Research conducted by the University of North Carolina has shown that as many as one in five adults between the ages of 24 and 32 have high blood pressure.
The research involved analysing data on over 14,000 women and men from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health which was funded by the National Institutes of Health. The results, which were published in the scientific journal Epidemiology, showed that 19% of those studied had high blood pressure. In addition, only half of those with the condition were aware that that was the case.
Dr Kathleen Mullan Harris, one of the co-authors of the study, was quoted on WebMD.com, calling this a “sleeping epidemic”. She theorised that the surprising figure was due to the “sedentary behavior” associated with the modern lifestyle, for example poor diet and a lack of exercise. The amount of fast food consume is constantly increasing, and fast food can include high sodium levels, which is a risk factor for high blood pressure.
The results are particularly surprising because they appear to contradict another study on hypertension, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which found that just 4% of people in a similar age group had high blood pressure. This is despite the fact that both of the studies had the same definition of hypertension (140/90 mmHg or more).
The reason for the discrepancy has not yet been explained. It is likely that further research will need to take place to fully establish which figure is more correct, though Dr Harris expects the true figure to be “probably somewhere in between these two estimates”.