Body weight trumps other factors in maintaining low blood pressure

By: Daniel Allar

A 25-year study of young adults transitioning to middle age revealed maintaining a healthy weight was more important in blood pressure control than other common health behaviors.

Specifically, participants who kept a body mass index of less than 25 kilograms per square meter were 41 percent less likely to have increasing blood pressure as they aged.

Researchers also analyzed the impacts of never smoking, zero to moderate alcohol consumption, exercising 150 minutes or more per week and eating a healthy diet in the 4,630 study participants. Results were presented Sept. 14 at the American Heart Association (AHA) Council on Hypertension, AHA Council on Kidney in Cardiovascular Disease, American Society of Hypertension Joint Scientific Sessions in San Francisco.

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Women with high-risk pregnancies far more prone to heart disease

Women who have high-risk pregnancies or complications in childbirth are up to eight times more likely to suffer heart disease later in life. And many mothers — and their doctors — are unaware of the danger. Emerging research shows heart disease is a long-term threat for women who develop diabetes or high blood pressure during pregnancy, for example, or those whose babies are born prematurely or precariously small.

Yet doctors do not typically advise women about their risk or counsel them to watch for symptoms, said Noel Bairey Merz, a cardiologist and director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles. Bairey Merz said doctors can see heart attacks and strokes coming, often 10 or 20 years ahead of time, if they are on the lookout. “This isn’t rocket science,” she said. “We just have to figure out how we can find the women who are at risk.”

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