What Young Adults Need to Know About High Blood Pressure

*Blog originally posted on London Doctors Clinic website*

Your blood pressure is one of the most important functions of your body. It’s responsible for carrying blood to and from your heart, so it needs to remain consistent.

While most young adults are lucky enough to have a cardiovascular system which manages their needs quite well, it’s not uncommon for a poor diet or other factors to cause levels to rise. In this guide, we’ll look at how you can best manage your blood pressure, as well as what medical advice and support is offered to anyone suffering.

High Blood Pressure Facts and Figures

Having high blood pressure isn’t comfortable, but neither is it uncommon. Let’s take a closer look at how the numbers tally up for people with hypertension across the world.

 Hypertension statistics in 2021

Hypertension is the official name given to the condition of high blood pressure. If this is something you’ve been recently diagnosed with, don’t worry – you’re definitely not alone.

In fact, it’s estimated as many as 24% of people in the UK experience some kind of high blood pressure – that’s almost 1 in 4 people. And this number is rising all the time. The latest survey report taken by the NHS highlighted this, with figures showing:

30% of men had hypertension with 14% being untreated.

25% of women had hypertension with 11% being untreated.

The report also found that it was men aged 55-64 who let hypertension go untreated. Nearly 21% of those with the condition did nothing to combat it, while only 13% of women in that range let their high blood pressure go unchecked.

That said, things are a lot better than where we were at the turn of the century. Back in 2003, 29% of women and 32% of all men in the UK were diagnosed. While they’re somewhat similar numbers to the latest findings, they do at least imply an effective control and management of the situation.

And that’s good news for the NHS. It’s estimated that it costs them as much as £2bn a year to care for patients with high blood pressure. Worryingly though, reports also suggest as many as 5.5 million people in the UK may be living with an undiagnosed form of the condition.

Blood Pressure UK go on to highlight some of the key statistics surrounding hypertension and its effect on people across the UK:

• High blood pressure accounts for 12% of GP appointments

• The NHS would save up to £850m if the average national blood pressure was reduced by just 5mmHg (millimetres of mercury)

• A 2mmgHg rise makes you 7% more likely to die of heart disease and 10% more likely to die of a stroke

• 50-80% of people with hypertension do not take their prescribed medicine

While numbers will always continue to fluctuate, the prevalence of hypertension across the UK is a factor which will never completely go away.

High blood pressure and COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on everyone’s health. And when it comes to a condition like hypertension, that could play a factor in how you’re able to manage your blood pressure.

Sadly, having a condition like hypertension does lead to an increased risk of dying from COVID-19 – although in more positive news, it is less prevalent than a number of other common underlying health conditions. The BBC reported on the number of people who died with health problems in the first Wuhan wave of the virus, finding:

10.5% had cardiovascular problems.

7.5% had diabetes.

6.2% had respiratory disease.

6% had hypertension.

WebMD would go on to highlight the risk factors for hypertension sufferers further, stating that between 30-50% of all patients hospitalised in China and the USA had high blood pressure. In Italy, as many as 76% of people who died of the virus had hypertension.

If you’re someone who’s worried about managing your blood pressure while balancing the risks of COVID-19, you’re not alone. Here are some handy steps to keep in mind for anyone who’s struggling:

Keep taking medication

At the outbreak of the pandemic, reports claimed that medications like ACE inhibitors and ARBs increased the risk of contracting COVID-19. These suggestions were later proven to be false, with some studies even finding they may be protective.

It’s vital if you’ve been prescribed any dosage of medication for hypertension that you continue to take it. Failing to do so can put a huge strain on your physical health. Always talk to a doctor about any news stories you hear relating to medication usage and COVID-19.

Follow guidelines

Make sure to follow all government-sanctioned guidelines and regulations. If you feel uncomfortable leaving the house, it’s recommended you shield yourself. This might require you finding someone to take care of tasks like shopping for you.

Don’t be afraid to get medical help

Even if you’re experiencing issues which aren’t related to COVID-19, don’t be afraid to reach out to your GP or specialist. It’s noble to feel like you don’t want to waste their time with non-coronavirus issues, but your health is still important. If you notice anything amiss, get in touch.

Keep monitoring blood pressure

If you’re someone who regularly checks their own blood pressure, don’t stop now. It’s potentially more important than ever to make sure your numbers are in check.

We’re still finding out a lot about COVID-19 and its impact on the human body. It won’t be clear how much of an impact certain conditions had on infection, mortality and recovering rates until the disease is completely under control. For now, it’s best to do everything you can to protect yourself and lower the chances of infection.

The direct consequences of high blood pressure

Young people in particular may not really think about the long term damage a condition like hypertension can have on the body. It’s easy to pass it off as something to worry about later down the line, but many of your vital organs can be damaged if the condition is left untreated.

