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Being Young and Sedentary Raises Hypertension Risk Later
Date:6/1/2010

20-year study found if young adults were more fit, 34% of high blood pressure cases could be prevented

TUESDAY, June 1 (HealthDay News) -- Low levels of physical activity and fitness significantly increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, a 20-year study of young adults shows.

The study, released online June 1 in advance of publication in the July print issue of the journal Hypertension, found that about one-third of all high blood pressure cases could be prevented with increased physical fitness.

"Those who were the least physically fit, as determined by the amount of time on a treadmill and self-report, were more likely to develop hypertension," said study author Mercedes Carnethon, an assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

As many as one in three Americans has high blood pressure, also called hypertension, according to the most recent estimates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke and kidney disease, according to the CDC.

Regular physical activity is one way that you can help keep your blood pressure at normal levels, and the CDC recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week.

But, researchers wondered, could your levels of physical activity and fitness as a young adult affect your risk of developing high blood pressure later in life?

To answer that question, 4,618 men and women between 18 and 30 years old were recruited for a long-term study of cardiovascular disease risk factors. Study volunteers completed a treadmill test and a physical activity questionnaire when the study began. In addition, their overall health was assessed at six follow-up appointments over 20 years.

Just over 1,000 people in the study developed high blood pressure, which was defined as
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