Bengaluru: With rapid urbanisation and poor lifestyle, there has been a steep increase in the incidence of high blood pressure among youngsters, and it is contributing majorly to chronic disease burden in the country. According to a study by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in August 2019, one in four adults in the country has high blood pressure (BP). As per the Fourth National Family Health Survey (NFHS), high BP was reported in 13.8% men and 8.8% women aged 15-49 and 15-54 years respectively.
The district level household survey revealed that among the younger participants (18-25 years) hypertension was common with a prevalence of 12.1%. A young individual with symptoms of recurrent headaches, vision changes, dizziness, nosebleeds and chest pain should get BP checked as these indicate underlying hypertension. It is also important to undergo regular basic health checkups because high blood pressure is often silent and remains unrecognised unless checked.
In the young population other than lifestyle factors, about 10% of individuals are suffering from identifiable causes for high blood pressure which is called secondary hypertension. Excess body fat, poor dietary intake of vegetables and fruits, excess salt intake, tobacco use and physical inactivity are the most important risk factors for high BP. Kidney diseases, hormonal imbalance, usage of drugs and consumption of alcohol too can cause high BP. In a young person with high BP, it is necessary to evaluate him/her for these secondary causes.
An often unrecognised contributor to high blood pressure among youngsters is ‘Obstructive Sleep Apnea’ (OSA), which is often seen among obese individuals but sometimes in non-obese individuals too. Treating OSA helps in controlling blood pressure.
Dr Sreekanth B. Shetty, Senior Consultant and Head of Interventional Cardiology, Sakra World Hospital, said, “The treatment of high BP in young also depends upon lifestyle changes and medication with regular check-ups. There is often a lot of resistance among young hypertensives to take medications. They need to educate themselves about the dangers of non-compliance with medications in terms of long-term consequences of high blood pressure which are very disabling and more difficult to treat. Fortunately, we have a wide array of blood pressure medications to choose from and they all are mostly safe or only have reversible side-effects".