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You're Never Too Young for High Blood Pressure

By , SparkPeople Blogger
When I was young, I remember my grandmother religiously taking her blood pressure medication.  I always thought that high blood pressure was mostly a problem for the elderly, but that's no longer the case.  According to statistics from the American Heart Association, about 74.5 million people in the United States ages 20 and older have high blood pressure.  You'd think that the number of younger people with the condition is relatively small.  But according to a recent survey, the number could be much higher than previously thought.
The findings, published in the journal Epidemiology, come from a federal survey called the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.  This study followed participants beginning in the mid-1990's (when they were between the ages of 12 and 19.)  According to data from a 2008 follow-up, one in five 24 to 32-year olds reported having high blood pressure.  High blood pressure (hypertension) is defined as a reading of more than 140/90 milligrams of mercury (mmHg).        
Not surprisingly, by 2008, the majority of the young people in the study classified themselves as being overweight or obese- both of which are risk factors for hypertension.  When they started the study in 1995, 11 percent were considered obese.  In 2008, 37 percent were obese and an additional 30 percent were considered overweight.  Researchers were troubled by the pace of weight gain in the participants. 
One of the most troubling findings was that the majority of these people had no idea they had hypertension.  In their 20's and 30's, most young people probably aren't going to the doctor regularly unless they have some other medical condition.  If left untreated, over time high blood pressure can lead to weakening of the arteries, vision and kidney problems and heart attacks.  Many times it can be treated with lifestyle changes such as limiting salt intake, weight loss and regular exercise. 
If you're interested in learning more about this condition, how to prevent it and how to treat it, check out SparkPeople's High Blood Pressure Condition Center

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I have closer to low blood pressure, not to upset anyone; just sayin Report
Me too, I got high blood pressure (discovered in 2011) :
I was told in Jan 2012 by my new GP to lose 10 pounds and exercise more.
I lost 14.5 pounds since and now I am healthy again ! Report
im 22 and 125 lbs overweight and i was told my blood pressure is getting high. not quite to actually high blood pressure but the high side of normal and i was told i had to watch it. that was 4 months ago all i did was keep up my exercise and cut out some salt in my diet. not all but about half of it. my blood pressure is perfect now. i get checked every 4 months since i have to go in to get birth control so i always know where my blood pressure is. Report
If you want to cure your high blood pressure permanently, and get off pharmaceuticals, I highly highly recommend the book, "The Blood Pressure Hoax", by Sherry A Rogers, MD. Report
I was definitely one of those people. In 2006, at 30 years old, I had a BMI of 33.9. I went to the doctor for something stupid (like a sore throat or something) and had a blood pressure with a BOTTOM number of 100 (don't even ask me what the top number was). High blood pressure runs in my family, but that... that was really scary.

My doctor saved my life that day. He looked me square in the eye and said, "I'm not here to make you feel good, I'm here to make you healthy. And in that spirit, I'm telling you that you need to lose weight or you will die. I refuse to prescribe medication for you because you are too young and very capable of making this go away with your own hard work. Here's some ideas..." and he handed me the Couch to 5k running plan, suggested calorie intakes for me, and helped me set realistic goals.

Today, at 35 years old, my blood pressure is 118/66, my BMI 21.5, and I am so grateful to my doctor for helping me establish - and love! - an active, healthy lifestyle. :)
Years ago, when I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and handed samples and a prescription without any discussion, I refused to take the meds until I checked further, because I'd heard that once you start BP meds you have to stay on one kind or another for life or risk rebound hypertension and higher risks to your health. There was no history of hypertension in my family except for one grandmother who was elderly.

I was actually in the borderline area and learned there is controversy about when to start BP meds. I also checked the side effects of my current prescriptions, and ta-da, hypertension was on the list of primary side effects for my antidepressant, so I asked my psychiatrist to change that medication. BP dropped.

I am once again in the borderline area and keep an eye on it. Sometimes it has been very high but I am not going to start hypertension meds based on a single reading. I also carefully read about all medications, OTC and Rx, and supplements, so I can make an informed choice and watch for BP changes if I take cold meds or whatever.

It is great to be aware of hypertension and watch for it in even young people, but also do your homework and work with your doctor(s). I do not appreciate a doctor giving me the Rx for life without even a discussion of alternative approaches, be they dietary or whatever. I never returned to that clinic all those years ago, and one other time, I changed doctors when one was insistent on meds after one BP reading in the borderline area. I just don't like folks being rushed into lifelong meds based on a single reading unless it is REALLY high.

I was one of these people. I have suffered from chronic sinusitis for years and was talking Advil Cold and Sinus. I didn't know I was prone to high blood pressure and the pseudoepedrine brought my pressure up to 160/120. I went to the doctor for the bad headaches I was suffering from and they took my blood pressure and that's how I found out. They were worried I was going to have a stroke. Everything is fine now but it's so important to pay attention to the 'little' changes you notice in your body and to seek medical attention if anything feels strange. Stress and weight play a huge role but as my doctor says, genetics loads the gun but environment pulls the trigger. Healthy choices can keep any tendencies in check. Report
With regard to the last comment about many younger people not knowing they have high blood pressure because they are otherwise healthy and don't go to the doctor so it doesn't get checked. In the SP Trivia quiz, there is a question about how often you should have your blood pressure checked. The first time I saw this question, I chose "at least once a year" for the very reason alluded to above. I learned that the "correct" SP answer was "every time you see a doctor" so that's how I answer it now, but I still think my answer is better. Report
This blog is mind boggling but not surprising. The younger generations have been brought up living of fast what did you expect???? To the young parents - those in their 20s- 30s - you now need to start cutting back on feeding your kids (and future kids) fast foods and learn to do more home cooking where you can adjust your sodium and sugar that you put in your meals, indoctrinate a fitness routing in your life and that of your kids so as to bring up a healthier future generation. Report
Not only are regular blood pressures of 140/90 and over considered hypertension, but consistent pressures in the range of 120 - 139/80 - 89 are considered to be pre-hypertensive and should be monitored regularly and controlled with diet and exercise to prevent the development of hypertension. Report
This is a great blog but its sad that so many young people r sffering and don't even know it. Lord help us! Report
Such important information! Report
I was diagnosed @ age 55 with HBP. I was started on an appropriate med. I was NOT happy about it!! By Jan. 2010 I added type 2 diabetes to the "list" and that was it for me! Joined SP. Started eating clean. Now my b/p is controlled and will probably be able to get off the med this month. As for the diabetes . . . well, I am proud to say that through hard work, following SP diet and exercise suggestions, I went from 192 lbs. (in Nov. 2009 -- prior to joining SP) to 100 lbs. on my 4 ft. 10-1/2 in frame and can certainly say it has improved my health a thousand fold!

