For most young adults, your teenage years are just behind you and the feeling of invincibility still lingers. But as a new phase of life begins, your body continues to change, and new issues begin to appear. One such issue can be high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.
Hypertension most prevalently affects older adults, but that doesn’t mean young adults are immune to it. And while it is a relatively common disease, it’s also one that’s preventable. But how exactly do you get hypertension in the first place? How do you treat it, and how can you prevent it? Keep reading.
You know that velcro pad that slowly squeezes your arm until it feels like it’s about to pop? That’s a blood pressure monitor. You’ve probably had your blood pressure measured when you’ve gone to the doctor and maybe you’ve tried a machine at your local pharmacy. If you take a reading and notice your blood pressure is too high, that’s the primary sign of hypertension.
To 100% confirm a diagnosis, you should talk to a medical professional. A doctor can assess your risk, create a wellness plan, and prescribe medication, if needed. If seeing a doctor in person is inconvenient, expensive, or troublesome for you, consider seeing an online doctor instead. They can provide the same care and information.
In general, telehealth is faster, easier, cheaper, and just as effective as seeing a doctor in person. You may need to measure your blood pressure at home or at a pharmacy. After getting a clear reading and talking with a doctor about it, discuss the next steps in your wellness plan.
If you do receive a diagnosis, it might be concerning, but your first step is to understand what hypertension is. Quite simply, hypertension is high blood pressure. Blood pressure is measured as a fraction. The number shown at the top is systolic pressure. This measures the pressure of the blood in your arteries as the heart beats. The other number measures diastolic pressure, which is the pressure of the blood in your arteries between heartbeats.
The measurement is shown in millimeters (mm) of mercury (Hg) or mmHg. A healthy blood pressure reading for adults is less than 120 / 80 mmHg. A reading of 120-129 / 80 mmHg is elevated, and a reading of 130-139 / 80-89 mmHg is officially classified as hypertension. 140-180 / 90-120 mmHg describes the range of stage 2 hypertension, and 180+ / 120+ mmHg is a hypertensive crisis.
If you have high blood pressure as an adolescent or young adult, it may signal an increased risk of danger as an older adult. So monitoring your health is more important these days than ever.
Unchecked hypertension often leads to a hypertensive crisis, wherein your body cannot pump blood effectively. Think: heart attack, stroke, and long-term damage to blood vessels and organs, including your heart, your brain, eyes and kidneys. So if you do have hypertension, it’s time to treat it. As of now, there are no over-the-counter medications to treat hypertension. So, finding a doctor to help treat you is incredibly important.
Unfortunately, many hypertension prescriptions do have side effects. These side effects can vary wildly depending on your individual condition. For example, a pregnant woman will need entirely different medication than someone who has asthma. If you’re African American you may also need different medication, as some don’t work as effectively. Thankfully, if you experience depression, or are at risk of experiencing it, there is some good news.
A long-held medical assumption is that blood pressure medication can have adverse effects on depression. However, recent evidence suggests that some hypertension medications are associated with a lower risk of depression. Again, your doctor will help you navigate and address your individual needs, so seek one out as soon as possible. If you are transparent about your ailments, your doctor can more effectively decide what treatment is best for you.
If you’ve yet to receive a diagnosis, the best way to address hypertension is to adopt a preventative attitude. There are many ways to reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure. What’s great is that they all directly contribute to your overall well-being and healthy aging. The three main pillars of physical health are diet, exercise, and sleep.
Healthy eating is important for every facet of your bodily health. But eating more citrus, fatty fish, and seeds will do wonders for your heart and blood vessels. Oranges, grapefruit, and lemons in particular are especially healthy. Eat fish like salmon that are rich in omega-3 fats. Seeds have many nutrients that have a relaxing effect on blood vessels.
Exercise is great for the body in many ways, but you want to be careful about causing your blood pressure to spike. Weightlifting can be dangerous for this reason. Instead, focus on cardio exercises like walking, jogging, or cycling. You can ease into and out of them with more control.
Finally, make sure to get enough sleep. While eight hours a night is ideal, make sure you get at least more than six. To ensure you get a good night’s rest, turn off all screens and electronics at least an hour before bed. This will allow your mind time to wind down and relax.
Prioritize Your Health
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can affect anyone. As a young person, it’s important to take proactive steps for healthy aging. If you think you may have or be developing hypertension, consult a doctor immediately. Whether in person or online, a doctor will help guide you toward health.