Why should I control early high blood pressure?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Wait-and-see wisdom isn't heart smart at any age, according to two reports I think should be must-reads in every doctor's office and at every kitchen table. Here's why:

If you ignore early blood pressure increases, you ignore heart damage. The first study explains how blood pressure "creep-up" in your 30s, 40s, or 50s enlarges your heart, even if you're otherwise healthy. This finding got a lot of attention at an international health meeting because so many docs still choose to "watch" rising blood pressure in middle-aged people whose overall risk for heart trouble looks low. You shouldn't do that -- and neither should your doc!

If you keep your blood pressure numbers healthy during middle age, you slash your risk for big trouble later on. The second study shows that high blood pressure at age 55 puts a guy's lifetime risk for a "heart event" at 70%, and a woman's risk at 50%. For both men and women, healthy blood pressure levels between the ages of 40 and 50 lower the odds for heart disease by nearly 50%.

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