HCN News & Notes

Young Adults Fall Behind in Treatment, Control of High Blood Pressure

DALLAS — Young adults, particularly men, lag behind middle-aged and older adults in awareness and treatment of high blood pressure, putting this population at an increased risk for heart attack and stroke, according to new research in the American Heart Assoc. (AHA) journal Hypertension.

High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for heart attack and stroke and is also a significant public health burden, costing the U.S. about $110 billion in direct and indirect costs in 2015, according to American Heart Assoc. estimates. AHA guidelines define blood pressure as normal at less than 120/80 and high blood pressure as 140/90 or above.

“While hypertension awareness, treatment, and control have improved overall since the early 2000s, all three remain worse in young adults — those aged 18-39,” said senior study author Dr. Andrew Moran, an assistant professor at Columbia University Medical Center in New York.

The study, based on 1999-2014 data taken from more than 41,000 people who participated in eight national health surveys, examined the prevalence and management of high blood pressure among adults. Among the researchers’ key findings:

• Only half of the 6.7 million young adults with high blood pressure in 2013-14 received treatment, and only 40{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} got their blood pressure under control;

• Among young men, rates of awareness, treatment, and control were lower compared to young women (68.4{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} versus 86{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} for awareness, 43.7{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} versus 61.3{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} for treatment, and 33.7{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} versus 51.8{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} for control); and

• Nearly three-quarters of young adults who had high blood pressure were obese, compared with 57{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of middle-aged adults and 42{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of older adults, suggesting that young adults with high blood pressure are more than twice as likely to be obese.

Researchers noted that young women are more likely to have their blood pressure checked due to more frequent healthcare visits like gynecological exams or prenatal care.

“Our study identified shortfalls in high-blood-pressure screening and management among young adults and especially young adult males,” said lead study author Yiyi Zhang, associate research scientist at Columbia University Medical Center. “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.”