High blood pressure and cholesterol can affect young adults

High cholesterol and elevated blood pressure, or hypertension, are health problems usually associated with older adults and the elderly. But developing high blood pressure and high cholesterol in your 20s and 30s is not uncommon — especially if you have certain risk factors.

More than 102 million adults age 20 and older have high cholesterol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At the same time, the CDC says about 75 million adults have high blood pressure.

Increased cholesterol levels and high blood pressure can occur without any symptoms, so many people have no idea their numbers are high. Knowing the risk factors can help you determine your chances for developing high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

To learn more about how you can manage your heart health, visit the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute or call 1-855-UPMC-HVI (8762-484).

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Risk Factors for High Cholesterol

Young adults whose family history includes high cholesterol are more likely to develop this condition in their 20s and 30s.

Having diabetes and eating an unhealthy diet also can increase your risk of developing high cholesterol. According to the CDC, diets high in cholesterol, trans fats, and saturated fats can lead to higher cholesterol levels in your body. Physical activity matters, too. A lack of exercise can lead to weight gain and/or obesity, both of which increase your chances of developing high cholesterol.

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Who Has High Blood Pressure?

Like high cholesterol, high blood pressure in young adults is more likely if you have certain health conditions, including diabetes and pre-hypertension.

Unhealthy behaviors and poor lifestyle choices linked to high blood pressure in young adults include:

High blood pressure in your 20s and 30s also can be linked to race, ethnicity, and geography. A report by the CDC shows that high blood pressure is prevalent among non-Hispanic Black adults (42.1 percent) and non-Hispanic white adults (28 percent), as well as Hispanic (26 percent) and non-Hispanic Asian (24.7 percent) adults. High blood pressure is found more commonly in adults who live in the southern and eastern United States

How to Lower Your Risk

Young or old, you can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels with education and lifestyle changes. First, know your numbers. If you’re concerned you may be at a higher risk, talk to your doctor about having your cholesterol and blood pressure levels checked.

To lower your cholesterol, eat a healthy diet low in saturated fats, lose weight if you’re overweight, and participate in regular physical activity (about 30 minutes a day). You also should cut out unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol, and eating poorly. Keeping your blood pressure in a normal range also may involve taking medicine, reducing the amount of sodium in your diet, and getting plenty of exercise.

About Heart and Vascular Institute

The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute has long been a leader in cardiovascular care, with a rich history in clinical research and innovation. As one of the first heart transplant centers in the country and as the developer of one of the first heart-assist devices, UPMC has contributed to advancing the field of cardiovascular medicine. We strive to provide the most advanced, cutting-edge care for our patients, treating both common and complex conditions. We also offer services that seek to improve the health of our communities, including heart screenings, free clinics, and heart health education. Find an expert near you.