Slightly high blood pressure related to plaques

New research suggests that young adults with high blood pressure, even if it is close to normal, have an increased risk of developing plaque on the lining of their blood vessels, as referred to as "atherosclerosis."

Slightly high blood pressure related to plaques
Such plaques are well-known risk factors for heart attack and stroke.

Young adulthood is a "critical period" when suboptimal blood pressure may be particularly harmful, Dr. Mark J. Pletcher and colleagues report in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

To investigate the long-term effect of slightly high blood pressure, Pletcher, at the University of California, San Francisco, and his group measured the blood pressure in 3,560 young adults who were followed from 1985 to 2005. At the end of the period, the presence of atherosclerosis in coronary arteries was determined by CT scan.

Nearly 20 percent of subjects developed slightly increased blood pressure, or "prehypertension" before age 35.

The longer prehypertension was present, the greater was the risk and severity of atherosclerosis in middle age.

Pletcher's group advocates lifestyle changes to treat prehypertension in young adulthood. Until further data are available, the team does not recommend the use of blood pressure drugs.

"Optimizing blood pressure in young adults will be a major challenge," they conclude, but efforts to do so "may yield substantial health benefits for individuals and reduce population rates of (heart disease and stroke) during middle age and beyond."

SOURCE: Annals of Internal Medicine, July 15, 2008.

Reuters
Last Mod: 16 Temmuz 2008, 14:29
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