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Don't Wait Until Middle Age to Address Heart Disease Risk

Northwestern Medicine
Cardiology February 05, 2014
Norrina Allen, PhDElevated blood pressure in people as young as age 18 is a warning sign of cardiovascular disease developing later in life and the time to begin prevention, according to a large national Northwestern Medicine® study.

That’s decades earlier than clinicians and patients generally start thinking about heart disease risk. The study also found distinct blood pressure patterns from ages 18 to 55 that reveal people at high risk for calcification of coronary arteries -- a marker for heart disease -- by middle age.

Also known as hardening of the arteries, these calcium deposits can narrow coronary arteries and increase heart attack risk. The 25-year study is the first to identify different long-term patterns of blood pressure levels and resulting cardiovascular risk.

“This shows that your blood pressure in young adulthood can impact your risk for heart disease later in life,” said Norrina Allen, PhD, lead study author and assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “We can’t wait until middle age to address it. If we can prevent their blood pressure from increasing earlier in life we can reduce their risk of future heart attacks and stroke."

Read more about the study here
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