(HealthDay News) — Patterns of higher blood pressure (BP) levels in young adulthood are associated with increased risk of coronary artery calcification (CAC) in middle age, according to research published in the February 5 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Norrina B. Allen, PhD, MPH, of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues analyzed prospective cohort data for 4,681 black and white men and women, aged 18–30 years at baseline, to assess the effect of long-term BP patterns on risk of cardiovascular disease. Mid-BP, a marker of coronary heart disease risk among younger populations, was calculated as (systolic BP + diastolic BP)/2.

The researchers found that, compared with those with a low-stable mid-BP trajectory, the adjusted odds ratios for having a CAC score of 100 Hounsfield units (HU) at year 25 of follow-up were 1.44 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.83 to 2.49) for the moderate-stable group, 1.86 (95% CI, 0.91 to 3.82) for the moderate-increasing group, 2.28 (95% CI, 1.24 to 4.18) for the elevated-stable group, and 3.70 (95% CI, 1.66 to 8.20) for the elevated-increasing group.

“The study by Allen and colleagues presents a novel approach for assessing coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease risk, and the data offer an important perspective to support a preventive approach to reduce coronary heart disease risk by demonstrating (1) the existence of widely different BP trajectories ranging from young adulthood through middle age and (2) the relationship of increasing BP trajectories within groups that are African-American, are obese, or have diabetes,” write the authors of an accompanying editorial.

One author disclosed financial ties to Merck and Takeda.

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