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Kids, Sports and High Blood Pressure?

August 1, 2010       Leave a Comment
By: Stacy Sawyer

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It's that time of year again when parents are taking their young athletes for the yearly sports physical. Most of us think of this as routine maintenance, just something we have to do to make sure our kids can play football or track in the upcoming school year. But this is an opportune time to talk with your physician about blood pressure. Though we often don't think about kids having hypertension, or high blood pressure (HBP), it is more common in youth than most of us realize.


There are a few things that can lead to HBP in children. These can include disease such as heart and kidney disease, some medications, family history, excess weight or obesity, and race, in particular African-Americans who are at a higher risk.

Competitive sports are normally acceptable for a child with mild elevated blood pressure to participate in. However, if your child has a serious case of high blood pressure, or stage 2 hypertension, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that there be restrictions pertaining to certain sporting activities. For instance, avoid sports likely to cause sharp temporary spikes in blood pressure; those include weightlifting, gymnastics, martial arts, wrestling, cycling, snowboarding and field events that involve throwing.

If you have a child with high blood pressure, work with your child's physician to manage the problem. Encourage your child to lower his or her blood pressure and have their numbers checked every six months. Eat a heart healthy diet, exercise, and manage weight and avoid tobacco are all ways in which the American Heart Association recommends to manage blood pressure. Also be aware that kids with pre-hypertension or hypertension should not "bulk up" for any sport as extra weight creates an even larger negative impact on blood pressure and overall heart health.

Playing sports and being active helps fight heart disease and so much more. If you, your child, and physician all work together your child can have a heart-healthy year and maybe even set some records.

For more information visit us at heart.org.

Stacy Sawyer
Communications Director -- American Heart Association 989-225-7513 (cell) 517-349-3240 (fax)

I invite your questions and feedback



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Stacy Sawyer

Stacy Sawyer is the Director of Communications for the American Heart Association. She can be reached at (989) 225-7513.

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