The Rising Incidence of Hypertension in Young Adults: Risk Factors and Early Prevention

Aug 22, 2023

According to recent American College of Cardiology guidelines, hypertension is defined as "average blood pressure of >130/80 mm HG - recorded at 2 separate intervals at least 4 hours apart. [1]" Worldwide, between 2000 and 2009, the prevalence of hypertension among people aged 20–29 was estimated to be 12.7% in men and 7.4% in women. By the time they were 30 to 39 years old, those numbers had increased to 18.4% and 12.6%, respectively [2]. According to WHO predictions, 1.56 billion people will develop hypertension by 2025, in creasing the global burden [3].


The incidence of hypertension among young individuals has increased dramatically in recent years [4]. What was once considered a health concern primarily for older individuals is now affecting the vibrant youth population too. This shift calls for immediate attention toward prevention and management strategies tailored specifically for young adults.


This article is about the rising incidence of hypertension in young adults, identifying the risk factors, and taking early interventions. 

What are the risk factors for hypertension in young adults?

Let's take a look at some of the most prevalent causes of high blood pressure in young adults:


1.Unhealthy lifestyle:

●Sedentary habits

●Lack of physical exercise

●Weight gain ( raised BMI)


2.Poor dietary choices:

●Not eating enough fruits and vegetables

●Eating large amounts of meat

●Taking large amounts of sodium salt, fat, and sugar

●Taking less magnesium and potassium in the food


Note: For years, doctors only focused on "high intake of sodium" as the main culprit of hypertension; however, recent studies have found that reduced intake of Magnesium and Potassium is also a cause of hypertension [5].


3.Stress: Young adults often face multiple pressures – from work or school deadlines to relationship issues – all contributing to increased stress levels.

●Depression

●Type A personality


4.Family history: If one or both parents have high blood pressure, it increases the likelihood that their offspring will develop it too.


5.Smoking: These are among the major risk factors for hypertension.


6.Alcohol consumption


7.Certain medical conditions: Diseases like diabetes or kidney dysfunction can increase the risk of developing hypertension at a younger age.

What are the alarming signs of hypertension in young adults?

Hypertension is a silent killer in young adults. Most of the time, it does not show any red flags. However


●Frontal headache

●Blurring of vision

●Breathlessness

●Nosebleeds

●Dizziness

●Raised heartbeat

●Nausea 

How hypertension affects young individuals?

Global epidemiology studies show hypertension is related to the early onset of many serious conditions, including heart failure, stroke, brain hemorrhage, kidney disease, or impaired renal function [6]. 

How can hypertension be prevented in young adults?

Young individuals can follow these preventive measures to reduce their risk of developing hypertension.


1. Healthy lifestyle: 

A healthy lifestyle is key to preventing hypertension. This includes:


●Eating a balanced diet:

●Lower intake of sodium and saturated fats

●Less meat consumption

●Increased intake of magnesium, potassium, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.

●Regular physical activity, such as aerobic exercises, can also help keep blood pressure levels under control.

●Avoiding smoking

●Weight management

●Limiting alcohol consumption


2. Managing stress:

Young individuals need to manage their stress effectively to control their BP. There are many options available:


●Get enough sleep

●Meditation

●Yoga

●Writing a journal

●Reading self-help books

●Seeking psychiatric help


3. Regular monitoring of blood pressure:

Young adults should regularly check their blood pressure at home using a reliable monitor and keep track of their readings. This will help them identify any spikes or fluctuations in their blood pressure levels and take appropriate action.


Conclusions

In today's fast-paced and stressful world, hypertension is no longer just a concern for older individuals. The risk factors for hypertension in young people need to be better understood. Poor lifestyle choices such as unhealthy eating habits, sedentary lifestyles, excessive alcohol consumption, and smoking play a significant role. By raising awareness about the rising incidence of hypertension in young adults, along with prevention strategies and proper management techniques through regular monitoring of blood pressure levels coupled with healthy lifestyle choices, we can empower this generation to take control of their health now before it becomes too late!

References:

1.Whelton, P. K., Carey, R. M., Mancia, G., Kreutz, R., Bundy, J. D., & Williams, B. (2022). Harmonization of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association and European Society of Cardiology/European Society of Hypertension Blood Pressure/hypertension guidelines: Comparisons, reflections, and recommendations. Circulation, 146(11), 868–877. 


2.Nwankwo, T., Yoon, S. S., Burt, V., & Gu, Q. (2013). Hypertension among adults in the United States: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2011-2012. NCHS data brief, (133), 1–8.


3.Global health risks: mortality and disease burden attributable to selected major risks. World Health Organization: Global health risks: mortality and disease burden attributable to selected major risks. 01/01/2009. [ Jan; 2009 ]. 2009. 


4.Meher, M., Pradhan, S., & Pradhan, S. R. (2023). Risk Factors Associated With Hypertension in Young Adults: A Systematic Review. Cureus, 15(4), e37467. 


5.Pitzer Mutchler, A., Huynh, L., Patel, R., Lam, T., Bain, D., Jamison, S., Kirabo, A., & Ray, E. C. (2023). The role of dietary magnesium deficiency in inflammatory hypertension. Frontiers in Physiology, 14. 


6.Papadopoulos, D. P., Mourouzis, I., Thomopoulos, C., Makris, T., & Papademetriou, V. (2010). Hypertension crisis. Blood pressure, 19(6), 328–336. 

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