Hypertension at young age can lead to cardiovascular diseases; optimism may help reduce the risk, say scientists
A recent study found a dose-response relationship between optimism and hypertension, which means the higher the optimism, the lower the risk of developing hypertension
As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), around 113 crore people are suffering from hypertension across the globe. Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, is a chronic condition that can result in irreversible damage to the blood vessels of the heart, brain and other vital organs. It is a condition that not only affects older adults but also the younger population. Recent research, published by the Cambridge University Press, showed that people with hypertension at a young age may suffer from cardiovascular diseases at a later stage in their livees.
High blood pressure in young adults
The scientists included seventeen observational cohort studies which analysed around 45 lakh young adults who were followed-up with for about 14.7 years. The young adults belonged to the age group of 18 to 45 years when the study began.
The upper limit of blood pressure is called the systolic blood pressure, which is the amount of pressure exerted by blood is against the walls of the arteries when the heart beats. The lower limit of blood pressure is called the diastolic blood pressure, which is the amount of pressure exerted on the walls of the arteries when the heart is at rest between two heartbeats.
There were five criteria for measuring systolic and diastolic blood pressure:
- Optimal blood pressure, where the systolic blood pressure should be less than 120 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure less than 80 mm Hg
- Normal blood pressure with systolic BP 120 to 129 and diastolic BP 80 to 84 mm Hg
- High normal blood pressure with systolic BP 130 to 139 and diastolic BP 85 to 89 mm Hg
- Grade 1 hypertension with systolic BP 140-159 and diastolic BP 90 to 99 mm Hg
- Grade 2 hypertension with systolic BP more than or equal to 160 and diastolic BP more than or equal to100 mm Hg.
The results of the study showed that young adults with normal blood pressure were at an increased risk of suffering from cardiovascular events such as coronary heart disease and stroke, compared to people with optimal blood pressure. Moreover, the risk kept on increasing with the increase in blood pressure.
The scientists concluded that adults with high blood pressure at a young age are at risk of suffering from potentially fatal cardiovascular diseases later in life.
Optimism and risk of incident hypertension
Another study published in the journal Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences in 2020 stated that being optimistic may help in reducing the risk of hypertension.
In this study, the scientists from Cambridge included 1,03,486 hypertension-free US Army active-duty soldiers in the age group of 17 to 65 and assessed their optimism, sociodemographic characteristics (such as their age, sex, education, migration background and ethnicity, religious affiliation, marital status) and health conditions both physical and mental with the help of electronic health records and health assessments.
On assessing these people from 2010 to 2014, around 15,052 cases of incident hypertension cases were reported. Incident hypertension is the first occurrence of systolic blood pressure at or above 140 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure at or above 90 mm Hg in a person already taking antihypertensive medication.
However, scientists noticed that the people who were highly optimistic were at a 22 percent reduced risk of developing hypertension. The scientists further found a dose-response relationship, which means higher the optimism, lower the risk of developing hypertension.
For more information, read our article on High blood pressure.
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