Kyle Mutschler has suffered from high blood pressure, since he was 5 years old. "I can easily tell.. I feel dizzy, headache, don't feel well..."
The 14-year-old has to watch every bite he eats. "We really try to keep his sodium intake at 1,200 milligrams or less which is an incredibly difficult thing to do on a daily basis," says mother Lynette Mutschler.
New research shows high blood pressure is landing more children in the hospital. The study in the journal Hypertension finds hospitalizations nearly doubled for kids under 18 between 1997 and 2006. Children most at risk were more than 9 years old, boys and African-Americans. "It can cause damage, irreversible damage to the heart, and kidneys and eyes set them up for cardiovascular disease as an adults," says Dr. Rick Kaskel of Montefiore Hospital.
Experts say the rise in childhood obesity may be behind the recent jump in hospital stays for high blood pressure. "Also, there is other unknown factors in the environment. They don't necessarily have to be obese if they are born with a certain genetic component, have been exposed to environmental stressors such as diet, lack of exercise."
Doctors still dont know what causes Kyle's high blood pressure. To stay on top of it, he takes four medications, gets plenty of exercise and uses new technology to monitor his pressure closely. "I'm able to put it on by myself, plug into my iPod and through an app it will take my blood pressure, show me what it is and I can email it to my doctor and to my mom," says Kyle.
He's glad to be more independent and his mom has peace of mind knowing his pressure is in check.
High blood pressure can often go undiagnosed. It's recommended that doctors start measuring a child's blood pressure at age 3.