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Young adults at higher risk for failure to diagnose hypertension

The failure to diagnose medical conditions such as hypertension and heart attacks continues to be a problem in Oregon, especially among younger adults. A new study shows young adults with high blood pressure are less likely than older adults to be diagnosed at doctor visits. The study is revealing, as failure to diagnose elevated blood pressure, or hypertension, can result in a worsened condition for the patient or even death.

Researchers in the study looked at the medical records of thousands of men and women across the U.S. The patients all had at least two routine doctor appointments in the past few years and met the criteria to be diagnosed with high blood pressure.

The findings showed large numbers of patients going undiagnosed with hypertension, with the percentage being higher in young adults. Specifically, after four years of doctor appointments, 54 percent of people 60 years and older remained undiagnosed. This is compared to 67 percent of adults in the 18 to 24 age range going undiagnosed, 65 percent of adults ages 25 to 31 and 59 percent of adults ages 32 to 39.

The study also found young adults were less likely to be diagnosed if they smoked and had a mild case of high blood pressure. A proper diagnosis in young adults was more common in the cases of minorities, those suffering from diabetes or severe hypertension and patients that had more doctor appointments.

Proper diagnosis is extremely important because it can mean the difference between getting treatment early and finding out when medical issues have already become severe. If a doctor mistreats an illness, or fails to adequately diagnose a disease, the patient may be entitled to compensation. When the symptoms are clear and the physician makes an error, the patient's compensation may include recovery for economic and noneconomic damages that the patient has suffered as a result.

Source: U.S. News, "High blood pressure often missed in young adults: study," Nov. 6, 2012

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