Washington: Researchers have said that elevated blood pressure as young as age 18 is a warning sign of cardiovascular disease developing later in life.
According to a large national Northwestern Medicine study, distinct blood pressure patterns from ages 18 to 55 that reveal people at high risk for calcification of coronary arteries - a marker for heart disease - by middle age. Also known as hardening of the arteries, these calcium deposits can narrow coronary arteries and increase heart attack risk.
Lead study author Norrina Allen, assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said that this shows that your blood pressure in young adulthood can impact your risk for heart disease later in life.
The study used data from 4,681 participants in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study from baseline years 1985-1986 through 25 years of follow-up. The participants (black and white men and women) were 18 to 25 years old when the study began and from four urban sites including Chicago, Birmingham, Minneapolis, and Oakland.
The study identified five patterns in blood pressure from young adulthood to middle age:
22 percent of participants maintained low blood pressure throughout follow-up (low-stable group)
2 percent had moderate levels (moderate-stable group)
12 percent started with moderate levels which increased at an average age of 35 years (moderate-increasing group)
19 percent had relatively elevated levels throughout (elevated-stable group)
5 percent started with elevated blood pressure, which increased during follow-up (elevated-increasing group).
The study has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
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