Call the Doctor

Consult a physician if

• hiccups last longer than 20 to 30 minutes

• hiccups occur in association with a prolonged cough, muscle weakness on one side of the body, or severe vomiting high blood pressure While high blood pressure is primarily a problem among older Americans, it can occur in children—even newborns. About 1 percent of American children have high blood pressure.

Blood pressure is the measure of two forces— the force as the heart pumps blood into the arteries and through the circulation system, and the force from the arteries as they resist this flow. High blood pressure, known medically as hypertension, occurs when the blood pressure rises significantly above normal. This can have devastating effects on the body, because the higher pressure forces the heart to work harder.

Blood pressure is always measured using two numbers—the first number (systolic) measures the pressure while the heart beats, and the second number (diastolic) measures the blood's pressure when the heart is resting between beats. In an adult, a blood pressure of 120/70 is considered very healthy; hypertension is considered to be 130/85.

Normal blood pressure readings are lower for younger children and rise with age, varying according to age, gender, and height of a child. An occasional high reading does not necessarily indicate hypertension, but consistent high readings could indicate a problem.

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