HealthDay News — Young men with a resting heart rate and blood pressure that are elevated – but still within normal range – appear more likely to develop a wide range of mental illnesses later in their lives, according to a study published online October 26 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Antti Latvala, PhD, of the University of Helsinki, and colleagues reviewed health data for more than one million Swedish men whose resting heart rate and blood pressure were measured when they were drafted into the military between 1969 and 2010. Average age was 18. The research team compared that initial measure against 45 years’ worth of follow-up data, which included diagnoses of mental illness.

Compared to peers with a heart rate below 62 beats a minute, young men with a resting heart rate above 82 beats a minute had a 69% increased risk of developing obsessive-compulsive disorder; 21% increased risk of schizophrenia; and 18% increased risk of anxiety disorders. The researchers found similar associations between elevated blood pressure and risk for mental illness. For example, men with diastolic blood pressure greater than 77mmHg had a 30 to 40% higher risk for obsessive-compulsive disorder than men with diastolic blood pressure lower than 60mm g.

“Differences in autonomic nervous system functioning may predate or represent an early marker of psychiatric disorders,” the authors write.

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