24 June 2015
A new study has found that small increases in blood pressure could pose a risk of heart failure later in life for young people.
The research, conducted by a team at John Hopkins University, looked at 2,500 men and women over a period of 25 years and found that mild elevations could lead to subclinical heart damage by middle age, which often leads to heart failure.
The report, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, suggests that pressure below the normal threshold for concern could trigger heart damage, affecting its ability to contract and relax.
According to the researchers, the findings are especially troubling because they came from a group of patients where the vast majority had no hypertension.
Dr João Lima said the results suggest heart muscle may be more "exquisitely sensitive" to the impact of even subtle elevations in blood pressure than previously thought.
Dr Lima, who is a professor of medicine and radiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of cardiovascular imaging at its Heart and Vascular Institute, said this means patients can have the heart function of a 75-year-old by the time they are 45, despite never experiencing hypertension.