Many young people believe that high blood pressure or hypertension only affects older people. This myth was busted by a study carried out by the University of North Carolina’s Carolina population Center. The findings published in Epidemiology show that 19 percent of young people suffer from high blood pressure. The study covered 14,000 participants between the ages of 24 and 32. The bad news is hypertension in young people is developing at an alarming rate. The Institute of Medicine reckons hypertension drains $73 billion from the US health sector every year. These statistics are alarming and steps should be taken to tame this silent killer.
An Overview of High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure results usually consist of two numeric measurements. The first numeric value represents systolic pressure and the second one diastolic pressure. Doctors measure the force exerted by blood as it is pumped from the heart to various body organs. You can develop serious health problems if the blood pressure levels remain high for long periods. According to the national committee taxed with monitoring hypertension, you should be aware of the following categories.
- 120/80 represents normal blood pressure.
- 120-139/80-89 represents prehypertension.
- 140/90 represents the hypertension stage. If you have diabetes or kidney disease, a reading of 130/80 represents the accepted threshold.
- 160/100 represents dangerous stage two hypertension levels.
The University of North Carolina researchers were stunned to find hypertension cuts across all demographics. This includes race, gender, age, and body weight. Health practitioners recognize two types of hypertension: essential and secondary. The first type is responsible for up to 95 percent of all known cases. Secondary hypertension risk factors include drugs, hormonal imbalances, and kidney disease. Researchers believe increasing levels of obesity contribute a lot towards hypertension in young people. The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health has published the results of a revealing study. Participants were monitored from a young age. The results show that only 11 percent of participants were obese between the ages of 12 to 19. The level of obesity increased to 22 percent after five years. The situation became even worse when participants were aged between 24 and 32. Obesity levels for this age group hovered around 37 percent.
Researchers have identified several hypertension risk factors. Young people with high cholesterol levels, excess body fat percentage, and resistance to insulin should seek medical help immediately. A combination of these factors can lead to heart disease complications. In addition, obstructive sleep apnea and early vertex baldness can also contribute to high blood pressure. You should also be concerned if your family has a history of hypertension.
Keeping Blood Pressure Down
Preventing and managing hypertension can be achieved by following a multi-pronged strategy. The first step should be keeping body weight at healthy and manageable levels. Your body mass index (BMI) target should range from 18.5 to 24.9. Such a reduction can lower systolic blood pressure by up to 20 points for every 10 kilograms shed. The second step involves the DASH eating program. Reducing salt consumption by 1,600 mg will lower systolic blood pressure by two to eight points.
It is also advisable to focus on a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and low-fat food products. Fruits such as berries contain blood pressure lowering flavonoids. Eating nuts improves endothelial cell function and enhances blood regulation. Make sure you take alcohol in moderation.
In addition, regular physical activity will go a long way in improving your health. Activities such as walking or jogging for about 30 minutes every day will bring down your systolic blood pressure by about nine points. Young people cannot afford to lead unhealthy lifestyles anymore. If you fail to take the necessary precautions, the risk of developing hypertension will rise every day. Now is always the best time to start living a healthier life.
About the Author: Mandi writes health-related topics dedicated for patients who have had laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery to promote proper weight management and healthy lifestyle.
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