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Teens and high blood pressure
Sleep, stress and salt raise the risk. What’s a mom to do?

As more children fall victim to obesity, doctors are noticing an increasing number of youngsters with high blood pressure (hypertension). Catching high blood pressure early is important, as it can lead to heart failure or stroke later in life. If your teen’s blood pressure is higher than 120/80 mm Hg, make sure that a doctor monitors him or her regularly and that your child follows the doctor’s advice, including taking any prescribed medications and changing dietary habits. To lower your child’s chances of developing hypertension, watch out for these five triggers:

  1. Blood pressure booster: Excess weight.
    Lower it:
    Limit high-fat foods and monitor serving sizes. Encourage your child to eat healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products.
  2. Blood pressure booster: Inactivity.
    Lower it:
    Get your child moving. Regular exercise can help regulate blood pressure and can often lower hypertension.
  3. Blood pressure booster: Lack of sleep.
    Lower it:
    Teens need about 9¼ hours a night. A shift in teens’ biological clocks makes it hard for them to fall asleep before 11 p.m. Encouraging them to wind down for 30 to 60 minutes before bed may help.
  4. Blood pressure booster: Salty foods.
    Lower it:
    Cook with less salt, remove the salt shaker from the table and limit salt-laden packaged foods.
  5. Blood pressure booster: Stress.
    Lower it:
    If your teen’s schedule is truly overloaded, suggest that he or she drop out of an activity or two, and explain that asking for help and practicing relaxation techniques can help reduce stress.

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