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Midlife Blood Pressure Predicts Future Heart Risk

High Blood Pressure in Middle Age Linked to Later Heart Attack, Stroke

Middle-Age BP Predicts Heart, Stroke Risk continued...

Women had greater increases in blood pressure during middle age than men did, and African-American men and African-American women had a higher lifetime risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke than white men and women.

Based on their analysis, the researchers predicted that:

  • More than two out of three (70%) men who developed high blood pressure in middle age will have a heart attack, stroke, or other such event by age 85.
  • Half of women who develop high blood pressure by their early 40s will develop heart disease or increase their stroke risk later in life.

The study will appear in the Jan. 3 issue of the American Heart Association (AHA) journal Circulation.

‘Never Too Late to Lower Heart Attack, Stroke Risk’

The researchers were not able to examine the impact of drug treatments to control high blood pressure on lifetime heart attack and stroke risk.

That’s because drugs were not widely used to treat high blood pressure when the first blood pressure measurements were taken, Allen says.

American Heart Association president-elect Donna Arnett, PhD, says it is clear from clinical trials that drug treatments that control high blood pressure lower the lifetime risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from other similar causes.

Arnett, who chairs the department of epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, tells WebMD that it is never too late to lower heart attack and stroke risk with lifestyle changes and drug treatments.

“This research shows that normal blood pressure in middle age is a good indicator of [heart and blood vessel] health later in life,” she says. “Remaining physically active, maintaining a healthy body weight, eating right, and drug treatments can all help people achieve this goal.”

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