There might be dangerous chemicals in your tap water — here’s how to stay safe

Remember the movie “Erin Brockovich”? Of course, you do.

But unless you’ve rewatched it recently, you may not remember that Brockovich—in real life, and in the movie—was fighting a company suspected of polluting a small California town’s drinking water with a cancer-causing contaminant called chromium-6 (aka, hexavalent chromium).

Fast-forward 20 years, and it may shock you to learn that chromium-6 is still a threat to 218 million Americans, including residents of every state. That’s just one of the many findings of a just-released Environmental Working Group (EWG) report on the state of our nation’s drinking water.

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“We’ve known about chromium-6 since Erin Brockovich, but it’s still a pervasive problem, and there’s no federal legal standard for it,” says Nneka Leiba, MPH, the director of Healthy Living Science at the EWG.

Unfortunately, chromium-6 isn’t the only dangerous chemical of concern. After examining data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and almost 50,000 public water systems across the nation, the EWG found 267 different contaminants in our nation’s water supply—more than half of which have no established legal limit.

How could this be, you ask? “The Environmental Protection Agency hasn’t put a new contaminant on its regulated list since 1996, which is when the Clean Water Act was passed. We’ve learned so much more about chemicals since then, but we still haven’t made any improvements in our policies,” Leiba explains.

Arsenic, lead, the agricultural herbicide Atrazine, perchlorate, and perfluorinated chemicals are just a handful of the hundreds of contaminants the EWG found to be widespread in public tap water systems. Many of these chemicals have been shown to be carcinogenic, impair thyroid function, and cause harm to fetal growth and development.

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When asked for a response, an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spokesperson was quick to point out that “more than 90 percent of the country’s drinking water systems meet all of EPA’s health-based drinking water standards” and that the EPA has “set drinking water standards for more than 90 contaminants, including microorganisms, disinfectants, disinfection byproducts, inorganic and organic chemicals, and radionuclides.”

How you can protect yourself

Start by plugging your zip code into the EWG’s database to learn what contaminants are in your local tap water.

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Next, check out the EWG water filter guide and buy one, stat. You can input contaminants of concern and find filters that are third-party certified by NSF International, a product testing, inspection, and certification organization.

“In most cases, activated carbon water filters will reduce many or all contaminants,” Leiba says, referring to the pitcher-style water filters many of us already use. “Having one is especially important if there’s a vulnerable population in your house—someone who is pregnant or sick, or a baby,” Leiba says. (One EWG-approved filter to try: Brita Chrome 8-Cup Water Filter Pitcher, $40, amazon.com)

Put your water filter to good use with this de-bloating sassy water recipe:

One thing you shouldn’t do: turn to bottled water.

“In many cases, bottled water is just filtered tap water, so it’s the same thing you’d get using a filter,” Leiba says. “But bottled water is much more expensive, and it can also expose you to contaminants leaching into your water from the plastic bottle itself.”

Protecting future generations

Leiba says we all need to “raise our voices” and let elected officials know we need greater source-water protections and infrastructure upgrades (contact information for local government officials can be found on USA.gov.) “Our water utilities are constantly dealing with the influx of contaminants, but the onus isn’t only on the utility,” she says. “They’re usually within federal safety limits, but being within federal limits does not mean our water is safe. In many cases, we’ve done the science and the testing, and we know that these contaminants are unsafe, but there’s been no action taken.”

This Woman Hit the Beach with Loose Skin After Losing 350 Pounds. Here’s Her Message to the Haters

Blogger Jacqueline Adan used to weigh 500 pounds. She avoided bathing suits at all costs and wouldn’t dream of wearing one in public without a cover-up. So when she dropped 350 pounds by exercising and eating clean, she finally felt ready to step into a swimsuit again.

The only problem? Obnoxious onlookers who snickered at her loose skin, a common side effect of dramatic weight loss.

