Washington: Nearly 20 percent of young adults in the U.S. may have high blood pressure, a new government-funded study has revealed.
The researchers took blood pressure readings of more than 14,000 men and women between 24 and 32 years of age who were enrolled in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health).
The findings differ from those of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which reported high blood pressure in 4 percent of adults 20 to 39 years of age.
The Add Health study defined high blood pressure (hypertension) as 140/90 millimeters of mercury or greater. High blood pressure is a serious condition that can lead to coronary heart disease (also called coronary artery disease), heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, and other health problems.
For the analysis, all 15,701 respondents to the most recent Add Health interview were asked whether they had been told by a health care professional that they had high blood pressure. After the interview, respondents remained seated for five minutes and study technicians took three readings of their blood pressure.
It was found that high blood pressure was more prevalent among the Add Health respondents (19 percent) than in the NHANES respondents (4 percent). The study authors noted, however, that the proportion of respondents who reported they had been told by a health care provider that they had high blood pressure was similar: 11 percent for Add Health and 9 percent for NHANES.
The study authors wrote that many young people are unaware that they have high blood pressure. In such screenings of a large number of participants, it is expected that more participants would be found to have high blood pressure upon examination than would report that they had high blood pressure in the past.
The Add Health survey results fit this expected pattern, with 11 percent saying they had earlier been told they had high blood pressure, and 19 percent later having been found to have high blood pressure upon examination.
The findings have been published online in Epidemiology.