Doctors often fail to detect high blood pressure in kids with chronic kidney disease, thereby increasing a child's risk for serious heart problems, reveals a new study.
During the study, researchers recruited 198 children and compared blood pressure measurements obtained during regular doctor visits to readings obtained via a special device the children wore at home that automatically recorded their blood pressure every 20 minutes.
They found that nearly 40 percent had 'masked' hypertension, meaning their blood pressure was normal at the doctor's office, but spiked outside of it.
And children with masked hypertension were four times more likely to have a form of hypertension-related heart damage called left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) than children with normal blood pressure.
LVH is a common consequence of untreated hypertension that results in a thickening of the left chamber of the heart and that over time can lead to heart failure and heart rhythm disturbances.
"Taking blood pressure at the doctor's office clearly misses many cases of masked hypertension," said Dr Susan Furth, a pediatric nephrologist at Hopkins Children' and one of the study's principal investigators.
The expert added: "This means children with chronic kidney disease should have their blood pressure taken at home several times a day and regularly reported to their doctors."
An overnight monitor, like the one used in the study, that automatically takes a child's blood pressure every 20 minutes is great.
"Our findings are a sobering reminder of something we have long known: Blood pressure changes constantly throughout the day," added study lead author Mark Mitsnefes, M.D., M.S., from the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension at Cincinnati Children's.
The researcher added: "We really can't rely on a single measurement as a valid indicator."
Investigators recommend that all children with chronic kidney disease get regular at-home readings of their blood pressure in addition to those taken during their visits to the doctor.
The findings appear online in the Journal of American Society of Nephrology.