High blood pressure before the age of 50 is dangerous later in life

Font Size:

Higher than normal blood pressure before the age of 50 has been linked to more extensive brain damage in later life.

A study from the University of Oxford, published in the European Heart Journal, analysed damage to the small blood vessels in the brain, associated with “increased risk of stroke, dementia, physical disabilities, depression and a decline in thinking abilities”.

“Not all people develop these changes as they age, but they are present in more than 50 per cent of patients over the age of 65 and most people over the age of 80, even without high blood pressure, but it is more likely to develop with higher blood pressure and more likely to become severe,” said Dr Karolina Wartolowska, a clinical research fellow at the University’s Centre for Prevention of Stroke and Dementia.

“We made two important findings. First, the study showed that diastolic blood pressure (the blood pressure between heart beats) in people in their 40s and 50s is associated with more extensive brain damage years later. Many people may think of hypertension and stroke as diseases of older people, but our results suggest that if we would like to keep a healthy brain well into our 60s and 70s, we may have to make sure our blood pressure, including the diastolic blood pressure, stays within a healthy range when we are in our 40s and 50s.

“The second important finding is that any increase in blood pressure beyond the normal range is associated with a higher amount of white matter hyperintensities (WMH). This suggests that even slightly elevated blood pressure before it meets the criteria for treating hypertension has a damaging effect on brain tissue.”

WMHs show up on MRI brain scans as brighter regions, indicating damage to the small blood vessels in the brain.

“Our results suggest that to ensure the best prevention of WMHs in later life, control of diastolic blood pressure, in particular, may be required in early midlife, even for diastolic blood pressure below 90mmHg, while control of systolic blood pressure (maximum blood pressure reached each time the heart beats) may be more important in late life.

“The long time interval between the effects of blood pressure in midlife and the harms in late life emphasises how important it is to control blood pressure long term, and that research has to adapt to consider the very long-term effects of often asymptomatic problems in midlife.”

What is high blood pressure and why is it important? (healthdirect.gov.au)

“As blood is pumped by the heart around the body, the pressure with which it pushes against the walls of blood vessels changes. When the heart is squeezing blood into the arteries, the pressure is high. When the heart is relaxed, the pressure is lower.

“Your blood pressure is a measurement taken of the highest reading and the lowest reading. It is given as 2 figures – highest (systolic) over lowest (diastolic).

Systolic: pressure in the artery as the heart contracts. This is represented by the top, higher number.

Diastolic: pressure in the artery when the heart is relaxing and being filled with blood. This is represented by the bottom, lower number.

“Your blood pressure is high if the reading is higher than 140/90 mmHg, which is considered to put you at higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke (cardiovascular disease). That is, you have high blood pressure if the higher figure (systolic) is higher than 140, or the lower figure (diastolic) is higher than 90, or both. This is also known as hypertension. More than one third of Australians over the age of 18 have high blood pressure.

“Your blood pressure is important because if it is too high, it affects the blood flow to your organs. Over the years, this increases your chances of developing heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, diabetes, eye disease, erectile dysfunction and other conditions.”

The definitive cause of high blood pressure is unknown. However, risk factors include: a sedentary lifestyle (with little or no exercise); smoking; being overweight; a diet with a high salt intake; high blood cholesterol; a family history of high blood pressure; high alcohol consumption; diabetes.

How to lower blood pressure without pills

By far the most effective means of reducing elevated blood pressure is to lose weight, says Harvard Health. Even losing as little as four kilograms can lower your blood pressure.

Weed out high-sodium foods by reading labels carefully; there’s lots of it in processed foods. It is easy to reach the daily limit of 1500 milligrams (mg) of sodium daily for individuals with high blood pressure – that’s less than a teaspoon of salt.

Regular exercise helps make your heart stronger and more efficient at pumping blood, which lowers the pressure in your arteries.

In a week, 150 minutes of moderate exercise, such as walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, such as running, can help lower blood pressure and improve your heart health

Potassium is a mineral that helps your body get rid of sodium (salt). It also eases pressure on your blood vessels. Modern diets have increased most people’s sodium intake while decreasing potassium intake.

To get a better balance of potassium to sodium in your diet, focus on eating fewer processed foods and more fresh, whole foods.

Foods that are particularly high in potassium include:

  • vegetables, especially leafy greens, tomatoes, potatoes, and sweet potatoes
  • fruit, including melons, bananas, avocados, oranges, and apricots
  • dairy, such as milk and yogurt
  • tuna and salmon
  • nuts and seeds
  • beans.

