Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Hypertension/High Blood Pressure Health Center

Font Size

High BP in Young Adults, Heart Trouble Later?

25-year study tied even slight rise in early adulthood to future risk of clogged arteries


Overall, Allen's team found that study participants had five general "trajectories" in blood pressure over time.

Five percent had slightly elevated blood pressure at their first measurement, which then kept increasing over the years. That group had the worst-looking arteries 25 years later: One-quarter had calcium "scores" above 100, which is linked to a higher-than-normal risk of suffering a heart attack in the next several years.

In contrast, among people who had normal blood pressure throughout the study, only 4 percent had calcium scores that high.

But it wasn't only the young people with ever-increasing blood pressure who showed artery trouble later on.

Another 19 percent had blood pressure that was slightly elevated in young adulthood, but stable thereafter -- hovering in the pre-hypertension range over the years. In that group, 17 percent ended up with a calcium score above 100.

Of course, young people with elevated blood pressure might have other health issues, too. But even when Allen's team took into account for other factors -- like smoking, weight and current blood pressure -- a person's lifetime blood-pressure pattern was still important.

According to Bakris, it all suggests that elevated blood pressure, left unchecked, can start taking a toll on the arteries early in life. "If you wait until your 40s or 50s to address it, the damage to the arteries may already be done," he said.

He suggested that most healthy young people have their blood pressure checked every couple of years. But if they have a strong family history of high blood pressure -- such as two parents who developed the condition at a fairly young age -- more-frequent blood pressure checks would be in order, Bakris said.


Today on WebMD

lowering blood pressure
man in bed
heart-shaped stethoscope
Overturned salt shaker
heart healthy living
Erectile Dysfunction Slideshow
Bernstein Hypertension Affects Cardiac Risk
Compressed heart
Heart Disease Overview Slideshow
thumbnail for lowering choloesterol slideshow
Heart Foods Slideshow
Low Blood Pressure

WebMD Special Sections