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Hypertension, Prehypertension in Youngsters Linked With Heart Enlargement

Hypertension and prehypertension in adolescents and young adults was associated with a higher risk of having an abnormally enlarged heart//, researchers report in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

In a study of American Indians, average age 26.5, those with hypertension or prehypertension were more likely to have changes in the heart structure associated with increased cardiovascular risk: higher left ventricular wall thickness, higher left ventricular mass and higher prevalence of left ventricular hypertrophy. The prevalence of left ventricular hypertrophy was three times higher among those with hypertension and two times higher among those with prehypertension, compared to those with normal blood pressure.

Left ventricular hypertrophy is an abnormal thickening of the muscles of the heart's left ventricle (main pumping chamber). It is associated with heart and blood vessel complications, such as heart failure.

"The findings are a wake-up call for increased preventive measures to head off heart disease with lifestyle modifications, such as reducing caloric intake and increasing physical activity in this population," said Richard B. Devereux, M.D., senior study author and professor of medicine at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City.

"At these younger ages, the increasing prevalence of early-onset hypertension and prehypertension is associated with changes in the heart that are related to worsened prognosis for heart disease, disability and death," he said.

Prehypertension is defined as systolic blood pressure higher than 120 mmHg but lower than 140 mmHg, or a diastolic pressure greater than 80 mmHg but lower than 90 mmHg, or both. Hypertension is defined as a systolic blood pressure greater than 140 mmHg or a diastolic blood pressure greater than 90 mmHg. Prehypertension is a relatively new category of blood pressure established by the Seventh Report of the Join
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