“I was nervous to take my cover up off and to walk into the pool or walk on the beach,” Adan wrote in the caption of a photo she posted on Instagram this week. In the picture, she’s wearing nothing but a wetsuit and a big smile while vacationing in Mexico. Even after undergoing skin removal surgeries, Adan still has excess skin on her body.

In the photo, Adan looks elated. But “I still felt like that same 500 pound girl,” she continued in her post. “Then it happened. A couple sitting by the pool started laughing and pointing at me and making fun of me as soon as I took my cover up off.”

The body positive icon, who has 47K Instagram followers, could have let their obnoxious reaction ruin her day. Instead, she took a deep breath, smiled, and made her way into the pool.

“That was a huge moment for me,” she wrote. “I had changed. I was not the same girl anymore.” While she confessed that the teasing bothered her, the experience showed her how far she’d come not only physically but also emotionally.

“I am not going to let what other people think of me stop me from living my life,” she vowed in her post. “They do not know me. They do not know how I have worked my ass off to lose 350 pounds. They do not know how I am recovering from major surgeries. They have no right to sit and point and laugh at me.”

So Adan unapologetically rocked her wetsuit and went on enjoying her vacation. “What matters is how you react to it,” she said. “How you feel about yourself. Loving yourself just the way you are is hard. Others might not like that. That’s ok. I hope you love yourself. Love your body. I hope you keep doing you and just keep smiling!”

This Rare but Deadly Complication of Liposuction Almost Killed a Woman. Here’s What Doctors Want You to Know

Liposuction is big business: A recent study found that it was 2016’s second most popular type of plastic surgery in the United States (after breast augmentation), with an average cost per procedure of $3,200. Overall, about 235,000 fat-sucking operations were performed last year.

And while the procedure is generally safe, a new article in BMJ Case Reports highlights a complication that nearly cost one 45-year-old woman her life. The paper details doctors’ experience diagnosing and treating a patient who developed a rare but serious condition called fat embolization syndrome shortly after a routine nip and tuck.

Fat embolization occurs when globules of fat break free from surrounding tissue and travel through the body, becoming lodged in blood vessels or the lungs and blocking the flow of blood or oxygen. It’s common after bone fractures or major trauma, but it has also been documented—at least two other times in medical literature—after liposuction.

Unfortunately, the doctors wrote in their report, the condition is “notoriously difficult to diagnose,” and many plastic surgeons don’t know that they should be on the lookout for symptoms.

In their paper, the doctors recall the case of an obese British woman who had undergone lower leg and knee liposuction two days earlier at a local hospital. “The surgery had been planned to remove some of the bulk of her lower legs to help her mobilize and subsequently begin the weight loss process,” they wrote.

The procedure itself was uneventful, and about 10 liters of fat were removed from the woman’s lower body. About 36 hours after the operation, however, the woman became drowsy and confused, and doctors noticed her heart rate was unusually high.

The woman’s condition worsened, and she was transferred to the intensive care unit, where doctors determined she had dangerously low oxygen levels in her body. After further tests, doctors realized that her symptoms were caused by fat embolization.

Once a diagnosis was made, the woman was treated with oxygen and drugs to help restore her oxygen levels, heart rate, and breathing to normal. She recovered fully and was released from the hospital after two weeks. But if not for her doctors’ quick thinking, things could have been much worse.

Fat embolization is not only hard to recognize, say the report’s authors, but there is no standardized set of criteria to help physicians make an official diagnosis. Although liposuction is not usually considered a high-risk procedure, people who are morbidly obese, who have fluid retention, or who have large volumes of fat removed are more likely to suffer from complications, they say.

Anyone considering liposuction or any other type of cosmetic surgery should talk with their doctor about the potential benefits and risks; it’s also important to interview surgeons carefully and choose one who’s certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Make sure he or she operates in an accredited hospital or medical facility. Don’t fall for non-licensed “pros” who tout cosmetic surgery on social media.