Identifying and Managing Blood Pressure

While it might not be something you’ve ever really considered before, it could be that your blood pressure has been slowly rising over time without you noticing. Hypertension is practically symptomless, making it very hard to spot.

Thankfully, there are steps you can take on your own to both identify and manage your blood pressure from home, without the need for medical assistance.

 Causes of high blood pressure

The best way to know how to avoid high blood pressure is to familiarise yourself with the primary causes and risk factors. While some of these will be medical conditions beyond your control, others are day-to-day habits which can easily be cut out.

 Medical conditions

Pre-existing conditions like sleep apnea, kidney, adrenal and thyroid disease are all major contributors to a rise in blood pressure levels. These will be harder to manage, but it’s not impossible.

 Being overweight

This is a far more controllable factor in most cases. The more you weigh, the more blood is required to be pumped throughout your body. And with a rise in blood itself, the force felt on your arteries will also increase. This leads directly to an increase in pressure.

 Alcohol and tobacco

While one cigarette or glass of wine won’t cause anything chronic, the continued regular consumption of alcohol and tobacco will often lead to a heightened chance of developing hypertension. This is particularly true for men.

 Family history

Although it is out of your control, educating yourself about your family’s history with high blood pressure can let you know if it’s something you need to keep an eye on. Being prepared for the condition later in life is a good way to battle it.


Sodium and potassium are key nutrients for finding a healthy balance in the pressure of your blood. Reducing salt intake and having a diet with enough potassium may help to bring down your blood pressure.

Once you understand what you’re looking for, it’s simpler to know what steps are best to take to reduce the risks of hypertension becoming a factor in your life.


Lowering your blood pressure at home

You’ll be pleased to know there are lots of ways a young adult can lower their own blood pressure. Most involve relatively basic lifestyle choices, which over time will completely transform your blood levels. Some of the best methods for combating hypertension include:

Exercise regularly

Becoming active on a regular basis can help to lower your blood pressure by as much as 4-9mmHg on average. Something like 150 minutes a week (just over 20 minutes a day) can be incredibly beneficial. Some of the most common types of exercise which can help include the likes of jogging, cycling, walking, swimming and dancing.

Change your diet

Wholesale dietary changes can play a huge part in bringing your blood pressure under control. Possibly the simplest fix is reducing the amount of salt (sodium) you’re consuming. This is easily enough done, you just need to:

Read food labels

Don’t add any salt to your food

Eat less processed foods

Use spice alternatives to salt

It’s also worth noting you probably shouldn’t cut out all salt overnight. This needs to be a change you ease yourself into, or else your body might react poorly to the sudden change in sodium levels.

Cut out caffeine

Caffeine (most commonly found in drinks like coffee and energy drinks) isn’t always linked to hypertension, but it can aggravate your condition if you’re a chronic sufferer. Cut back on any drinks which are high in the stimulant.

Work on your mental health

Stress is a contributing factor to spikes in your blood pressure. Only by working on your mental health can you begin to reduce the impact that this hidden trigger can have on your body. Try to identify the root of your stressful thoughts, while also working on practices which alleviate any symptoms – for example, meditation.


Dietary and nutritional changes

Arguably the most important factor for lowering hypertension is managing what you eat and drink. As the fuel for our body, the food we consume plays a major role in factors like blood pressure. We’ve already looked at tackling the dangers of excess sodium, but there are other steps for anyone concerned about their blood pressure.

If you want to lower yours, think about working the following changes into your culinary routine:

 Have potassium in your diet

Potassium is a great source of nutrition because of the impact it has on salt in the body. The nutrient will not only help to rid you of any excess sodium, but also relaxes your blood vessels in the process. Healthy foods like bananas, spinach, oranges and broccoli are all packed full of potassium.

 Try the DASH diet

DASH stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension”. It’s a vegetable, fruit and low-dairy focused diet, which provides a number of health benefits aside from just lowering your blood pressure. You can find a templated diet and work off of it, making it easy to follow and stick to.

 Try the Mediterranean diet

A similar, albeit slightly different approach is the Mediterranean diet. With this one, you’re encouraged to eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish and olive oil, with far fewer meats and cheeses. Refined bread is also cut out.

 Cut back on treats

Foods with limited nutritional value (such as crisps, sweets, chocolate and any form of alcohol) can all heighten our blood pressure. Cutting back, or even totally eliminating these altogether, will have a big impact on the chances of developing hypertension, as well as the effectiveness of managing it.

Naturally, it won’t be an overnight fix. Your dietary changes will begin to take effect over time. And the earlier in life you start to think about managing your blood pressure levels, the more effective the changes to what you eat will be further down the line.

To find out more about Blood Pressure and to view the original blog in it’s entirety, visit the London Doctors Clinic website!

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