It would come as a shock to many that a 24–year-old boy is hypertensive. How is that possible? How could such an energetic youth have a condition generally thought as old people’s disease? A slight fever caused him to pay the doctor a visit and when his blood pressure was checked, it was a startling 150 over 90 mmHg.
What could have caused high blood pressure in a 24–year old? What could bother his mind so much as to make his blood pressure rise so high? He wasn’t stressed. He didn’t have a heavy weight on his chest. His doctor explained that his case could just be an issue of genetic inheritance. Eseosa Akioya of the Vones Medical Centre, Yaba, Lagos gave some insight into the phenomenon.
High blood pressure and hypertension
“High blood pressure and hypertension are essentially the same thing. High blood pressure is just a simple way of expressing the term hypertension. It means that the blood pressure of an individual is elevated or higher than some universally set standards. A normal blood pressure, according to the World Health Organisation, should not exceed 140 over 90 mmHg. For diabetic people, it should not exceed 130 over 80 mmHg,” he said.
Causes of hypertension
Explaining what could be responsible for hypertension in young people, Dr Akioya said, “To talk about the cause of hypertension, we need to further classify it. There is essential hypertension and non-essential hypertension. Essential hypertension is what occurs in older people. It is so-called because in times past, when the name was coined, it was thought that the blood pressure needed to rise to facilitate adequate systemic perfusion (for organs to get adequate blood supply) in old people; because as people get older, the blood pressure gets thicker and less elastic.”
Dr Akioya corrected the view that hypertension only affects older people. “Non-essential or secondary hypertension is what occurs in young people. It is called secondary because the hypertension is primarily caused by a disease.” When told of a 24-year-old that was diagnosed with hypertension on complaining of a simple fever, the medical practitioner said there is nothing simple about fever. “Fever is caused by an illness, which could be malaria, and this fever in turn could cause hypertension. There are risk factors for hypertension such as stress, obesity, racial predilection, diabetes and genetic inheritance. Hypertension could also be transient; that is in a stressed, anxious, agitated or angry person.
“Except for very severe hypertension, such as those exceeding 180 over 100 mmHg, an isolated reading is not absolutely confirmatory. A high blood pressure could have been caused by a stressor which, when allayed, the blood pressure returns to normal. Kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, hormonal diseases could also lead to temporary high blood pressure and not necessarily a prolonged case of hypertension.”
Dr Akioya stressed that it is necessary for one to be aware of the cause of a disease and take necessary steps to curing or, better still, preventing it.
“Most diseases have isolated causes. It could be genetic as a result of a multi-factorial inheritance. There are environmental factors that could cause diseases in an individual. One’s lifestyle could also be responsible for a disease. Racial causes are prevalent. For instance, cancer of the stomach is common among the Japanese. There are diseases that are sometimes associated with age.
“It is very necessary for everyone to take his/her health seriously. Small precautions could go a long way in preventing severe diseases.”