If you do choose to go under the knife, following your surgeon’s post-op instructions can help reduce your risk of dangerous complications. But as with any medical procedure, always speak up if something doesn’t feel right.

John McCain Had a Craniotomy to Remove a Blood Clot. Here’s What That Means

Senator John McCain is recovering from minimally invasive surgery performed Friday “to remove a blood clot from above his left eye,” according to a statement from his office. His absence from the Senate has caused Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to delay a vote on Republicans’ proposed health care bill.

During the procedure, called a craniotomy, surgeons successfully removed a 5-centimeter clot through an eyebrow incision. McCain is resting comfortably and is in good sprits, the statement adds, and will spend the week at home in Arizona.

Some doctors familiar with blood clots and craniotomies—but not involved in McCain’s case—say that this type of operation could indicate a more serious condition. Two neurosurgeons TIME spoke with say that the senator’s prognosis—and how quickly he can get back to the Senate voting chamber—will likely depend on the clot’s underlying cause.

A blood clot described as “above the eye” could either be in the brain or just outside it, says Dr. Joseph Serrone, assistant professor of neurological surgery at Loyola University Health System. Such a clot could be caused by a number of things, including a bump on the head or a minor stroke that might otherwise go unnoticed.

The risk for bleeding in or around the brain is higher for people who take aspirin or blood thinners, says Serrone. “These decrease the body’s ability to clot properly, and so if there’s a small trauma or even a spontaneous hemorrhage, blood can build up and that can be very serious.” (It is not known whether McCain takes any of these medicines.)

A clot can also indicate a tumor, says Dr. Steven Kalkanis, chairman of the department of neurosurgery at Henry Ford Health System. Because McCain has a history of melanoma—including a surgery in 2000 to remove a tumor on his left temple—the clot will likely be examined closely “to see whether it’s only blood, or if there are tumor cells in there that could represent a recurrence.”

The statement from McCain’s office notes that tissue pathology reports are expected “within the next several days” and that further care will then be discussed between the senator’s doctors and family.

McCain’s previous melanoma diagnoses could have been what prompted doctors to discover the new clot. While the senator’s statement says Friday’s procedure was performed “after a routine physical,” this type of abnormality is usually diagnosed via a CT scan or other type of brain imaging—not something that would normally be part of a check-up.

“It’s possible his doctors were being very diligent about the possibility of melanoma spreading and he was getting regular scans because of that,” says Kalkanis. “Otherwise he would have to say something like, ‘I’m having trouble seeing’ or ‘I’m having trouble with my speech’ that would prompt a doctor to include a CT scan or MRI.”

As for the surgery itself, craniotomies performed in a minimally invasive way—through a tiny incision around the eyelid or eyebrow—are generally well tolerated and heal quickly. “I think they said he’d be back next week, and I would expect that to be the case,” Kalkanis says. “It sounds like things went smoothly, so I wouldn’t expect him to have any neurological issues.”

Kalkanis also says people should not jump to conclusions that McCain’s clot is related to cancer or anything that could cause lasting problems. “He’s an 80-year-old man; he could have had a small stroke or had some small trauma,” he says. “It doesn’t mean his health is in jeopardy.”

Still, Serrone says that bleeding in the skull is actually “a very serious condition and a very serious public health issue,” especially for older people. “The brain is held in this rigid skull,” he says, “and if you put something in there that does not belong, it’s going to put pressure on the brain that can cause significant damage and affect your motor power, language ability, and so forth.”

Although the cause of McCain’s blood clot is still unknown, his diagnosis can be a reminder for people to pay attention to their own neurological health, Serrone says. “If you bump your head and have any kind of strange symptoms afterward, that’s something that should be examined by a doctor—especially for patients who are on blood thinners,” he says.

Here’s How to Take a Perfect Vacation

Taking time off from work or the daily grind not only helps people de-stress and feel happier, but it also helps productivity and mood—as long as you do it right.

