Young Adult Hypertension: The Silent Killer

High blood pressure is one of those consequences of old age everyone has come to watch for and caution against. Blood pressure is the strength of your blood-flow as it goes through the walls of your arteries and veins. It’s normal for the blood pressure to rise and fall as you sleep, wake, work, do your activities.

A constant high blood pressure damages your heart and organs, which can lead to serious conditions: heart disease, hardening of the arteries, brain hemorrhage, stroke, kidney disease, and blindness. There’s also erectile dysfunction (ED) to consider (for stubborn men). Men with high blood pressure are more than twice as likely (2.5 times) to develop ED as they grow older.

Everyone wants to avoid high blood pressure. Statistics show that when people go past 40 or 50 years of age, they eat better, drink less, exercise more and begin checkups. They also buy those little blood pressure monitors.

But in the recent decade, many studies and research have found an alarming increase in hypertension in young adults — who never even realize they are hypertensive.

1 out of 3 adults have high blood pressure in the US. In that statistic, 1 in 5 are young adults, ages 20 to 39. And only half of them find out from their doctors that they have high blood pressure.

Hypertension is a silent killer. How many of you have had startling, devastating news from friends and colleagues, who knew someone who died suddenly and so young because of an unforeseen and unexpected stroke?

Hypertension In The Young

That alarming statistic is mainly due to the widespread obesity in this country, one of the main contributing factors of hypertension. Bad diets and sedentary lifestyles contribute to hypertension as well. Many people in this age bracket usually work sitting at a desk for 8 hours–the more ambitious even take their work home and sit some more.

The scariest part is how only half of young adults with hypertension get diagnosed. For many young patients, they usually find out they have hypertension as a result of an office visit for an entirely different reason.

Risks and Symptoms

Those who are overweight, those who smoke, drink, and lack regular exercise — all have an increased risk of pre-hypertension and hypertension.

The symptoms? None. There are no visible signs. Some only begin to suspect when they experience signs of a pending stroke.

Don’t wait until then.

If you are high-risk for hypertension, find out through your physician, who will make the diagnosis in two or more readings on different visits.

Treatment and Prevention

After diagnosis, a shift in your diet and lifestyle would be prescribed, along with medications for severe hypertension.

The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, also linked to preventing Alzheimer’s and dementia, is composed of vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy, fish, poultry, whole grains and nuts, with a reduced intake of red meats, sweets, fat and sugary drinks.

Cutting your daily consumption of salt to less than a teaspoon may also lower your blood pressure by several points.

Daily aerobic exercise keeps your blood flowing and your heart healthy. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity. The 30 minutes of moderate activity doesn’t have to be in one chunk. If climbing the stairs at work takes you 5 minutes every time, and you climb it at least 3 times in a day, that’s already 15 minutes of moderate activity!

Important: Before getting active after being sedentary for a long time, consult your doctor. Biking, brisk walking, and swimming are the most recommended activities. They don’t jolt your body and they cause the least harm to your joints. Start slow.

Quit smoking and drink alcohol lightly. Monitor your blood pressure with your physician. Hypertension is a silent killer. Spread the word and watch out for your friends and family.