Hypertension is such an evil, because there really aren't symptoms. Thanks for this life saving blog. Report
I know of a 12 year old who they thought had migraines, turned out, she had sky high blood pressure. I always thought she would end up with high blood pressure because she put so much salt on things (30 shakes of the shaker wasn't unusual for her)- but never thought she would end up with it so soon. Report
I'm in my 30s and have had enough 'borderline' readings that I've gone in for a screening, but not diagnosed with HBP. My dad has it though, so I'm worried about developing it too. I've started changing my diet, starting with foods lower in sodium. Report
Some doctors really don't tell you unless it's outrageously high. Mine gradually went up and it wasn't til it was over 160 that someone told me - I could have been on meds earlier and maybe skipped the stroke - and looks like it is happening younger and younger. Report
great blog... Report
My sister was just diagnosed this week with high blood pressure and she is 27 years old. She has a normal BMI and is very active. In her case it is hereditary. I told her to talk to her doctor about natural ways to control it, but I don't know if that's the best advise. This was a great timely read for me. Report
It certainly pays to be at a normal BMI. Report
I was 36 and pregnant with my first child when I developed high blood pressure. I have had it ever since. Dr. put me on the 50 mg dose of rx and it has been fine since. She did state that I will have to take it the rest of my life though, even if I lose more weight. That is a bummer. Report
I know can never be to young for high blood pressure. My 17 year old grand daughter was diagnosed at age 11. She has never been over weight and she is very active physcally. Report
I've never had high blood pressure even though I was obese. Since I've lost weight my blood pressure has gotten even lower I wonder if hpertension is in the genes. Report
I believe High Blood Pressure (HBP) is 50% dietary and 50% genetic/environmental. Stress can elevate the blood pressure too especially when accompanied by making poor eating choices. It runs in my family so I'm out running :-). Report
It scares me how little people pay attention to their health and seem to feel like they can abuse their bodies without consequence, or that those consequences are so far in the future that they have time to fix it when they feel like it.

One thing I don't understand about this study - how could the participants report that they had high blood pressure but not know they had hypertension? Is it an issue of semantics or was it that someone was taking their blood pressure and not telling them that it was too high??

High blood pressure runs in my family, even for young people, but mine is very low and I attribute it to regular exercise. There's no excuse, other than physical limitations I suppose, not to use a healthy lifestyle to get the numbers to a healthy level!! Report
My blood pressure was always WNL until I was in my 40's. Dealing with weight gain and loss since I was 27, I figured that took a toll on my cardiovacular system. One day when I was giving blood at the red cross, (they take your BP), and it was like 140/90. I was SHOCKED....AND in denial! I would check it on those machines in the drug stores, and it was still high. I did finally go to the Dr. I was not given anything right away, but the first BP med, made me so dizzy, I stopped it. I was later given HCTZ, a water pill. IT did nothing for my water retention or BP. Restricting salt really didn't help either. Losing weight, and exercise DID help, but not enough. When I started taking Vitamin D for my BONES, I noticed my BP dropping. Then when I read about L-arginine for BP, started that, and now my BP stayes under control....except at the Drs. I have WCS....I monitor my BP regularly and record it to take to the Dr. my PROOF, I only have HBP at the Drs. now!! Oh, and anytime you have HBP, you need 4700 mg. of potassium a watch for that nutrient in your diet!!! Report
I was diagnosed with HTN in 1977 at age 15. Right after that I was diagnosed with IDDM. Been on medication ever sense. Had a brain stem stroke in 2005 and the MRI showed I had had 3 other strokes. It happens to many people. My B/P is very well controlled now. Limit my salt intake, exercise and faithfully take my medication, although the dose is lower! Report
We have a history of High Blood Pressure, obesity and diabetes in my family. My grandfather died from diabetes and my mother suffered from High Blood Pressure a few years ago. My older brother has just recently been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and he is pretty confident that it's all because of his poor health and eating choices. I found myself naturally going down the same path as my family until recently. I guess I had just given up. I tried a lot of different stuff and couldn't find anything that I could really stick to. I'm so pleased I found this blog to help me. My brother has a had pretty good result recently from this Innocent Weight Loss thing that he found on line. It's actually the thing that made me decide to check out these blogs. He's lost around 22lbs so far and he thinks he'll be able to keep it off now. I'm starting on Monday with it but I'm definitely looking forward to eating what I want this weekend. Anyway, I like this Daily Spark Blog. I hope it all works. Chris Prayer Report
yes i had it in 20's during pregnancy and cut down and out the salt.

then fluctuated in 50's when working too many hours.

ballance and moderation now but i don't stress over it.

ocassional check and aware of warning signs of overdoing things. Report