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Youngsters with high blood pressure may be at an increased risk of stroke as well as damage to the kidneys and brain later in life, a new study warns. Researchers from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre in the US looked at whether otherwise healthy isolated systolic hypertension (ISH) patients actually have a cardiovascular problem. They suggest that the common approach of ignoring higher systolic blood pressure levels in younger adults may be wrong. Isolated systolic hypertension (ISH) occurs in people aged between 18 and 49 who exhibit systolic blood pressure of 140 or higher (versus the optimal of under 120), but a normal diastolic pressure of around 80. Systolic pressure is the top number in a blood pressure reading and diastolic is the bottom number. Researchers took cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) pictures of about 2,001 participants' hearts to assess the condition of the aorta - the major artery that carries oxygenated blood from the heart to the body. They found that a section of the aorta that leads directly from the heart, called the proximal aorta, was the part which stiffened in young individuals with high systolic blood pressure. "The findings are important because although young people rarely have heart attacks or strokes, the incidence of isolated systolic hypertension in Americans 18 to 39 more than doubled over the last two decades and is now estimated to be about five per cent," Wanpen Vongpatanasin from UT Southwestern said. Although the condition is commonly treated in elderly patients, some physicians have avoided treating it in younger patients, thinking the higher systolic reading was an anomaly related to youth that would self-correct, or perhaps even a sign of a stronger heart since it sometimes shows up in high school athletes, researchers said. The study was published in the journal Hypertension.
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