Youthful Stress Leads to Hypertension

Published Online: Wednesday, September 1, 2004
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A 20-year study has determined that highstrung young adults are more likely to have high blood pressure later in life, reported a study published in the on-line edition of Circulation (June 21, 2004). For the study, the researchers looked at statistics from the nationwide CARDIA study. The study has been monitoring the heart health of Americans since the mid-1980s. At the beginning of the study, the 5115 participants were 18 to 30 years old and lived in Chicago, Minneapolis, Birmingham, and Oakland.

During the early phases of the study, the researchers examined how the blood pressure of the participants responded to 3 "stress tests." The tests included plunging a hand into ice-cold water for 45 seconds, participating in a brain-straining exercise in which they had to trace the shape of a star using its mirror image, and playing a 1980s-era video game. Throughout the study, the researchers checked the participants blood pressure every few years. In the current study, the research team looked at the blood pressure levels of the remaining participants 13 years after the stress tests. The participants were in their 30s and 40s at this time.

Granted it is natural for blood pressure to rise during stressful events, however, it increased significantly in some of the young adults. Also, these participants seemed especially susceptible to stressful events, which did not forecast good news for their future health. Furthermore, they developed high blood pressure earlier than their counterparts.



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