SSM Health Cardiologist: It’s important to monitor pediatric blood pressure at an early age

MADISON, Wis. —  As young as three years old, that’s how early many pediatric cardiologists are now starting to monitor heart health in children, particularly starting with blood pressure. SSM Health Cardiologist Andrea Rock tells me they aren’t looking for high blood pressure during any one particular visit, but instead, a trend over time.

“It’s not usually a single blood pressure that changes the course for a kid,” said Rock,  “but if you see a pattern as you’re seeing them back over years, it can really tell a story about their cardiovascular development.”

Dr. Rock says artery issues and high blood pressure related conditions often start earlier in life, which is why early detection can be helpful in preventing future problems such as heart disease and stroke. She also says that in older kids, high blood pressure can be linked to other health issues, such as kidney disease.

For Dr. Rock she says there will always be conversation about smoking or vaping, as a history of the two is the biggest risk factor for heart attack and stroke, and encourages explaining the importance of avoiding such things with your kids early.

Our time for kids: recipe for health team is asking what you want to hear about. Let us know what health topics you’re interested in, or share your family’s health story with us, online at ssmhealth.com/timeforkids.