Individuals who experience consistent increases in blood pressure starting around their 20s are more likely to develop atherosclerosis by the time they reach middle-age, according to a new study that followed 4,681 patients for 25 years. Monitoring long-term patterns of changes in blood pressure may help physicians more accurately identify a patient's risk of developing heart disease, the authors said.
Though high blood pressure is a well-known predictor of heart disease risk, most models take into account blood pressure at only a single point in time, usually when the patient is already middle-aged or older. The study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, followed patients from young adulthood to middle-age, taking note of differences in blood pressure over time in trajectories ranging from low and stable, to elevated and increasing. This is “a novel approach” to assessing coronary heart disease, an accompanying editorial said.