But the barrier to entry is high, since many Americans don’t even take their allotted vacation time. Fewer Americans are going on vacation now than in the past: Data suggests that Americans used to take nearly three weeks of vacation a year in 2000, but took just slightly more than two weeks in 2015. Even when people are on vacation, more than 60% say they keep working remotely.

Yet the benefits of vacation are clear. “We know that taking a break is extremely good for one’s mental health,” says Susan Krauss Whitbourne, an adjunct professor of gerontology at the University of Massachusetts Boston, who frequently writes about the benefits of vacation. “It puts you in a different frame of mind, gets you out of your standard patterns and can give you time with family.”

It also helps busy people hit refresh, in a sense. In one survey of 414 travelers, 94% said they had as much or more energy after coming back after a good trip, and 55% who had a low-stress trip returned to work with even higher levels of energy than before.. “It’s good to just get out of the day to day drudgery,” says Whitbourne.

The type of vacation matters, of course. If planned poorly, a vacation can actually lead to more stress. According to a 2010 report, a vacation where there’s lots of travel stress, like figuring out transportation logistics or feeling unsafe, can make vacationers feel less happy and more frazzled than they were before the trip. Taking the time to plan the trip can help ensure things run smoothly. In that same survey, 28% of people who said they had a bad vacation also said they left planning to the last minute.

Managing expectations is also key to having an enjoyable break. Your happiness will fluctuate during a vacation, after all. “If you understand people have different happiness levels over the course of vacation, that can give you some ideas for how to spend it,” says Whitbourne. “Have alone time or take a break, then come back together.”

And don’t forget to document your trip on your camera. “Take pictures, so that you can look back on them and the memories of vacation,” says Whitbourne.

Even if your trip seems to be filled with more mishaps than good memories, all is not lost: you can usually turn weird, bad or disappointing experiences into family jokes. “Everyone has those nightmare travel stories,” Whitbourne says. “But those can really bond families or partners.”

Here’s What Every Organ in the Body Would Cost to Transplant

It’s one thing to say that organ transplants are hard to come by. It’s another thing to consider that a intestinal transplant costs $1,147,300 on average.

Consulting firm Milliman tallies the average costs of different organ transplants in the U.S. And while most are expensive—some are very expensive. A kidney transplant runs just over $400,000. The cost for the average heart transplant, on the other hand, can approach $1.4 million.

Cost is only part of the problem though. Even if the U.S. healthcare system and individual patients are able to pay, availability is extremely limited. More than 116,000 Americans are waiting to receive a transplant, and about 20 die each day during the wait.

New breakthroughs, though, could reduce both wait times and expenses. This summer researchers made strides on processes that could eventually allow pig organs (with are biologically similar to ours) to be transplanted in humans, which would theoretically radically increase availability and decrease cost. Some researchers estimate that such transplants could be available within two years.

I went out in Brexit-loving Harlow with an EU flag on my chest – here’s what happened

EU flags fly above demonstrators during a Unite for Europe march in central London on March 25REUTERS/Paul Hackett
So here’s the thing. I’ve been feeling pretty sad about leaving the European Union, so to cheer myself up I ordered a T-shirt with the European flag on it. I intended to wear it on the day Article 50 was triggered, my way of declaring that for the moment at least I am still part of this great collective endeavour enshrining peace and prosperity on our continent. Big sigh. To hammer the point home, I bought a second blue T-shirt which said Still European.

They didn’t arrive in time, however, so I wore black on March 29th. I thought back to the six years that I was a journalist in Brussels – at a time the European Union was expanding to the East (which by the way, was pushed for by the UK who saw a wider union as an antidote to the ‘ever closer union’ that provoked irrational fear among our political elite. But I digress). In that time I saw a great many press releases, but none moved me to tears – until I read the European Council reaction to Article 50.

“We regret that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union, but we are ready for the process that we now will have to follow.” When I read those words I was filled with a deep rush of nostalgia. “We will approach these talks constructively and strive to find an agreement,” the press release continued. “In the future, we hope to have the United Kingdom as a close partner.”

