High blood pressure (BP) or hypertension is a well known risk factor for developing heart attack, stroke, atrial fibrillation and renal failure. Although in the past hypertension was supposed to develop at middle age, it is now widely recognized that it begins early during childhood. As such, approximately 5-10% of children and adolescents are hypertensive. Unlike that previously reported, it is now widely accepted that primary hypertension is the most diffuse form of high BP encountered even in paediatric age, while secondary hypertension accounts just for a minority of the cases. There are significant differences between that outlined by the European Society of Hypertension (ESH), the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), and the last statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) concerning the BP cut-offs to identify young hypertensive individuals. Not only that, but the AAP have also excluded obese children in the new normative data. This is undoubtedly a matter of concern. Conversely, both the AAP and ESH/ESC agree that medical therapy should be reserved just for nonresponders to measures like weight loss/salt intake reduction/increase in aerobic exercise. Secondary hypertension often occurs in aortic coarctation or chronic renal disease patients. The former can develop hypertension despite early effective repair. This is associated with significant morbidity and is arguably the most important adverse outcome in about 30% of these subjects. Also, syndromic patients, for example those with Williams syndrome, may suffer from a generalized aortopathy, which triggers increased arterial stiffness and hypertension. This review summarizes the state-of-the-art situation regarding primary and secondary paediatric hypertension.
Copyright © 2022 Italian Federation of Cardiology – I.F.C. All rights reserved.