Higher blood pressure in younger years leads to increased risk of death later in life
posted on: Dec 2, 2011
A collaboration of SPHSU’s Dr Linsay Gray,
Harvard and UCL has found that elevated blood pressure in early adulthood is associated with a greater risk of death decades later. This includes all deaths combined and specifically death from heart disease.
Although elevated blood pressure is a well-established risk factor for developing coronary heart disease, most of the evidence has come from studies on middle-aged and elderly populations. To gain understanding of the relationship with blood pressure in younger individuals, the team examined data from the Harvard Alumni Health Study spanning 60 years, beginning when study participants were entering university while 18 years old on average.
After adjusting for age, body mass index, smoking status and physical activity they found that an elevated blood pressure in young adulthood was associated with an increased risk of death from all-causes and from heart disease. These increased risks remained after adjusting for high blood pressure in middle age.
The study represents the first analysis of blood pressure in young adults that takes into consideration the impact of middle age high blood pressure. The findings point to the growing need to emphasize and support lifestyle approaches to the prevention and control of hypertension in young adults.