Unstable blood pressure can be a hidden sign of heart disease

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Blood pressure is a familiar term—it’s the force exerted by circulating blood upon the walls of blood vessels, and chiefly of arteries, throughout the body.

Just like water flowing through a hose, blood pushes against the artery walls as the heart pumps.

If this pressure is consistently too high, known as hypertension, it can lead to serious health issues, including heart disease.

Recent research has shed light on an interesting aspect of blood pressure that could have significant implications for future health. It turns out that fluctuations in blood pressure in young adults could be a warning sign of heart problems later in life.

Typically, doctors calculate an average of multiple blood pressure readings to determine if treatment is necessary. However, a new study suggests that large swings in blood pressure might pose a risk that isn’t captured by looking at averages alone.

This insight comes from a long-term study that spanned over 30 years, tracking a diverse group of young adults. The initial decade of the study involved frequent blood pressure measurements, followed by a 20-year period where the participants’ health outcomes were monitored.

The study was quite inclusive, involving nearly equal numbers of African American participants and women.

The focus of the researchers was on systolic blood pressure—the top number in a blood pressure reading.

This measurement indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when the heart beats. A systolic pressure above 130 is considered high and can increase the risk of heart disease.

Over the course of the study, some participants developed heart conditions, including heart disease, strokes, and required surgeries to clear blocked arteries.

Interestingly, the researchers found that even small increases in systolic blood pressure in young adulthood were linked to a 15% increased risk of heart issues later, regardless of whether their average blood pressure readings were considered normal.

This finding is crucial because it highlights the importance of monitoring blood pressure changes over time, not just the averages. Current medical guidelines may not fully address the risk associated with these fluctuations.

The study, which was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and published in JAMA Cardiology, emphasizes the need for early monitoring of blood pressure variability.

It suggests that noticing and addressing these changes during early adulthood could lead to interventions that improve long-term health and longevity.

In addition to this study, other research has explored various aspects of blood pressure. For instance, findings have linked cannabis use to a tripled risk of death from hypertension and indicated that beetroot juice could help lower blood pressure.

These studies, together with the new insights on blood pressure variability, contribute to a deeper understanding of cardiovascular health and the complex factors that influence it.

Overall, this new research on fluctuating blood pressure readings represents a significant advance in our understanding of how to protect heart health.

It calls for a broader approach to monitoring and treating blood pressure, one that considers not just the static measurements but also their changes over time.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease, and calcium supplements could harm your heart health.

For more information about health, please see recent studies that blackcurrants can reduce blood sugar after meal and results showing how drinking milk affects risks of heart disease and cancer.

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