High Blood Pressure Early in Life Can Cause Long Term Health Issues

Yet another study has recently come out linking early life high blood pressure with significant health risks. Hypertension or high blood pressure is traditionally been associated with older adults, however recently we’ve seen there’s an alarming amount of young adults with the issue and it's on the rise. And the more it is looked into, the more we see that it can cause a long term detriment to brain health and heart disease. To make matters worse, there isn't a clear consensus on how to medicate the issue with there being a lack of studies on the long term effect of taking such treatments at a young age.

The New Study

The recent research published this week in PLOS looked at 136,000 participants which high LDL cholesterol (what is commonly called bad cholesterol) and 135,000 participants with high blood pressure as well as 24,000 people with coronary heart disease to see if LDL and High Blood Pressure increased the risk later in life.

After looking at the information the scientists discovered that having high blood pressure or higher LDL under 55 years of age dramatically increased the risks of heart disease later in life. And these risks stayed higher even if the participants lowered their cholesterol or blood pressure.

The Earlier Studies on Blood Pressure and Brain Health

Cognitive Changes in Midlife

Another study that was originally shown at American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference in 2022 showed the impact of high blood pressure in young adults. The study focused on individuals aged 20 to 40. It showed a significant correlation between high blood pressure in this age group and cognitive changes in midlife. Particularly around the age of 55. These changes may increase the risk of cognitive decline and dysfunction later in life.

Brain Structure and Function

Further supporting evidence comes from a comprehensive meta analysis conducted in 2020. The review examined the effects of hypertension on the brain across all ages and found that elevated blood pressure, even in childhood can lead to altered brain structure and a lower cognitive function later in life.

The Rise of High Blood Pressure in Young Adults and Even Children

The occurrence of high blood pressure in children and adolescents has become a growing concern in recent decades. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine the early life high blood pressure has quadrupled over the last 30 years in the US. Shockingly, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that approximately 1 in 25 youth aged 12 to 19 have high blood pressure! 

Understanding the Factors Contributing to High Blood Pressure in Young Adults

Several factors contribute to the development of high blood pressure in young adults. But, the largest concern is an increase in sedentary lifestyles and increased stress levels are significant culprits. And of course, the increase in obesity rates. And to top it off the pandemic has further exacerbated these issues as many people have experienced heightened stress levels and reduced physical activity due to lockdowns and restrictions.

In short, the increased rates of high blood pressure amongst young people could be a ticking time bomb, and it requires serious and immediate work to reduce this wherever possible, with serious consideration given to policy and what can be done to deal with the problem.

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