: It is important to note that this recommendation applies to children and teens who do not have signs or symptoms of high blood pressure. High blood pressure can be a sign of other health conditions and may continue into adulthood. In the absence of evidence, clinicians should continue to use their best judgement about whether to screen children and teens who do not have signs or symptoms for high blood pressure.

Citations:

US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for High Blood Pressure in Children and Adolescents: US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. JAMA. 2020;324(18):1878–1883. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.20122

Verghese P, Matossian D. The US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation on Screening for Blood Pressure in Children: Increasing the Pressure to Get It Right. JAMA. 2020;324(18):1838–1839. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.21711

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Last Modified: Nov 19, 2020 @ 8:24 pm 

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