When David Cameron announced the referendum, I chose to see it in a positive light (albeit with reserve about making such a massive constitutional decision this way). In the UK, there was (and sadly still is) a huge lack of understanding about how the EU operates, but I also perceived a strange unwillingness to see any good in it. Even people who professed themselves pro-European felt obliged to caveat all declarations with ‘but of course, it needs reform’ (as do many things, but somehow we feel able to express love for our partners and their cooking, for example, without needing to point out their flaws. But I digress again).

Emma wears her t-shirt in Harlow, where Arek Jozwik was killed.
I hoped the referendum would get things out in the open. We’d debate the benefits of the EU, even for those who never leave the UK – from cleaner beaches to cheaper mobile phone bills. We’d realise that a lot of things we blame on the EU were either baloney or a quirk of our very own Health & Safety regulations. We’d have an honest discussion about what we’d like to change, and how the UK could contribute to that reform (that ‘r’ word again). We might even realise that we have a lot in common with our EU neighbours, and how we stand stronger on the world stage when we’re together.

Very few people wanted to debate, however. Instead, there was lots of shouting, some lying, and the tragic shooting of MP Jo Cox. It was only after the vote when people started googling what leaving the EU would mean. In my neighbouring town of Harlow, a Polish man was beaten to death and some questioned whether Brexit was to blame for a rise in hate crime.

But what does any of this have to do with my EU T-shirts? When they arrived, I laid them out on the kitchen table – and considered sending them back. You see, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to wear them in public. My partner advised me not to. And that made me really mad (not his advice, I must stress, but the fact that I felt intimidated). A few years ago, if I’d worn the EU flag I would have looked like a nerd. Just when exactly did the climate of repression in this country mean that I can’t wear what I chose?

Why are you people still coming to talk to me about this Brexit?

I resolved to wear my T-shirts, no matter what anyone said. For the Saturday morning Harlow park run, a 5km (or 3.1 miles, if you prefer) running meet for around 150 people, I donned the Still European one. With the EU flag on my chest I walked from The Stow in Harlow, where Arek Jozwik was killed, to the centre of town. I also wore it for a trip into London and a walk along the Southbank.

At first, I thought – and quite possibly imagined – that I was attracting furtive glances. Harlow voted to leave the EU by a definitive 68.1% and when I turned, people often looked away. But the only comment on my choice of attire was “like the T-shirt,” when I crossed the finish line. Walking around London and in Harlow town centre, no-one seemed to notice.

READ MORE: 15-year-old boy appears in court accused of killing Polish national Arkadiusz Jozwik
So why had I been afraid to wear them? To help me figure it out, I paid a visit to Jacek Gora, who owns a Polish shop in The Stow. “Why are you people still coming to talk to me about this Brexit?” he asked, shaking his head. “People just want to get on with things like they did before.”

And it struck me that despite all this grandstanding from politicians, most people don’t care that much about the EU. Figures released from an Economist / Ipsos-MORI survey of British public opinion this week show that few people cited Europe as an important issue affecting the country – until politicians asked us to vote. The tragedy of this referendum is that what began as an internal dispute among politicians has now engulfed all of us. We were dragged into a referendum as a way of resolving things once and for all – for the Conservative party.

What we’re about to discover is that we won’t be able to go about things as we’d done quite happily before. But at least we can still wear the T-shirt.

Mandy Moore Called This the Ponytail of Her Dreams—Here’s How to Get the Look

Forget what you thought you knew about the classic ponytail. Sure, it’s a great go-to for the gym, but this hairstyle also has the potential to be so much more than that. Here to prove it to you is Mandy Moore, who debuted a loose, feminine ponytail at a recent press event. The This Is Us actress, 33, called the style “The ponytail of my dreams” on Instagram, and we can see why: her perfectly-messy updo was effortlessly chic without being overly complicated. We asked the man behind her look, celebrity hairstylist Bobby Eliot, to break down the five easy moves that made Moore’s ponytail dreams a reality.

