Hypertension Serious in Young Men
High blood pressure is more common in younger men, and should be taken just as serious as in their older counterparts.
Young men with hypertension often have what's called "metabolic syndrome,"
which is known to contribute to heart disease and diabetes. It includes a
cluster of risk factors found in an individual and include excess body fat
(especially around the waist and chest), high cholesterol, and insulin
resistance. Studies have also shown that early vertex baldness can be
associated with HBP. In addition, obstructive sleep apnea and snoring are
linked to HBP in men in general.
Family history plays a role, but whether its importance varies with age of
onset is unknown. "From epidemiological and twin studies, estimates range from
10% to 40%," says Ulrich Broeckel, MD, who is researching the role of genetics
in hypertension. The goal of research is to subcategorize hypertension in order
to improve diagnosis and treatment. "We're not ready for a diagnostic test, but
ultimately we'll treat patients better based on their genetic makeup."
Learn to Manage Anger
Managing anger may be more important for younger men than older men, says
Charles Spielberger, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of South
Florida in Tampa. "I don't know of studies that look only at men under age 35,
but a young man is dealing with a lifelong habit of anger," he tells WebMD.
He says anger involves feelings ranging from annoyance to rage and causes
psychological and biological changes. Spielberger developed the widely used
STAXI (State Trait Anger Expression Inventory) to assess anger and has studied
the role of anger in hypertension. "Research shows it is people who are boiling
inside but don't show it who are more likely to develop hypertension."
Anger can also be a personality trait. "Some people feel anger more often
across a wider variety of situations. People who do this and hold it in,
they're the ones in danger of hypertension."
Spielberger tells WebMD that a good anger management program can help
someone lower or normalize blood pressure. It's a three-step process.
First, learn to recognize the anger and the situations that cause it. "A lot
of people who feel anger frequently might not recognize it, especially low to
Second, analyze the situation. "If your supervisor frequently makes you and
other employees angry, tell yourself 'It's not me. This person is
supercritical. I'll listen to what he says, but I'm not going to blame myself
for his bad disposition.'"
Third, reduce the anger. "Counting to 10 will distract you, or try muscle
relaxation. If possible, avoid the situation."
What About 'White Coat Hypertension?'
If you have a physical exam that shows elevated blood pressure, your doctor
might say it could be "white coat hypertension," meaning the stress of seeing
the doctor caused the high reading.
White coat hypertension was once thought to be benign, but that may not be
the case, says Ulrich Broeckel, who is assistant professor of medicine at the
Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. He co-authored a study of 1,677
patients aged 25 to 74. The study, reported in the British Medical Journal,
measured structural changes in the heart, which Broeckel says were probably
related to stress and the response to stress. "We found a significant
difference between people who had white coat hypertension and those who didn't.
It suggests that if people have these increases in blood pressure when they see
a doctor, they have them in other stressful situations," says Broeckel.