Young Black Americans at High Risk of Hypertension

MONDAY, Aug. 3, 2020 (HealthDay News) — High blood pressure is often seen as a condition of old age, but a new study finds that it’s common among young Americans — especially young Black adults.
The study, of 18- to 44-year-olds in the United States, found that high blood pressure was prevalent across all racial groups: Among both white and Mexican American participants, 22% had the condition.
But young Black adults were hardest-hit, with nearly one-third showing elevated blood pressure.
Compounding the problem, only a minority of young people were getting treatment. And few — no more than 15% — had the condition under “optimal control.”
“People often associate high blood pressure with older people — with their grandparents,” said Dr. Nieca Goldberg, a volunteer expert with the American Heart Association. “But younger people are not immune.”
In fact, there are many reasons they can be vulnerable to high blood pressure, according to Goldberg.
“These findings are not unexpected, given the rising rates of obesity in the U.S.,” she said. “Younger people also tend to eat a lot of fast food, which is high in sodium. And many aren’t getting enough exercise.”
As for the racial disparities, they mirror what past studies have found among middle-aged and older Americans.
“This shows us that racial differences are manifesting early in life,” said study leader Dr. Vibhu Parcha, a clinical research fellow at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Exactly why is not clear. But Parcha said it likely involves many factors — from poverty, to problems accessing health care or healthy foods, to racism-related stress.
And high blood pressure at young ages is particularly concerning, he said, because the consequences may appear earlier as well. They include such serious conditions as heart attack, stroke, heart failure and kidney disease.
Goldberg agreed that “if left undetected and untreated,” high blood pressure in young people can have dire effects.
Unfortunately, Parcha’s team found, few young adults in the study had their elevated blood pressure under good control: Between 10% and 15% of those with the condition had gotten their numbers below 130/80 mm Hg.

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