"These young patients come to the clinic and their blood pressure is recorded," lead researcher Dr. Heather Johnson, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, said in a statement. "They have high blood pressure, but there's no documentation of a diagnosis. We wanted to find out why."
Johnson and colleagues examined the electronic health records of 13,593 men and women age 18 and older who had visited their doctor at least twice within the previous three years in an
out-patient, non-urgent care setting, and had multiple elevated blood pressures that met guideline criteria for a hypertension diagnosis.
The study found after four years of visiting their doctors and accounting for other factors:
-- 67 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds remained undiagnosed compared to 54 percent of people 60 and older.
-- 65 percent of 25- to 31-year-olds were undiagnosed.
-- 59 percent of 32- to 39-year-olds were still living with undiagnosed high blood pressure.
Young adults were less likely to be diagnosed if they actively smoked and if they had a mild stage of hypertension, Johnson added.
Conversely, a high blood pressure diagnosis was more likely for minorities, young adults with diabetes, severe high blood pressure and those who made more clinic visits to primary care and specialty providers, the study said.
The findings were presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions