April 19 (UPI) -- After a revision of older guidelines, more children have high blood pressure, putting them at higher risk for developing heart disease when they reach adulthood -- though experts say that could help them prevent development of the condition.
About 11 percent of kids have high blood pressure compared to only 7 percent using the 2004 guidelines set by the organization, according to new guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Those findings were published in the Bogalusa Heart Study.
"After reviewing years of information from the Bogalusa Heart Study, we concluded that compared with children with normal blood pressure, those reclassified as having elevated or high blood pressure were more likely to develop adult high blood pressure, thickening of the heart muscle wall and the metabolic syndrome -- all risk factors for heart disease," Lydia Bazzano, a researcher at Tulane University and study senior author, said in news release.
In a follow-up, 19 percent of kids considered to have high blood pressure under the new guidelines went on to have thickened heart muscles.
About 1.3 million people between ages 12 and 19 have high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The good news, the researchers say, is that children can manage their high blood pressure with exercise, better diet and other lifestyle changes.
"For most children with high blood pressure that is not caused by a separate medical condition or a medication, lifestyle changes are the cornerstone of treatment," Bazzano said. "It's important to maintain a normal weight, avoid excess salt, get regular physical activity and eat a healthy diet that is high in fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, lean protein and limited in salt, added sugars, saturated -- trans -- fats to reduce blood pressure."