It is no secret that having high blood pressure at any age is linked to an increased risk of heart problems later in life.
But now new evidence has come to light that shows the age at which you are first diagnosed with hypertension, is critical in deciding how likely you are to have cardiovascular disease.
The researchers want patients and doctors to pay greater attention to the timing of when a person’s high blood pressure develops since younger people who develop high blood pressure before the age of 55, need to be more carefully managed by their doctors.
The findings, published in the British Medical Journal, reveal that being diagnosed at an earlier age is associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular death and also signifies an inherited predisposition for the disease.
Teemu J. Niiranen said: “We now know that there are at least two types of high blood pressure of which patients and providers should be aware - one type that develops earlier in life, which likely represents an inherited trait, and another that develops later in life that could possibly have more to do with lifestyle factors.”
“Most importantly, the type that develops earlier in life is related to greater lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease.”
According to the NHS, 25% of adults in the UK have high blood pressure, and despite knowing that this is directly related to strokes and heart attacks, there is minimal understanding around early and late diagnosis.
Not only is there limited understanding, but as a result, little to no data to guide doctors on how to treat early hypertension.
Susan Cheng, senior author, said: “If people who happen to develop hypertension earlier rather than later in life can receive more aggressive and targeted therapies to control their blood pressure, this could help reduce their lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease.”
The researchers tracked which individuals developed high blood pressure earlier or later in life, identified patterns of earlier versus later onset hypertension among families and then compared the lifetime risks of cardiovascular disease in people with earlier versus later onset hypertension.
What is hypertension?
Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers.
The systolic pressure (higher number) is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body. And the diastolic pressure (lower number) is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels. They’re both measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).
As a general guide high is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher, ideal is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg, and low is considered to be 90/60mmHg or lower.
How do I know my blood pressure?
The only way to find out if your blood pressure is high is to have your blood pressure checked.