Young adults, especially men, struggle to control hypertension

Men aged 18 to 39 lag behind other populations in awareness and treatment of high blood pressure, putting them at increased risk for MI and stroke, according to research published in Hypertension.

As a whole, young adults trail middle-aged and older adults in these areas of hypertension management, according to the study, but men are particularly behind.

Based on national health survey data from more than 41,000 people taken from 1999 to 2014, only half of the 6.7 million young adults with high blood pressure in 2013-14 received treatment and only 40 percent got their blood pressure under control. In addition, young men had lower rates of awareness, treatment and control when compared to young women (68.4 percent versus 86 percent for awareness; 43.7 percent versus 61.3 percent for treatment, and 33.7 percent vs. 51.8 percent for control).

The American Heart Association outlines normal blood pressure as less than 120/80 and high blood pressure as 140/90 or above. According to the study, 33.6 percent of young men fall between those readings—an area defined as prehypertension. In contrast, 12.8 percent of young women are in this range, which is likely to develop into high blood pressure unless steps are taken to control it.

“Our study identified shortfalls in high blood pressure screening and management among young adults and especially young adult males,” lead study author Yiyi Zhang, PhD, associate research scientist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, said in a statement. “The first step for young adults is to have their blood pressure measured, whether in a doctor’s office, pharmacy or other place in their community. Young adults with consistently high blood pressure need a link to clinical care to verify the diagnosis and receive regular monitoring and possibly treatment.”