Written by Min Yu
Many medical articles surrounding hypertension, or high blood pressure, are geared towards adults because the risk of developing high blood pressure increases with age. While it seems like young adults are safe from hypertension, recent research shows that college students are frighteningly at risk too. In fact, according to a study by the University of New Hampshire, 66% of its male students and 50% of its female students from the 800 students sampled exhibited at least one symptom of metabolic syndrome, which includes high blood pressure . This study is indicative of a larger trend of increasing blood pressure that is occurring in colleges around the United States.
Blood pressure is the amount of pressure that blood in your body exerts on the walls of your arteries. There are two important numbers, the diastolic and systolic pressure, that are analyzed when your blood pressure is measured. The systolic pressure is the pressure of your heart when it is beating and should be under 120 mmHg. The diastolic pressure is the pressure of your heart in between pumping blood and should be under 80 mmHg . Therefore, it is important to maintain a blood pressure under 120/80 mmHg because having elevated levels of blood pressure can lead to many serious medical conditions in the future like kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes .
While many college students joke about the “top ramen” life, having nutrient-inadequate meals is no laughing matter. Many students are eating foods that are deficient in iron, calcium, and folate, which are pivotal to maintaining a healthy blood pressure. In addition, they are more likely to consume foods that are high in sodium from fast food restaurants due to their colleges’ close proximity to places like the University Town Center at UC Irvine. It is important to eat foods with less sodium and more iron, calcium, and folate. Recent studies also indicate that potassium-rich foods are also beneficial for maintaining a healthy blood pressure, because they balance out the effects of sodium in your body . Therefore, you can improve your diet by having adequate portions of fruits, vegetables, and protein to your meal.
Lack of exercise can also contribute to a high blood pressure. Indeed, because many students are so focused on their schoolwork, they may neglect physical activity . Therefore, a simple way to get in exercise would be taking the stairs instead of the elevator when going to class or back to the dorm. Also, it is best not to smoke or consume alcohol because these habits may also contribute to a higher blood pressure .
It is good to start maintaining a healthy blood pressure to prevent major health complications in the future. While it may seem hard with the hectic life of college, it is important not to forget the importance of your health too. High blood pressure can have many deadly consequences in the future that can creep up on you, so don’t let “the silent killer” get you next.