Medical study: high blood pressure on the rise, especially in young people

Posted at 6:11 PM, Sep 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-18 18:11:21-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Doctors are seeing concerning trends in young people with high blood pressure. A new report from the Journal of the American Medical Association details a 10% increase in high blood pressure nationwide in 2017, the most recent year data was available.

Doctors in West Michigan say the study's numbers reflect what they're seeing in patient rooms.

"If you look at the trends overall, it shows us that blood pressure is going up. Bad cholesterol is going up. Diabetes is going up. Most of that follows trends with people being overweight and obese," said Dr. Thomas Boyden, cardiologist with Spectrum Health.

As an adult cardiologist, patients Dr. Boyden sees are 18+. In many cases, he sees teenagers and those in their early 20's with hypertension or diagnosed with other complications like pre-diabetes.

"The longer you live with these chronic conditions, the more likely it is that you are going to have complications of those things where you have heart disease or stroke. So it’s incredibly concerning as a cardiologist, as a doctor, seeing young people with these chronic medical conditions at these young ages," said Dr. Boyden. "Prior to these trends, we weren’t seeing in young people."

Dr. Boyden says some of the increase from the study can be attributed to a change in medical guidelines, which added additional people to the patient population who now fall under the 'hypertensive category.' Even with that taken into consideration, there is still a significant increase in patients with high blood pressure with doctors trying to convince patients to change their lifestyle to avoid larger complications like stroke, heart failure and heart disease.

Dr. Boyden recommends simple changes such as a 30 minute walk per day and eating less processed foods, which could improve cardiovascular health by 30%. For reference, a healthy blood pressure is considered less than 120 over 80.