Do you know your blood pressure? Do you have problems with high blood pressure? Were you aware of the link to brain damage in later life?

If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.

Join YourLifeChoices today
and get this free eBook!

By joining YourLifeChoices you consent that you have read and agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy


Blood pressure drug linked to increased cancer risk in older Aussies

Drug's properties makes skin more sensitive to the sun, scientists say.

Common medicines found to significantly reduce dementia risk

Link found between blood pressure drugs and a decreased risk of dementia.

Midlife blood pressure linked to dementia in later life

UK research reveals a common midlife condition is linked to dementia.

Written by Will Brodie


Total Comments: 10
  1. 0

    Dan’s lockdown here in Vic helped me lose a bit of weight, helping bring my blood pressure down. Thanks Dan. 🙂

  2. 0

    Worrying about blood pressure will raise your blood pressure.
    It depends who you ask: some doctors are not at all concerned if your age +100 is your top number, but others will stick to a traditional number – same for everyone. Who can you believe? The factors include not checking the blood pressure in the afternoon, and not sitting in a bloody waiting room for hours prior to the test.
    Rule 1: always try to get the first Dr appointment for the day.
    Rule 2: get another opinion
    Rule 3: don’t trust just one test result – do another. Be shocked at the difference.

    I don’t stress about it at all, but exercise and good diet might help. Not having a brain is good too.

  3. 0

    Some of the vegetables they are saying you should consume in fact are BAD for you all [Night Shade Vegetables ] like tomatoes/red & green peppers/eggplants/many more are very Bad for you but if you are OK having OSTEOARTHRITIS and taking daily [Drugs] keep eating Night Shade Vegetables. It’s up to you, not your Doctor to do the research on what you should be consuming. It’s better to do research than get a prescription.NO PAIN will be your GAIN.

  4. 0

    I definitely experience white coat syndrome. My doctor therefore asks me to record my blood pressure at home between appointments. I take three readings (morning, midday and night) over any three consecutive days, and present him with the results that he can compare with the reading taken in his surgery which is always a bit higher than one would like. So far so good.

  5. 0

    My battle with Emphysema started over 9 years ago which I finally got rid of with the help of organic treatment..I had the disease for over 9 + years..I’m in a good health now because Multivitamin herbal cure formula improve my condition drastically..the last time I went to the emergency PFT which is this year January I was told that my lung and breathing are working perfectly which was the help of this herbal medication..I don’t have breathing problems anymore(Shortness of breath)..the Multivitamin herbal cure build up my lungs gradually after completing their prescription ,am able to cough it up no problem….I also met a lung specialist who told me that my lung is working perfectly so we don’t have to give it up because today i am here telling the world about my final victory with emphysema with the help of Multivitamin herbal care and the help of their Natural herbal products and roots to cure and heal me completely from emphysema disease within the range of 15 weeks that I used the herbal medication. And if you have this kind of illness , there is no need to waste money on Corticosteroids or Zephyr Valve, or allowing doctors to waste their time on you instead why don’t you go get herbal products from multivitamincare.org use it and see for yourself And they also cures and heal other diseases, it very important you recommend this formula to anyone at there suffering from this illness people don’t know they exist .



continue reading

Age Pension

Important details on how your income stream information is updated

Updating Income Stream InformationHi everyone, I wanted to chat about income stream reviews and how they may affect your Age...


Spinach and Parmesan Crustless Quiche

In The Midlife Method, food and lifestyle writer Sam Rice explores why it is so much harder to lose weight...


Jenny Eclair: 'Middle-aged women aren't invisible, they are just ignor

"I've had a lapse back into the menopause today," Jenny Eclair declares at the start of our interview. "I had...

Aged Care

Is your loved one in aged care during the pandemic? Here are seven ideas to make things easier if lockdown strikes again

Many families have faced the stress of having a loved one in aged care during this anxious time of COVID-19....

Health & Ageing

How The Midlife Method author keeps her health on track

In The Midlife Method, food and lifestyle writer Sam Rice explores why it is so much harder to lose weight...


How to … tell if you're oversleeping and what to do

An adult needs between seven-and-a-half to nine hours of sleep each night. If you're consistently sleeping for longer than this...


Hand in hand at London Zoo with a simian friend

YourLifeChoices' 91-year-old columnist Peter Leith recalls an encounter of the simian kind during a visit to London Zoo back in...


Retirement Made Simple

In this interview with podcast host John Deeks, the 80-year-old offers pearls of wisdom on all matters retirement: the sea...