How hypertension early in life may signal future cardiovascular health problems

  • High blood pressure at the end of adolescence could indicate heart disease later in life.
  • Early detection and treatment for high blood pressure can lower the risk of suffering from stroke as well as other related high blood pressure diseases.
  • While women weren’t part of the research, it is clear that the concept of reducing risk factors for cardiovascular disease is just as crucial for women as it is for men.

High blood pressure in teenagers is associated with a greater chance of cardiovascular incidents late in life, as per a study released on the same day in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers from Umea and Uppsala Universities evaluated the medical documents of 1356,519 males who joined the Swedish military between 1969 and 1997.

Conscription to the military in Sweden was a lawful requirement for all citizens of Sweden, resulting in an all-encompassing study. Researchers were able to exclude around 2 percent of males with an illness that is chronic or disability.

Their blood pressure readings at the time of enlistment were deemed to be the reference reading.

The research team used the guidelines of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association guidelines trusted Source. They regarded reading as that was below 120/80 normal, 120-129/80 elevated, or higher than that of high blood pressure.

A little more than 17% of participants had normal blood pressure. Nearly 29% of the participants had high blood pressure, and 53% had been diagnosed with blood pressure higher than 130/80 mm Hg.

At the conclusion of the average of nearly 36 years of follow-up years, scientists were able to report:

  • 79,644 first-time heart events
  • 32,791 patients with an infarction of the heart
  • 18,118 and heart problems
  • 17,623 people who had an underlying stroke
  • 5,064 patients who suffered an intracerebral hemorrhage

In the course of the study, the number of deaths related to cardiovascular disease was 22,028. The number of deaths due to any reason was 64,759.

The connection with blood pressure as well as heart health

The study authors found that the likelihood of having a heart attack was higher for participants who had high and elevated blood pressure after the age of 18. The risk continued to rise when blood pressure increased.

“Blood pressure is not a disease, it is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Jennifer Wong, MD, the doctor of cardiology and the medical director for non-invasive cardiology in the MemorialCare Heart and Vascular Institute located at Orange Coast Medical Center in California who was not a participant during the investigation.

“I see the main takeaway from this study is that we don’t always pay attention to blood pressure at this age and what the implications are in later life,” she said to Medical News Today. “If we see high blood pressure at this time, it should be a warning and a prompt to discuss risk factors for cardiovascular disease and how to manage them.”

The researchers concluded that the results of this study show that elevated blood pressure levels among males during the late adolescent period are a significant risk factor for the development of future cardiovascular events. They are increasing gradually, starting with an average blood pressure of 120/80 mm Hg.

“Socioeconomic information was gathered once, at the age of 40, and used as a covariate in the statistical model,” Helene Rietz, a student of research at Umea University and one of the study’s authors, said in Medical News Today. “The purpose of our study was not to determine the link between socioeconomic variables as well as cardiovascular diseases. It was however evident within the simulation that having a socioeconomic status protected against heart disease.”

The World Health Organization estimates that around 80 percent of your health is derived from the environment around you, including the place you were born, grow up, and work, as well as the age you reach.

“Higher socioeconomic status could very well contribute to health,” said Dr. Varinder Singh, who is the director of the department of cardiology at Northwell Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, who was not part of the study.

“In these homes kids may be exposed to the role models they see and will become aware of their parents’ visit the doctor and undergo examinations. Also, there could be healthy food choices in the home which can improve overall health,” he told Medical News Today.

The early detection and treatment of heart disease are crucial.

Experts believe that the findings of the study suggest that the early detection and treatment of hypertension may reduce the chance of having a cardiovascular event in the future.

“I hope that the results of this study will encourage and motivate practitioners to measure blood pressure in adolescents more often,” Rietz stated. “Offering the possibility of identifying those at risk of cardiovascular disease as well as permitting targeted interventions. In turn, it could help to reduce the risk of developing heart disease.”

High blood pressure is typically unasymptomatic, so the need for regular blood pressure monitoring is essential.

“We (parents and doctors) need to educate our children and young adults on the importance of regular checkups,” Singh stated. “Even when they seem healthy slowly the pressure chip away at their good health. It could take a long time but high blood pressure can damage the eyes and organs. A timely diagnosis and early treatment could help to prevent this.”

“Because it’s not symptomatic young adults may be hesitant about visiting a doctor. If they are waiting for symptoms to show the symptoms will be apparent before it’s too for them,” he added.

Limitations of Blood Pressure Study

The study is not without its limitations.

The first reason is that all of the participants are male. Researchers believe that the pattern observed could also be applicable to female teens.

“I do believe that the overall message of paying attention to your blood pressure and taking steps to reduce it and other risk factors is just as important for women as it is for men,” Wong explained.

Other limitations are:

  • The researchers used data from a database that was not intended for research.
  • The researchers had no information on factors like cigarettesalcohol consumptionand cholesterol levels that can all contribute to heart disease.
  • The blood pressure was only measured once and in a setting that can make people nervous, leading to elevated blood pressure.


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