Bengaluru: With rapid urbanization and poor lifestyles, there has been a sharp increase in the incidence of high blood pressure in young people, largely contributing to the burden of chronic diseases in the country. According to a study by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) in August 2019, one in four adults in the country has high blood pressure (BP). According to the fourth National Family Health Survey (NFHS), high BP is reported in 13.8% men and 8.8% women aged 15-49 and 15-54, respectively.
A neighborhood household survey found that younger participants (18-25 years) had hypertension with a prevalence of 12.1%. A young person with symptoms of recurring headaches, changes in vision, dizziness, nosebleeds and chest pain should be checked for BP as these indicate underlying hypertension. It is also important to have regular basic health checks, as high blood pressure is often quiet and remains unrecognized unless checked.
In the young population other than lifestyle factors, about 10% of people suffer from identifiable causes of high blood pressure called secondary hypertension. Excess body fat, poor diet of vegetables and fruits, excess salt intake, tobacco use and physical inactivity are the most important risk factors for high BP. Kidney disease, hormonal imbalance, drug use and alcohol consumption can also cause high BP. In a young person with high BP, it is necessary to assess for these secondary causes.
Often an unrecognizable contributor to high blood pressure in young people is "Obstructive Sleep Apnea" (OSA), which often occurs in obese but sometimes non-obese individuals. Treating OSA helps control blood pressure.
Dr. Srekagan B. Fetiti, senior consultant and head of interventional cardiology, Sakra World Hospital, said: "The treatment of high BP in young people also depends on lifestyle changes and medications with regular checkups. Often there is much resistance in young hypertensives when taking medication. They should be educated about the dangers of non-compliance with the long-term consequences of high blood pressure which are very disabled and difficult to treat. Fortunately, we have a wide range of blood pressure medications all of which are mostly safe or have reversible side effects. "