Step one: Keep hair dirty

Dirty hair has more texture, making it easier to work with. “We went for a sort of lived-in French girl look,” says Eliot, “It’s both effortless and easy, and works great on second-day hair.” In other words, skip the fresh blowout.

Step two: Amp up the volume

Eliot recommends prepping hair with Oribe Grandiose Hair Plumping Mousse ($39; amazon.com) for serious texture. Work it into strands, lifting at the root with your hands for extra volume. If you want, you can also blast a blow dryer angled upwards as you hold sections of hair straight up for added va-va-voom. The best part: no brush necessary!

RELATED: How to Master a Polished Ponytail Like Khloe Kardashian

Step three: Reach for your curling iron

Once the mousse completely dries on hair, use a curling iron to add some movement by creating loose bends. Eliot likes Harry Josh Pro Tools 1.25″ ($185; dermstore.com). You don’t want this to look overly polished though, so leave the ends of hair out when curling the strands. It’s not important to curl every single piece, so focus on just a few strands throughout.

Step four: Secure the ponytail

Once you’re happy with the texture, part hair down the center and grab a few face-framing pieces to leave out (this works best on short to medium length hair.) Pull hair into a high ponytail nestled at the crown of your head and fasten with an elastic. Check yourself in a mirror and pull the pony tighter so you see the hair on top of your head lift a little. You can also use your fingers to mess it up a little—for the first time ever, flyaways are your friends!

Step five: Add some finishing touches

“We finished the look off with a blue velvet ribbon that I got at a local vintage store” says Eliot. Any ribbon will work, though—just tie the base of the pony in a bow so that it covers the elastic. Finally, polish ends with Oribe Gold Lust Nourishing Hair Oil ($55; amazon.com). Slick a pea-sized amount in hands and rub together to evenly distribute the formula, then grab the ends and rub between fingers for piecey-ness.

My Daughter Nearly Died of Sepsis. Here’s How You Can Stay Safe

We thought it was the flu. On a bleak afternoon this past winter, my 16-year-old daughter came home early from school, complaining of a fever and sore throat. Less than 48 hours later, I was sitting next to her in an ambulance, careening toward the nearest emergency room.

It wasn’t the flu. An underlying urinary tract infection and a nascent case of strep throat had combined forces to create a perfect storm in my daughter’s body, and she had gone into septic shock—the most severe stage of sepsis, a potentially fatal condition and a leading cause of all in-hospital deaths.

What is sepsis?

Sepsis is an extreme bodily response to infection, in which inflammation throughout the body can lead to organ damage and even organ failure. It’s often characterized by fever, a high heart rate, low blood pressure, confusion, and dizziness.

Sepsis doesn’t have a particular season of the year, and it can hit almost anyone, regardless of age or prior health. In March, Oscar-winning actress Patty Duke died of sepsis from a ruptured intestine at the age of 69. In 2009, 20 year-old Brazilian model Mariana Bridi da Costa died within days after a UTI turned into an aggressive case of sepsis.

“People with sepsis can slip from what seems like routine infection into a systemic situation very quickly,” warns Anthony Fiore, MD, chief of Epidemiologic Research and Innovations in the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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If it’s such a big deal, why haven’t I heard of it?

Because there currently isn’t a single standard methodology for assessing sepsis, hard statistics on its prevalence and mortality rates can be hard to pin down. But according to the CDC, over one million cases of sepsis occur each year, and it’s the ninth leading cause of “disease-related deaths.” The National Institutes of Health reports that sepsis kills more people in the U.S. than prostate cancer, breast cancer, and AIDS combined.

Yet while less common conditions like Ebola and Zika garner big headlines, you may not have ever even heard of sepsis before. Donald Landry, MD, chair of medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, has a theory about that. “It’s a syndrome, not a disease,” he says. “It gets buried in other conditions. It doesn’t register with the public as something identifiable.”

