About one in five young adults may have high blood pressure, a new study suggests, but many of them appear unaware of it. Such are the results of the latest attempt to clarify just how many far-from-elderly Americans are putting their long-term health at risk via hypertension.
Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill analyzed blood pressure data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, called Add Health, and compared it with data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, commonly referred to as NHANES. They focused specifically on the information about adults age 24 to 32.
They found significantly different rates of hypertension between the two studies, but similar rates of diagnosed hypertension. Add Health data suggested that 19% of participants had high blood pressure but that only 11% had been told of their condition. NHANES data suggested that 4% had high blood pressure and that 9% had been told they had the condition.
Even the researchers seem at a loss to explain the discrepancy. “We really don’t know for sure,” said sociologist and lead author Kathleen Mullan Harris in a phone interview. “We looked at differences that we thought would probably would play a role, differences in the populations, differences in the methods we used to measure. None of those accounted for the gap.”