A paediatrician has developed a new and improved mechanism to diagnose juvenile high blood pressure.
In an earlier study, Dr. David Kaelber, MetroHealth System paediatrician revealed that almost 75 percent of cases of hypertension and 90 percent of cases of prehypertension in children and adolescents go undiagnosed.
Kaelber and his research team felt that one of the main reasons for the under-diagnosis may be due to the complex chart currently used to help physicians and medical personnel identify high blood pressure in children.
Thus, they have now simplified the chart - focusing solely on a child's age and gender - eliminating the need for a height percentile and reducing the number of values in the blood pressure table from 476 to just 64.
For re-designing the chart, the researchers reduced the systolic and diastolic blood pressure cut-off values to one value for girls and one value for boys for each year of life from ages 3 to 18 plus.
They used the lower limit of height (5th percentile) in the abnormal blood pressure range for a given gender and age.
However, they noted that the above limit might incorrectly identify some taller children as being in the abnormal blood pressure range.
But they predicted that this number would be small compared to the number of children with prehypertension and hypertension who are identified.
Any reading at or above the listed numbers in the chart will indicate a child who needs further evaluation by a physician.
"We know that children with high blood pressure often become adults with heart disease and other serious medical conditions. Anything that helps health care providers in identifying this life-threatening condition early is essential.
The long-term solution will no doubt involve electronic medical records and other electronic tools, but until that is available in all healthcare settings, this simplified table should be a helpful screening tool," said Kaelber.
The revised chart and accompanying description are published in the June issue of the journal Pediatrics.