How can I recognize the symptoms?

Fortunately, once you know the warning signs, sepsis can be recognized and effectively treated—and often with no further long term consequences.

“If you get an infection, you’re likely to have a fever and likely going to feel somewhat lousy,” explains Craig M. Coopersmith, MD, a past president of the Society of Critical Care Medicine. “But if you feel there’s anything above and beyond that—if you feel your heart racing, if you’re breathing fast, if your family recognizes that you’re confused, if it feels like you’re making less urine than usual—anything that feels abnormal to yourself or your loved ones might be a warning sign that not only might you have an infection, you might have an organ dysfunction. And if you do, that is a true medical emergency, because your health and potentially the life of yourself or of your loved one might be at stake.”

If you suspect sepsis in yourself or a loved one (besides those listed above, other signs include pale or discolored skin, rash, and, as the CDC helpfully puts it, “I feel like I might die”) the CDC recommends heading to the emergency room and saying directly, “I am concerned about sepsis.”

RELATED: 8 Things ER Doctors Refuse to Have in Their Homes

My daughter’s story has a happy ending. After a terrifying 36 hours in the ER and a potent mix of antibiotics, fluids, and dopamine, her condition stabilized. She spent a few days in the intensive care unit and another week recovering, then returned to school with no other ill effects than falling behind on her math homework.

That’s the easily achieved outcome I now want for so many more families like mine. Simple awareness can make all the difference. As Dr. Coopersmith says, “If sepsis is recognized in every patient and treated rapidly and appropriately, we can save multiple thousands of lives a year.”

Here’s Why More Kids Will Be Diagnosed With High Blood Pressure

Andrew Brookes/Getty Images
Simplified tables from American Academy of Pediatrics likely to raise detection rates

U.S. kids and teens are likely to be diagnosed and treated for high blood pressure because of new guidelines released Monday from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
About 3.5 percent of children and teens have abnormally high blood pressure (“hypertension”), which often goes unnoticed and untreated, the academy said.

“If there is diagnosis of hypertension, there are many ways we can treat it,” said Dr. David Kaelber, who helped develop the guidelines. “But because the symptoms are silent, the condition is often overlooked.”

When high blood pressure isn’t addressed, it can lead to heart and kidney problems years later, the academy added.

This is of special concern because incidence of childhood high blood pressure has risen in the United States since 1988, although recently it has plateaued, the guideline authors noted.

Under the new, simplified tables, children will have their blood pressure measured against normal-weight children, so ideal readings will likely be lower than in the past. Obese or overweight kids — who were included under earlier guidelines — are more likely to have high blood pressure, possibly skewing recommended measurements.

As a result of this change, it’s thought more children could be categorized as needing treatment.

That’s a good thing, Kaelber’s team said.

Dr. Joseph Flynn, who co-chaired the guidelines subcommittee with Kaelber, explained that “by catching the condition early, we are able to work with the family to manage it, whether that’s through lifestyle changes, medication or a combination of treatments.”

Noting the link between obesity and high blood pressure, the academy pointed out that lifestyle changes — such as diet and exercise — are the first-line treatment for high blood pressure.

Doctors should prescribe blood pressure-lowering medications if those behavior changes don’t reduce blood pressure, or if the child has another condition, such as kidney disease or diabetes, according to the guidelines.

But first, kids with an elevated blood pressure reading should have 24-hour monitoring at home, the academy said. This will rule out the possibility of “white coat effect” — anxiety in the doctor’s office that raises blood pressure.

Also, to simplify classification for doctors, the academy recommends adults and teens use the same blood pressure tables.

“These guidelines offer a renewed opportunity for pediatricians to identify and address this important — and often unrecognized — chronic disease in our patients,” Kaelber said. “The easy part was developing the new guidelines. Now we begin the harder work of implementing them to help children and adolescents.”