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Children's mental performance is affected by high blood pressure
Not only do far too many adults have high blood pressure levels, some adolescents also suffer from hypertension. Scientists have now found that hypertension in children and adolescents apparently affects mental performance.
Hypertension as a risk factor for fatal diseases
About 20 to 30 million people in Germany suffer from high blood pressure. Although hypertension is one of the most common causes of a stroke or heart attack, this risk factor is far too often underestimated. Too high blood pressure can apparently affect mental performance - even in children and adolescents.
Three to four percent of children have high blood pressure
High blood pressure not only affects adults, but can also occur in children, reports the professional association of pediatricians (BVKJ) on its website "kinderaerzte-im-netz.de". Studies have shown that around three to four percent of children and adolescents between the ages of eight and 17 have high blood pressure.
A recent study, involving scientists from the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, concludes that hypertension in children can also reduce mental performance somewhat. The researchers published their results in the journal "Journal of Pediatrics".
Mental performance is impaired
Blood pressure is calculated differently in adolescents than in adults, but even children who are overweight have high blood pressure, as US researchers recently reported. Other risk factors such as lack of exercise or family history increase the risk of hypertension.
Earlier research at the University of Rochester's Medical Center in New York showed that high blood pressure in adults can disrupt intellectual ability. And according to studies by other scientists, fluctuations in blood pressure also jeopardize mental performance.
Little research so far
However, little has been done on the effects of high blood pressure on children's intellectual ability.
For the current study, the experts evaluated the test results of 150 children aged 10 to 18 years. Half of the participants were currently diagnosed with hypertension, while the other 75 children had normal blood pressure.
The researchers excluded children with certain problems, such as ADHD, learning difficulties, or sleep disorders, from the study to ensure that poorer cognitive performance was not based on or influenced by other causes.
"We wanted to make sure that when we see differences in children with and without high blood pressure, they are related to high blood pressure and not other factors," said co-author Dr. Land to Medical News Today (MNT).
Poor cognitive performance noted
In tests that required visual skills that required visual and verbal memory and tested mental speed, children with high blood pressure showed worse results than those with normal blood pressure.
It was also found that high blood pressure was more common in children with sleep disorders. Previous research has shown that lack of sleep can affect cognitive skills.
According to the scientists, however, the findings are "no cause for concern". The differences in cognitive skills were small and the test results of both groups were within the normal range. However, as with adults, if high blood pressure is found in children, it should be treated to reduce health risks. (ad)