How is it that a person as young as 25 could have a baseline blood pressure that’s high, meaning at least 140 for the top number and over 90 for the bottom number?
And this includes non-overweight 25-year-olds (or any age in the 20s).
But let’s first take a look at obesity as a cause of high baseline blood pressure in someone age 25.
“Yes, obesity is a risk factor, but the elevated BP in larger people may not be a true reading,” says Susan L. Besser, MD, with Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore, and Diplomate American Board of Obesity Medicine and board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.
“Always be sure a proper size BP cuff is used to measure. One that is too small will give an artificially elevated reading.”
Non-overweight 20-somethings can still have high blood pressure in the absence of triggers such as “white coat syndrome” (anxiety at a doctor’s office), heated emotions and lifting heavy weights.
Dr. Besser says that “other risk factors include genetics (family history), medications such as decongestants (Sudafed), but also birth control pills can raise blood pressure.
“So can illicit drugs (cocaine, amphetamines and others). Alcohol and tobacco are also risks to develop higher blood pressure.”
Surprising Cause of High Baseline Blood Pressure in the 25-Year-Old
Untreated obstructive sleep apnea (and don’t rule yourself out just because you’re thin or female) can lead to a high baseline blood pressure.
Though the stereotypical person with sleep apnea is a portly older man with a short thick neck, obstructive sleep apnea can be caused by one or more of the following:
• Naturally small upper airway
• Small jaw, chin, oral cavity
• Large tongue base
• Excess pharyngeal tissue
• Smoking (inflames pharyngeal tissue)
• Drinking liquor shortly before bedtime (alcohol relaxes the throat tissues, making them more prone to collapse)
If untreated, sleep apnea causes a cascade of events in the body that lead to high blood pressure during sleep – which can then persist into waking hours.
High Blood Pressure: Silent Killer
There’s no such thing as high blood pressure (hypertension) being harmless because the patient is only 25.
Chronic high blood pressure is a common cause of congestive heart failure because it forces the cardiac muscle to work harder.
The overworked heart muscle then develops hypertrophy: it enlarges. The enlargement distorts or remodels the natural shape of the heart, impairing its ability to pump adequately.
Hypertension rarely causes symptoms but can cause a stroke.
If you don’t want to visit a medical clinic to get your blood pressure checked, then at least purchase a BP monitor and take it at home.
Dr. Besser provides comprehensive family care, treating common and acute primary conditions like diabetes and hypertension. Her ongoing approach allows her the opportunity to provide accurate and critical diagnoses of more complex conditions and disorders.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.