Having high blood pressure at 18 increases midlife heart attack risk

  • 2 Min To Read
  • 8 months ago

A recent long-term study has revealed that high blood pressure in adolescence and young adulthood can increase the risk of cardiovascular events later in life. The study focused on 18-year-old males and found that those with elevated or high blood pressure had a higher likelihood of experiencing heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular events compared to those with normal blood pressure.

The research showed that the risk of cardiovascular events gradually increased across all blood pressure categories, starting with elevated blood pressure, which is the stage before high blood pressure. It was estimated that 1 in 10 adolescent males with stage 2 high blood pressure would experience a major cardiovascular event before retirement.

The study's findings highlight the importance of early measurement and management of blood pressure. Dr. Jennifer Wong, a cardiologist and medical director, emphasized the impact of blood pressure levels at a young age on cardiovascular outcomes later in life. She compared it to how physical activity levels in youth can affect cardiovascular health.

Blood pressure is measured using two numbers, systolic blood pressure (when the heart beats) and diastolic blood pressure (when the heart is at rest). Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mmHg, while stage 1 high blood pressure falls within the range of 130-139 mmHg systolic or 80-89 mmHg diastolic.

The study was conducted in Sweden using a national database of males enlisted in the military between 1969 and 1997. Researchers followed the participants for an average of 36 years, linking their enlistment records to hospital inpatient and death records to identify cardiovascular events.

While the study focused on males, previous research suggests that the findings will likely be similar for women. However, the study's limitations include its observational nature and the lack of accounting for other risk factors like smoking, alcohol consumption, and blood cholesterol.

Experts recommend routine blood pressure measurement during check-ups, even for children. Lifestyle changes such as weight control, physical activity, and sodium restriction can help manage blood pressure in young adults with levels below 140/90 mmHg. Medications may be necessary for those with severe high blood pressure, but further research is needed to assess the benefits and risks in younger adults.

In conclusion, early measurement and management of blood pressure are crucial in reducing the risk of cardiovascular events later in life. By addressing blood pressure levels in adolescence and young adulthood, individuals can take preventive measures and make lifestyle changes to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.


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