High blood pressure in young adults likely to go undiagnosed

November 6, 2012

Adults 18-24 years old with high blood pressure were 28 percent less likely to be diagnosed during doctor visits than those 60 and older, according to findings presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2012.

"These young patients come to the clinic and their blood pressure is recorded," said Heather Johnson, M.D., lead researcher of the study. "They have , but there's no documentation of a diagnosis. We wanted to find out why."

Researchers examined of 13,593 men and women who were at least 18 years old. All had visited their doctor at least twice within the previous three years in an outpatient, non-urgent care setting, and had multiple elevated blood pressures that met guideline criteria for a diagnosis.

Yet, after four years of visiting their doctors and accounting for other factors:

  • 67 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds remained undiagnosed compared to 54 percent of people 60 and older.
  • 65 percent of 25- to 31-year-olds were undiagnosed.
  • 59 percent of 32- to 39-year-olds were still living with undiagnosed high blood pressure.
Furthermore, young adults were less likely to be diagnosed if they actively smoked and if they had a mild stage of hypertension, said Johnson, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison.

Conversely, a high blood pressure diagnosis was more likely for minorities, young adults with diabetes, severe high blood pressure, and who made more clinic visits to primary care and specialty providers.

Family practice physicians were less likely to diagnose high blood pressure than Internal Medicine physicians; however, female doctors were more likely to diagnose high blood pressure in young adults.

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for and stroke. While more prevalent in older Americans, about 29 percent of all U.S. adults have hypertension, according to statistics. About 11 percent of men and 7 percent of women 20-34 years old have high blood pressure.

"We know that once high blood pressure is diagnosed and young adults receive the treatment they need, they can achieve pretty high control rates," Johnson said. Because researchers examined patient records from a large academic group practice in the Midwest, some of the predictors may vary among different healthcare systems and geographic regions, Johnson said.

Nevertheless, multiple factors must change. "Patient factors play a role, provider factors play a role, along with the healthcare system," she said. "You can't blame one component. They all must work together to diagnose and manage high blood pressure in young patients."

Johnson said she hopes the findings will "guide both patient and provider to make elevated blood pressure one of the key things to focus on during the visit."

Explore further: Radical change in blood pressure diagnosis and treatment

Related Stories

Radical change in blood pressure diagnosis and treatment

August 24, 2011
The way blood pressure is diagnosed and treated is set to be revolutionised following new guidelines for the medical profession issued by NICE and developed in conjunction with the British Hypertension Society (BHS).

Relation of poor sleep quality to resistant hypertension

September 21, 2012
For people who already have high blood pressure, insomnia can have serious consequences, according to a new study presented at the American Heart Association's High Blood Pressure Research 2012 Scientific Sessions.

Patients citing 'high blood pressure' more than doubled the chance of getting new medication

September 28, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—A patient who cites hypertension as a reason for a doctor's visit is more than twice as likely to be prescribed a new medicine than a patient who doesn't speak up, according to a recent study by researchers ...

Yogurt consumption, blood pressure, and incident hypertension

September 19, 2012
Adding more yogurt to your diet without increasing the number of calories you eat may help lower your risk of high blood pressure, according to new research presented at the American Heart Association's High Blood Pressure ...

Low income, less education tied to high blood pressure in young adults

July 12, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Alarming new data regarding high rates of high blood pressure in young adults suggests those with less education and lower income are at greatest risk, according to researchers at Duke University Medical ...

Nearly 1 in 5 young adults has high blood pressure, study shows

May 25, 2011
The number of young adults in the United States with high blood pressure may be much higher than previously reported, according to a new study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Recommended for you

Could aggressive blood pressure treatments lead to kidney damage?

July 18, 2017
Aggressive combination treatments for high blood pressure that are intended to protect the kidneys may actually be damaging the organs, new research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine suggests.

Quantifying effectiveness of treatment for irregular heartbeat

July 17, 2017
In a small proof-of-concept study, researchers at Johns Hopkins report a complex mathematical method to measure electrical communications within the heart can successfully predict the effectiveness of catheter ablation, the ...

Concerns over side effects of statins stopping stroke survivors taking medication

July 17, 2017
Negative media coverage of the side effects associated with taking statins, and patients' own experiences of taking the drugs, are among the reasons cited by stroke survivors and their carers for stopping taking potentially ...

Study discovers anticoagulant drugs are being prescribed against safety advice

July 17, 2017
A study by researchers at the University of Birmingham has shown that GPs are prescribing anticoagulants to patients with an irregular heartbeat against official safety advice.

Protein may protect against heart attack

July 14, 2017
DDK3 could be used as a new therapy to stop the build-up of fatty material inside the arteries

Heart study finds faulty link between biomarkers and clinical outcomes

July 14, 2017
Surrogate endpoints (biomarkers), which are routinely used in clinical research to test new drugs, should not be trusted as the ultimate measure to approve new health interventions in cardiovascular medicine, according to ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.