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Poorer, less educated prone to hypertension

July 2011

Poorer, less educated prone to hypertension

Young adults with low incomes and less education have more chances of developing high blood pressure.

In the United States, nearly one in five young adults 24 to 32 years old has high blood pressure.

To understand the reasons, researchers examined data from more 15,000 young adults participating in the 2008 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. The rates of obesity and high blood pressure in this young adult population were striking, and the findings provide a clearer picture of who appears to be at highest risk. Although nearly 20 percent of young adults had high blood pressure, only 11 percent had been told that by a doctor. Those with low education and income tended to be more overweight and exercised less, and in turn had higher blood pressure.

But it wasn't all good news for people with higher education and incomes. Young adults with higher income and education tended to have higher alcohol intake, which is strongly related to elevated blood pressure.

Programmes encouraging weight loss and exercise to reduce resting heart rate could reduce the effects of low income and less education among young adults, and these benefits would extend into middle and older adulthood. Also, people in this age group should stop smoking, drink no more than two servings of alcohol per day, exercise regularly and get in the habit of monitoring their blood pressure.

Routine monitoring of blood pressure and lifestyle changes like exercise and weight loss should begin at a young age.

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