High blood pressure in late adolescence linked to heart attacks later in life

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High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a global health concern and a primary reason behind serious heart conditions and untimely deaths.

Typically, the relationship between blood pressure levels and heart-related outcomes is extensively researched in middle-aged and elderly individuals.

However, there’s limited knowledge on how blood pressure levels during one’s teenage years could be a precursor to severe cardiovascular ailments in the future.

Researchers from Umeå University and Uppsala University in Sweden conducted an extensive study involving over 1 million Swedish men.

They tracked the health of these individuals for up to 50 years, starting from their adolescence at age 18.

The goal was to discern the link between blood pressure levels in the teenage years and the risk of encountering significant cardiovascular events in later life, including heart failure, heart attacks, strokes, and related fatalities.

This study particularly focused on individuals who were enlisted in the Swedish military between 1969 and 1997, and their blood pressure was recorded during their conscription.

To categorize the levels of blood pressure, the guidelines from the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association were used.

The blood pressure was considered elevated if it ranged between 120 to 129/<80 mm Hg.

The findings were quite telling. Nearly 29% of participants had elevated blood pressure, and around 54% were experiencing hypertensive levels during their teenage years.

During the lengthy follow-up period spanning five decades, the researchers observed a consistent and considerable increase in the risk for major cardiovascular events as the categories of blood pressure rose.

Remarkably, the study found that adolescents with stage 2 hypertension had a one in ten chance of experiencing a significant cardiovascular event before reaching retirement.

In contrast, those with blood pressure below 120/80 mm Hg seemed to be at no such risk.

These findings spotlight the importance of early detection and intervention of high blood pressure, even in the teenage years.

The possibility of identifying individuals with an increased cardiovascular risk early on provides a crucial window for interventions to prevent cardiovascular diseases (CVDs).

Therefore, this emphasizes the need for regular blood pressure measurements in adolescents, a practice which is currently not common but could be critical to mitigating future health risks.

By acknowledging and addressing hypertension early, not only can individuals lead healthier, more informed lives, but there is also the broader implication of reducing the global burden of cardiovascular diseases and related deaths.

This proactive approach in monitoring and managing blood pressure from a young age could be a cornerstone in cardiovascular disease prevention strategies, thereby fostering healthier societies.

The extensive Swedish study underscores the vital connection between blood pressure levels in adolescence and the ensuing risk of cardiovascular events in adulthood.

It brings to light the necessity for routine blood pressure checks in teenagers and highlights the significance of early interventions.

By doing so, it opens avenues to combat and prevent cardiovascular conditions proactively, emphasizing the crucial role of early health management in fostering long, healthy lives.

If you care about high blood pressure, please read studies about the best time to take high blood pressure drugs, and scientists find new ways to treat high blood pressure.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies that exercise in middle age reversed worrisome heart failure, and results showing this drug combo can cut risk of stroke and heart attack by half.

The research findings can be found in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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