Higher blood pressure at 18 means hardening arteries at 40

Feb. 4, 2014, NPR [Shots Blog]

By Maanvi Singh

Young people in their teens and early 20s probably aren’t thinking about heart disease. But maybe it’s time they did.

People who have slightly higher blood pressure when they’re ages 18 to 25 are more likely to have high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries in their 40s, a study says. About one quarter of the people in this study were in that group.

“We need to be aware that what happens when we’re young adults is going to have an impact,” says Norrina Allen, an epidemiologist and the study’s lead author.

She and her colleagues at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine looked at data from 4,600 men and women in Chicago, Birmingham, Ala., Minneapolis, and Oakland, Calif., who have been followed for over 25 years. About 19 percent of the people had blood pressure that was consistently higher than their peers. Another 5 percent started with higher blood pressure that then rose over time. Continue reading