High blood pressure can increase your risk of heart disease. But if you have the condition at a young age, your chances may be even higher.
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Researchers from Duke University recently conducted a study, published in JAMA, to explore hypertension in younger adults based on new blood pressure levels set by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association.
In 2017, the organizations defined normal blood pressure as 120 or lower systolic blood pressure over 80 diastolic or less, elevated blood pressure as 120-129 over less than 80, stage 1 hypertension as 130-139 over 80-89 and stage 2 hypertension as 140 or greater over 90 or greater.
For the assessment, they examined more than 4,800 adults who had blood pressure measurements taken before age 40. About half of participants were African-American, and 55 percent were women. The scientists then categorized the subjects into the four aforementioned blood pressure groups and followed them for about 19 years.
After analyzing the results, they found people with higher blood pressure before age 40 were more at risk for cardiovascular disease events like a heart attack or stroke, compared to those under 40 with normal blood pressure. In fact, higher blood pressure before age 40 was associated with up to a 3.5 times greater risk of heart disease and strokes.
"This is a first step in assessing whether high blood pressure, as defined by the new criteria, is something that younger people should be concerned about as a potential precursor to serious problems," lead author Yuichiro Yano said in a statement "Although this is an observational study, it demonstrates that the new blood pressure guidelines are helpful in identifying those who might be at risk for cardiovascular events."
The scientists now hope to continue their investigations to confirm their findings and encourage health care providers to better target younger individuals with higher blood pressure.
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