INCREASING HYPERTENSION IN YOUNG PEOPLE

The rate of increasing hypertension among young people is becoming worrisome. Although hypertension in young people is not uncommon, however there appears to be a surge in recent time. Something is fundamentally wrong and unless that is addressed, the trend may worsen

Hypertension  or elevated blood pressure  is a serious medical condition that significantly increases the risks of heart, brain, kidney and other diseases

Hypertension affects one-quarter of the global population and is the leading modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease and mortality. It can affect all ages but the prevalence is higher in the elderly.

Why are more young people coming down with hypertension?

There reason why younger people(age less than 40years) are having a surge in high blood pressure can be attributed to a lot of factors;

Lifestyle – many young people are often involved in certain lifestyle that posses risk to the development of hypertension such as smoking, binge drinking with alcohol and a lot are overweight or obese

Young people are less likely to accept the diagnosis of hypertension and hence would not show up for follow up thereby missing out on possible treatment using life-style modification. This greatly contribute to the consequent complications e.g stroke due to failure to take action when it was necessary

Lowered threshold for hypertension – The American Heart Association (AHA) lowered the diagnostic threshold for stage 1 hypertension in the 2017 Guidelines from 140/90 to 130/80 mm Hg across all age. This has also impacted the number of young people diagnosed of hypertension

No doubt the rate of increasing hypertension in young people can be attributed to the above

Categories

The Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC 7) guidelines categorize hypertension as follows:
Normal. Less than 120/80mmHg
Elevated. 120-129/ below 80
Hypertension. 130/80
Stage 2 hypertension. 140/90

Causes of hypertension

  • The exact causes of high blood pressure are not known, but several things may play a role, including:
    Smoking
    Being overweight or obese
    Physical inactivity
    Too much salt in the diet
    Too much alcohol consumption (more than 1 to 2 drinks per day)
    Consumption of tobacco
    Stress
    Older age
    Genetics
    Family history of high blood pressure
    Chronic kidney disease
    Disorders of adrenal and thyroid gland
    Sleep apnea

Increasing hypertension among young people

Symptoms of Hypertension

Most people with hypertension are unaware of the problem because it may have no warning signs or symptoms. This is why it is regarded as a “silent killer”. However, when symptoms occur, they include:

  • Early morning headaches
    Nosebleeds
    Irregular heart rhythms,
    Vision changes,
    Buzzing in the ears.

Severe hypertension can cause

  • Fatigue
    Nausea
    Vomiting
    Confusion
    Anxiety
    Chest pain
    Muscle tremors

What are the complications of uncontrolled hypertension?

Among other complications, hypertension can cause serious damage to the heart. Excessive pressure can harden arteries, decreasing the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. This elevated pressure and reduced blood flow can cause:
Chest pain, also called angina.
Heart attack, which occurs when the blood supply to the heart is blocked and heart muscle cells die from lack of oxygen. The longer the blood flow is blocked, the greater the damage to the heart.
Heart failure, which occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to other vital body organs.
Irregular heart beat which can lead to a sudden death.

Hypertension can also burst or block arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the brain, causing a stroke.

It can cause kidney damage, leading to kidney failure.

How can the burden of hypertension be reduced?

Reducing hypertension prevents heart attack, stroke, and kidney damage, as well as other health problems.

Prevention

  • Reducing salt intake (to less than 5g daily).
    Eating more fruit and vegetables.
    Being physically active on a regular basis.
    Avoiding use of tobacco.
    Reducing alcohol consumption.
    Limiting the intake of foods high in saturated fats.
    Eliminating/reducing trans fats in diet.

Management

  • Reducing and managing stress.
    Regularly checking blood pressure.
    Treating high blood pressure.
    Managing other medical conditions.

Sources:

https://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/features/hypertension-serious-in-young-men
https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hypertension
https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.119.13820

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