Blood pressure in young adults

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INTRODUCTION Hypertension (HT) is a major cardiovascular risk factor. Elevated blood pressure (BP) in childhood predisposes to HT in adulthood. Epidemiological studies in young age-groups are scarce. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of HT in a population of university students aged between 18 and 25 years; to analyze the profile of HT in the presence of other risk factors; and to alert patients and physicians to the need to assess and control cardiovascular risk factors in young adults. METHODS We performed an observational, descriptive and cross-sectional study of a convenience sample of 402 university students, born between June 1, 1980 and May 24, 1988. Through a self-administered questionnaire and biometric measurements we recorded the following variables: BP, age, gender, smoking, regular medication, family history of HT, stress and body mass index. BP was determined by the mean of two measurements and classified according to the European Society of Cardiology guidelines. RESULTS In the study population 229 (57%) individuals were female and 173 (42%) male, mean age 21 +/- 2 years. The prevalence of HT was 24.9% (20.4% with isolated systolic HT) and 27.4% had high normal BP. Among males 43.9% had HT, while among females only 10.5% were hypertensive. There was a high prevalence of HT in overweight (50.8%) and obese (50.0%) subjects. Among those exposed to stress, 27.2% had isolated systolic HT. A trend for HT was also found in young women taking oral contraceptives and in students with hypertensive first-degree relatives. CONCLUSIONS The prevalence of HT and high normal BP in the study population of young adults was high. There was a statistically significant correlation between HT and male gender, HT and overweight and between isolated systolic HT and stress, confirming the existence of clusters of cardiovascular risk factors. Patients and their primary care physicians were alerted to the importance of assessing and controlling overall cardiovascular risk in young subjects.
Original languageUnknown
Pages (from-to)1495-508
JournalRevista Portuguesa de Cardiologia
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010

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