The Alarming Rise of Hypertension Among Young Adults in India
As bustling city life makes our young population race against time, are they also racing against good health?
For the longest time, diabetes has been called the 'silent killer,' but over the years, one other condition — hypertension — is known to be sharing this badge with the former. Also, for the longest time, hypertension was considered an issue mostly the elderly grappled with. But this silent killer is now more prevalent among younger demographics in India and worldwide. In the past few decades, hypertension among young adults (18-24 years) has emerged as a severe issue for public health worldwide.
Read on to learn more about the rise of hypertension among India's youth.
What is hypertension, and what triggers it in young adults?
Hypertension is essentially high blood pressure, which may not show symptoms at onset, thus earning itself the moniker of a 'silent killer.'
A healthy individual's blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg, but today's fast-paced lives and consequent lifestyle changes have led to an alarming rise in hypertension among young adults in India. Every fourth individual in the country above 18 years is living with this ailment, most unaware of their condition. Our young corporate workforce and college students spend most of their time on devices. Additionally, the cost of living is always on the rise; there is fierce competition for academic success and to rise the corporate ladder. This never-ending rat race is detrimental to mental and physical well-being, causing high blood pressure among the youth.
And then there are the actual triggers, such as genetics, unhealthy dietary habits (including excessive smoking, drinking, and substance abuse), increased stress, work-life imbalance, sedentary jobs, and little to no exercise. Most of these factors multiplied manifold during the pandemic, as most of us were confined to our homes.
Unfortunately, ignorance about the repercussions of high blood pressure and sheer disregard for one's health only add to these woes. Thus, young adults and teenagers must regularly check their blood pressure, especially those with a family history of hypertension.
Symptoms to watch out for
Hypertension lives up to its 'silent killer' title — it sneaks up on you without any symptoms early on, making it difficult to catch it well in time. But someone who has had this ailment for quite some time could witness
1. Persistent headaches
2. Blurred vision
4. Chest discomfort
5. Unexplained fatigue
7. Pulsations in the neck or head
More severe symptoms include nosebleeds and shortness of breath. It is vital for young adults not to dismiss these as mere signs of stress or overwork and get medical attention at the earliest. Hypertension left unattended in early, and mid-twenties can lead to heart ailments and kidney problems in middle age.
Throwing in some hard facts
Did you know pre-hypertension is more prevalent than full-blown hypertension among young adults? It is a significant antecedent to hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, renal problems, and kidney failure. Early diagnosis and lifestyle adjustments can decrease the severity of the condition, but not always effectively.
Treating and managing hypertension
Prevention is better than cure, but it isn't all that daunting a task if one does come to curing and managing hypertension. Discipline and dedication can go a long way in keeping this condition at bay and even managing it:
1. Eat a well-balanced diet that's low in salt
2. Exercise regularly
3. Limit alcohol intake
4. Quit smoking
5. Manage stress
6. Maintain a healthy weight
7. Take medications properly
8. Get regular health check-ups done
Non-communicable diseases, also known as lifestyle diseases, have become one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Hypertension is one such ailment that is invisible, silent, and incredibly threatening to a person's overall health.
In India, more than 1 in 10 younger adults have hypertension. Only half of them know it, and only one-fifth seek treatment. Proof enough why it is essential to raise awareness about this condition, its implications, preventive and corrective measures, and the need for holistic, point-of-care management of the state.