Sunset Park

NYU Lutheran helps kids with ‘white coat hypertension’

July 11, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Dr. Laura Malaga-Dieguez specializes in pediatric nephrology at NYU Lutheran Medical Center. Photo courtesy of NYU Lutheran
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Doctors at NYU Lutheran Medical Center have made an interesting discovery with the help of new technology and the results could go a long way toward helping children avoid high blood pressure.

A new clinical breakthrough, an at-home monitoring bracelet, has allowed Dr. Laura Malaga-Dieguez, leader of NYU Lutheran’s pediatric nephrology service, to determine that half of the children referred to her for high blood pressure don’t actually have it.

It turns out the kids are just afraid of doctors.

“It’s a real condition — not limited to kids — called ‘white-coat hypertension.’ Their blood pressure elevates when they are in the doctor’s office. But the monitor bracelets show us that their blood pressure is normal at home or at school,” Malaga-Dieguez said in a statement.

The 24-hour bracelet monitor takes blood pressure readings every 20 minutes during the day and every 30 minutes at night. With a full day of data collection, Malaga-Dieguez can make an accurate diagnosis and assess the necessary treatments, hospital officials said.

NYU Lutheran is working on solutions so that children can get over a fear of doctors.

Malaga-Dieguez advised that if a child is suspected of having high blood pressure, they should see their pediatrician immediately.

NYU Lutheran, located at 150 55th St. in Sunset Park, is expanding its pediatric subspecialties — including pediatric nephrology, according to hospital officials. Nephrology deals with diseases of the kidney. High blood pressure (HBP) can lead to kidney disease.

Malaga-Dieguez, a board-certified pediatric nephrologist, who is one of the few pediatric nephrology specialists practicing in Brooklyn.

“Due to the proliferation of childhood obesity, sedentary lifestyles and diets made up of high-sodium processed foods, our children and adolescents are especially at risk for diseases resulting from HBP,” Malaga-Dieguez stated.

Malaga-Dieguez, who is the first pediatric specialist to set up a practice at NYU Lutheran following the hospital’s merger with the NYU Langone health system, took an interest to medicine early in life.

She hails from a family of doctors, including both parents and an older brother. Her father is still a practicing pediatric nephrologist. “I grew up around talk of dialysis and nephrons [the kidney’s basic structural unit],” she said. “It fascinated me that we’re each born with a finite amount of nephrons — usually between 300,000 and 1.5 million — and you have to take care of each one.”

Malaga-Dieguez completed her medical degree at the University of Oviedo in Asturias, Spain, and earned a Ph.D. at the University of Vienna in Austria.

In addition to high blood pressure, Malaga-Dieguez’s patients often need treatment for kidney disease, urinary tract disease and kidney stones, according to hospital officials. “You don’t think of kids having these issues. But we’re seeing more stones than 10 years ago. Causes include diet and heredity. Some even cite climate change; in warmer weather, people don’t drink enough water,” she stated.

For more information on the pediatric nephrology program at NYU Lutheran, call 718-630-7979.


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