A new study published by the American College of Cardiology has revealed that high cholesterol and blood pressure in young adults can substantially increase their risk of heart disease later in life. The effect was found to occur independently of whether these risk factors persisted into later adulthood.
The study was focused on data from six large studies involving more than 36,000 individuals. The researchers looked for any exposure to elevated blood pressure and high cholesterol among participants when they were between the ages of 18 and 39. Next, the team analyzed the subsequent risk of coronary heart disease, heart failure, and stroke in the 17 years that followed.
The results showed that elevated low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels during young adulthood were associated with a 64-percent increased risk of coronary heart disease. High systolic blood pressure (SBP) was linked to a 37-percent increased risk of heart failure, while diastolic blood pressure (DBP) was linked to a 21-percent increased risk of heart failure.
None of the young adult exposures were found to be independently associated with strokes, but later life exposures to high blood pressure were found to be strong predictors of strokes.
“Our results add to accumulating evidence that young adulthood is a critical period when high blood pressure or cholesterol are particularly harmful. Maintaining optimal levels of blood pressure and LDL cholesterol throughout young adulthood could yield substantial lifetime cardiovascular disease prevention benefits,” said study senior author Dr. Andrew E. Moran of Columbia University.
“However, young adults are difficult to reach by way of traditional, clinic-based preventive programs – they are transitioning between pediatric and adult-centered models of care, they often lack health insurance or experience frequent gaps in insurance coverage. Young adult utilization of ambulatory medical care and adherence to preventive health guidelines are the lowest of any age group.”
The study is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
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