Hypertension in Young Adult

By Medically reviewed by Panel Perubatan Hello Doktor

Hypertension is known to be the disease of the elderly with an age-related risk that increases as we age. However, globally, there has been an increase in hypertension in children, adolescent and young adults due to increase in lifestyle risk factors. In the United State, 20% of the population age 18-30 studied in Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) was discovered to be hypertensive. Some of the underlying risk factors that may contribute to hypertension in young adult include:

Secondary hypertension

About 90 to 95% of cases are primary hypertension, which refers to high blood pressure for which no medical cause can be found. Secondary hypertension, which counts for the remaining 5 to 10% of cases are caused by other medical conditions that affect the kidneys, arteries, heart, or endocrine system.

In young adult, the possibility of secondary hypertension should be ruled out first if suspected. Secondary hypertension is reversible once the underlying cause is lifted. Causes of secondary hypertension in young adult include kidney disease, anatomical abnormality of the aorta, obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, COPD, hypo or hyperthyroidism. Young adult female may also have hypertension due to oral contraceptives intake.


Family history of hypertension increases the risk of having primary hypertension, including in young adult. For young adults with no known underlying medical cause and no lifestyle risk factors, genetic can be the only explanation available.


The increasing rate of obesity globally has also contributed to the increasing rate of hypertension among young adult. According to WHO, obesity rates have more than doubled since 1980, with 1 in 10 of the world’s adult population is now obese. The burden of hypertension attributable to obesity is very high. In a survey published in the Journal of American College Surgery, overweight people have an odds ratio of 1.7  to have hypertension compared with normal weight individuals and the risk increases with each class of obesity.

Lack of physical activity

Exercise allows the release of hormones that relax your blood vessels and lower your blood pressure while lack of physical activity increases the risk of being overweight. Lack of physical activity and obesity combined made up two common lifestyle risk factor for hypertension.

Dietary factors

A diet that is too high in sodium can elevate your blood pressure as it helps in narrowing your blood vessels and makes your body retain more fluid. Increase availability and demand for processed food that are heavy on sodium among young adult contribute to the increase of hypertension incidence.

Negligence in blood pressure monitoring among young adult is very common. They usually have a false sense of security over hypertension and are more likely to be less compliance to medication if diagnosed. Young adult should be aware of the increasing numbers of hypertension among their age group and take proactive measure to prevent it.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnose or treatment.

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