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Not Just a Middle-Aged Problem: I’m 27 and Have High Blood Pressure

Not Just a Middle-Aged Problem: I’m 27 and Have High Blood Pressure

It was a normal check up with my primary care physician- or so I thought. I was overdue for my annual visit, but I told myself I didn’t have anything to worry about. I’m a 27-year-old with a semi-healthy diet, average weight and an exercise routine of three times a week. So, when it came time for the nurse to check my blood pressure, I didn’t even glance at the monitor. It wasn’t until she re-cuffed my arm for a third time that I started to pay attention to the rising numbers on the screen - 136/92.

It wasn’t long before my doctor was in the room, equally confused by my numbers. We started to develop theories. I was on the mend from a cold and because I had been taking cold medications, we both decided that must be the culprit. I was told to come back in two weeks to check my blood pressure again.

I confidently returned to the physician’s office two weeks later and eagerly presented my arm to the nurse. To our surprise the numbers had not moved. That’s when I learned all about hypertension, or high blood pressure, as it’s commonly called. Of course, I had heard about it from family members and friends, but it wasn’t on my radar at 27 years old.

Hypertension means that there’s abnormally high blood pressure in the arteries. These arteries are the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Blood pressure is considered high when the measurement is 130/80 mmHg or greater.

Though hypertension is typically found in adults 35 and older, it’s not uncommon to be found in younger adults as well. In fact, the condition usually has no symptoms, which is why some in the medical field have dubbed it “the silent killer.” Hypertension is a major risk factor for serious health issues such as artery disease, stroke, kidney failure.

Certain conditions and lifestyles can increase your chances of high blood pressure such as obesity, tobacco use, excessive alcohol or stress. Since I don’t have any of the normal conditions that would make me prone to hypertension, my doctor landed on a different cause – genetics. High blood pressure can run in your family making you more susceptible to it, and in my case runs on both my maternal and paternal sides.

I’m currently taking all the recommended steps to manage my high blood pressure, including prescription medication, reducing my sodium intake and eating an even healthier diet than I was before. Though my diagnosis was a surprise, I’m so glad I did not put off my primary care visit before it was too late. If it’s been a while since your last doctor’s visit, I urge you to schedule one and be proactive about your health.

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