Risks For Heart Disease Indicated By Blood Pressure At Midlife
Another reason to know your blood pressure numbers. A new study finds that the ups and downs of blood pressure at midlife have a significant association with risks for heart disease later on.
This comes from an investigation of data from 7 different studies that included over 61,000 subjects – one of the largest research projects that’s ever been done on how alterations in blood pressure at midlife impact on the lifetime chance of stroke or heart disease.
The research team used the data to estimate the lifetime risk for both heart attack, stroke as well as other known heart events for both Caucasian and African American adult subjects.
Starting with the initial reading at 41 years old, researchers tracked alterations in blood pressure until the subjects were 55 years of age, then kept following participants until a heart attack or stroke or another similar medical event happened, they died or reached the age of 95.
When subjects were in their mid 50s, 25% of men, and 50% of women continued to have normal readings, about half the participants had readings that were above the normal range but not high enough to fall into the hypertension category. Interesting that women had bigger rises in blood pressure readings at mid life than men, African Americans had an increased risk over their lifetime for suffering from hypertension, heart attack or stroke than whites did.
The study confirmed that those with a normal reading at 55 have a relatively low risk of heart disease or stroke during their lives. But, those who already had hypertension at this age also carried an increased lifetime risk of some form of heart disease problem – anywhere from 42% to 69%.
Anyone who keeps their blood pressure number in the lower range, less than 120/80 has the lowest risk of heart disease and stroke; those who were above 140/90 have the highest risk. The longer you can keep your blood pressure within normal ranges, the better off you will be.
Based on the analysis, the team of researchers predicts that
– More than two of three men who had hypertension at middle age will go on to experience a heart attack, stroke or another such even by the age of 85.
– 50% of women who suffer with hypertension by the early 40s will have heart disease, or increased risk of stroke later on in life.
The research findings point out how important it is to maintain normal blood pressure during mid life, and even earlier.
Over 74 million U.S. adults suffer from hypertension, a condition where the top number (systolic or when the heart beats) exceeds 140 mmHg, the bottom number (diastolic or when the heart rests) is at 90 mmHg or higher. The American Heart Association recommends that adults start having blood pressure screenings at age 20 as part of your regular healthcare visit every two years, so long as your blood pressure is under 120/80.
Remember hypertension has no symptoms, you could have it for years and not know it, though all that time it will be damaging your heart and blood vessels as well as your kidneys and other parts of your body… silently, steadily. Your best bet, if you don’t know your blood pressure numbers, is to find out so as to manage your risks for heart disease in the future.