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Stressed out teens face hypertension risk

Young adult stress linked to hypertension
Photo: Young adult stress linked to hypertension
Research has linked low stress resilience in the teenage years to a heightened risk of developing hypertension later in life.

Young adults who are easily stressed are more likely to have high blood pressure in later life, researchers have found.

The study, published in the journal Heart, examined more than 1.5 million 18-year-old men who were conscripted to the military in Sweden between 1969 and 1997.

When the young adults entered military service they were required to undergo psychological testing - including a 30-minute examination to determine their resilience to stress.

While none of the men included in the study had high blood pressure at the start of their military service, by 2012 researchers found that 93,028 were diagnosed with hypertension.

Using national disease registry data, the researchers found that a low stress resilience score at the age of 18 was associated with a heightened risk of developing high blood pressure in later life.
Men who were deemed the most susceptible to stress had a more than 40 per cent heightened risk of the condition than those who had the highest resilience to stress.

It is estimated that one in four adults in England has hypertension. It can increase a person's risk of heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, stroke or dementia.

While previous research has linked elevated stress levels to high blood pressure it is thought that this is the first study to link low stress resilience in early adulthood to hypertension in later life.

The authors say that the findings could lead to "more effective preventative interventions" for those who are more prone to stress in their younger adult years.

They also found that men with a combination of low stress resilience and a high BMI (body mass index) in their youth had a more than threefold risk of hypertension in later life.

"We found that low stress resilience was associated with higher risk of developing hypertension and accounted for more cases among those with high BMI," they wrote.

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