The number of young people sent to the hospital for high blood pressure rose steeply during a recent 10-year period, according to a new study published online in the journal Hypertension.
Hospital stays for Americans ages 18 and under due to high blood pressure nearly doubled from 12,661 in 1997 to 24,602 in 2006. The study shows that high blood pressure in young people comes with a high cost for the nation today and is setting the stage for serious health problems in the future, experts tell WebMD.
A Costly Problem Linked to Obesity
A central discovery in the study goes beyond the obvious health cost to the children and highlights the actual cost of treating high blood pressure in young people, says researcher Cheryl Tran, MD, of the University of Michigan. During this time period, these hospital stays cost $3.1 billion. The average charges for treating these young people in the hospital rose by 50%.
One of the key reasons given by researchers for this trend: obesity. According to the CDC, roughly 17% of kids and teens are now obese. Their numbers have grown steeply in recent decades. Children who are obese are more likely to have high blood pressure, according to the CDC.