Massage therapy has been shown to reduce high blood pressure. New research shows nearly one in five young adults has high blood pressure. This figure is much higher than previously reported, according to the new study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Researchers analyzed data on more than 14,000 men and women between 24 and 32 years old in 2008 from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, known as Add Health, funded by the National Institutes of Health.

They found 19 percent had elevated blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension. Only about half of the participants with elevated blood pressure had ever been told by a health care provider that they had the condition.

“The findings are significant because they indicate that many young adults are at risk of developing heart disease, but are unaware that they have hypertension,” said Quynh Nguyen, a doctoral student at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health and the study’s lead author. Hypertension is a strong risk factor for stroke and coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death for adults in the U.S.

The findings were published online May 23 in the journal Epidemiology.

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