High blood pressure is generally thought to affect older people, not young Americans between the ages of 24 and 32. But a new study finds that 1 in 5 Americans may in fact have hypertension, suggesting that the “silent killer” may slowly be creeping into the lives of Generation Y.
The prevalence of high blood pressure among young adults remains a topic of great debate. Some believe the condition isn’t widespread, whereas others believe that the number of affected individuals is on the rise. A recent Reuters article outlines two studies that found wildly diverging incidence rates (a federal government study found just 4 percent may have hypertension) among young adults.
Both studies share one common conclusion: that many young adults are unaware of their own risk for hypertension.
Why are we now seeing this dangerous condition in more young people? According to Medical News Today, there are different causes of hypertension, including genetic predisposition, high levels of alcohol and sodium consumption and stress. One of the leading causes of heightened blood pressure in young adults today, however, is childhood obesity.
Why Does Obesity Lead to Hypertension?
Obese children are at much higher risk for hypertension than children maintaining a healthy weight because the heart needs to work much harder to pump blood into the arteries and circulatory system, according to KidsHealth. Excess weight causes the heart to operate at a much higher level of activity, resulting in elevated blood pressure.
The Importance of Creating Healthy Lifestyles in Children
Like many of my fellow Gen-Y members, I find it unfathomable that I could ever be at risk for any type of health problem. We are invincible at this age, right?
While this fearless attitude may be useful when dealing with certain life obstacles, it is not always conducive to making healthy lifestyle choices. Some of the behaviors that can lower obesity and hypertension levels include:
- Limiting sodium and alcohol intake
- Not using tobacco products
There is a reason why hypertension is called “the silent killer.” The health risks include, but are not limited to, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, heart attack and stroke. By learning to live a healthier lifestyle during childhood, the risk of hypertension and other health problems during adulthood is greatly minimized.