By Lisa Rapaport
(Reuters Health) – People who have high blood pressure or high cholesterol before the age of 40 are more likely to have a heart attack than other adults, according to a new analysis.
pooled data from six studies totaling 36,030 people. From a mean age of 53 years, researchers followed the participants to determine who had heart attacks, strokes, or heart failure.
By the time half of the subjects had been followed up for at least 17 years, participants had high levels of 64% of "bad" LDL cholesterol before the age of 40 – that's more than 129 milligrams per deciliter of blood – had events such as heart attacks compared to people with low LDL levels in early adulthood The upper limit of normal blood pressure is 1
"Many young adults feel alright, or they are ready to think – I'm OK, I'll make healthy decisions later when I'm older," Dr. Andrew Moran, senior author of the study and researcher at Columbia University Medical Center in New York.
"This study shows that healthy choices are healthy and important for young adults," Moran said via email. "This means not smoking, having a healthy diet and exercising regularly."
And for some young adults at high risk of taking medications to deal with risk factors – something that is not taken for granted now – it might be worthwhile, Moran added.
Very few people in the study had high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels in adulthood, researchers report in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
During the follow-up, 4,570 participants had events such as heart attacks, 5,119 had heart failure events and 2,862 had strokes.
The study can not explain whether or how high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol in early adulthood could later lead directly to heart attack, stroke or heart failure.
A limitation of the analysis is that in the smaller studies used in the analysis, in some cases, no blood pressure and cholesterol values were measured over the whole lifespan. The case researchers had to estimate how many younger adults had these risk factors, based on the data they had for older participants.
"Heart failure and heart attack are the result of years of exposure to risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol," said Drs. Samuel Gidding, co-author of a study guide and medical director of the FH (Familial Hypercholesterolemia) Foundation in Pasadena, California.
"Both cause fat buildup in the coronary arteries, which starts in childhood, leading to a heart attack later in life," it says in an email. "High blood pressure adds weight to the heart, and adapting to that stress leads to heart failure . "
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/2lnLSoy and http://bit.ly/2lsFzjD Journal of the American College of Cardiology, online, July 15, 2019.