High Blood Pressure and Heart Disease

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Story Updated: Feb 6, 2014

Doctors have long cautioned that a diagnosis of high blood pressure during middle age may mean a higher risk for heart disease. Now new research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that tracking blood pressure trends over time may offer better insight into heart risk than one reading taken in your 40's or 50's.

Starting in 1985, investigators spent a quarter-century monitoring the blood pressure levels of nearly 4,700 men and women all were between 18 and 30 when the study started.

Individuals who had higher blood pressures or those who increased their blood pressure from young adulthood through middle age had a higher risk for this calcification, up to an almost four times higher risk.

Over 25 years, blood pressure readings were taken 8 times... culminating with a scan for signs of coronary arterial hardening -specifically, coronary artery calcification.

About one-fifth started off with low blood pressure and remained stable while 42% maintained moderate readings throughout. Another 12% began in the moderate range, but saw their numbers rise over time. All fared relatively well in keeping coronary arterial calcification at bay.

Not so, however, for the 19% who exhibited stable, but high blood pressure throughout. That group along with people who started off with high numbers that gradually got worse were found to have the highest odds for developing coronary arterial calcification.

I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV your source for ideas to protect your health.

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