When you are in your 20s or 30s, high blood pressure is the last thing that comes to your mind. At the end of the day you are still young and this is not something you should worry about, right? Not exactly! Yes, it’s true, high blood pressure is more common in older people BUT, did you know that young people can get high blood pressure too?
It’s estimated that one in ten women in their 20s and just over one in ten men aged 25-34 years are affected.
While you shouldn’t worry about high blood pressure too much (especially if you are young), there are certain things you should be aware of. Consumer health website, Treato has come up with this handy guide to help you understand all the facts:
What is high blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the measure of blood flow through a person’s arteries. When someone is diagnosed with high blood pressure, this means that their blood pressure levels consistently surpass the recommended levels.
What is normal blood pressure?
Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg). An ideal blood pressure reading is 120/80mmHg. The top number (120) represents systolic pressure, the amount of pressure in the arteries when the heart contracts and the bottom number (80) represents diastolic pressure, the pressure when the heart is between beats. Any reading between 90/60mmHg and 130/80mmHg is considered normal. A reading of 140/90mmHg or above is considered high.
Knowing if you have high blood pressure is vital because the condition is linked to a range of serious health complications, including angina (chest pain), stroke, heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease. Read on to learn more important information about high blood pressure.
Symptoms and Risk Factors
High blood pressure typically does not cause any noticeable symptoms. For this reason, many people with high blood pressure are unaware that they have it. In some cases, people with high blood pressure report experiencing headaches or vision. The only way to know for certain if you have high blood pressure is to undergo a test.
The vast majority of the time, the exact cause of high blood pressure is not known. That said, there a number of risk factors that increase a person’s chances of having high blood pressure. These include:
- Age (the risk increases as you get older)
- Weight (overweight or obese people are more likely to have high blood pressure)
- Fitness (a sedentary lifestyle is often linked with high blood pressure)
- Family history
- African, Caribbean or South Asian origin
- A high-sodium diet
- Excessive alcohol consumption
Underlying medical conditions, including diabetes, kidney disease, and certain hormonal conditions, can also contribute to high blood pressure.
Opinions vary on how often a person should have their blood pressure checked. It’s recommended that people over 40 have their blood pressure checked every five years at least. Younger adults can follow this same recommendation, or choose to have a blood pressure test any time they’re worried about their blood pressure.
You can have your blood pressure checked by a GP, practice nurse, or even a pharmacist. The test itself is simple and only takes a few minutes. The device used to test blood pressure is called a sphygmomanometer. Most sphygmomanometers used today have sensors and a digital display. The results of the test are available as soon as the test has finished.
As explained above, a blood pressure reading of 140/90mmHg and above is considered high. However, one high reading does not mean you have high blood pressure. It’s possible that stress, anxiety or some other factor caused your blood pressure to momentarily spike.
If you have a high blood pressure reading, your GP will probably recommend that you monitor your blood pressure at home to see if your blood pressure is consistently high. In this case, you’ll be given either a blood pressure monitoring device to wear for a 24-hour period, or a kit that allows you to measure your blood pressure at different points in the day.
If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, your GP will likely advise you to make certain lifestyle changes such as adopting a healthier diet and regular fitness routine, losing weight, reducing alcohol consumption and quitting smoking. There are also a number of medicines for treating high blood pressure, ranging from drugs called ACE inhibitors to beta-blockers.