Roughly 19 percent of young adults may have high blood pressure, according to an analysis of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), which is supported by the National Institutes of Health.
The researchers took blood pressure readings of more than 14,000 men and women between 24 and 32 years of age who were enrolled in the long-running study.
The analysis was conducted by Kathleen Mullan Harris, Ph.D., principal investigator of the study, and colleagues at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The study's first author was Quynh C. Nguyen, of the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Public Health.
The findings were published online in Epidemiology.
The findings differ from those of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which reported high blood pressure in 4 percent of adults 20 to 39 years of age.
The study authors were unable to pinpoint any reasons for the difference between the two studies.
"The Add Health analysis raises interesting questions," said Steven Hirschfeld, Associate Director for Clinical Research for the NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which provides major funding for the study. "Investigations into the reasons underlying the reported differences between the Add Health and NHANES findings will no doubt yield additional insight into the measurement of high blood pressure in the young adult population."
The Add Health study defined high blood pressure (hypertension) as 140/90 millimeters of mercury or greater. High blood pressure is a serious condition that can lead to coronary heart disease (also called coronary artery disease), heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, and other health problems.
Along with funding from the NICHD, the Add Health study also receives funding from 23 other federal agencies and private organizations.
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NIH/National Institute of Child Health and Human Development