The new study found hypertension more common in men, blacks, and people who were overweight and of low socioeconomic status. Participants with annul incomes below $25,000 and no college education were twice as likely to have early prehypertension as those with annual incomes of more than $100,000 and a postgraduate education.
Drug treatment isn't a real option for prehypertension in young people, Pletcher said. "We don't have evidence that treating prehypertension in young adulthood prevents cardiovascular disease, so we don't recommend it," he said.
But physicians should pay attention to borderline high blood pressure in young people, and should recommend preventive measures if it is found, Pletcher said.
"We recommend lifestyle modifications, more exercise, better diet, and so on, to improve cardiovascular health," he said.
Devereux agreed. "Exercise, better diet, getting away from smoking, avoiding things which can be damaging to the arteries," he advised.
Learn more about high blood pressure and prehypertension from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Mark J. Pletcher, M.D., assistant professor, epidemiology, biostatistics and medicine, University of California, San Francisco; Richard B. Devereux, M.D., professor, medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York City; July 15, 2008, Annals of Internal Medicine
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