Young adults with blood pressure near the high end of the “normal blood pressure” range might need to start watching what they eat, exercise and take medication.

According to a new US study, patients whose blood pressure fall below 140/90 – the benchmark for a diagnosis for hyperextension – still face significant risk of heart failure if their blood pressure is on the high end of 130/80.

The top number, or systolic pressure, measures the force from the heart as it contracts; the bottom diastolic number measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart relaxes between contractions. Desired blood pressure is less than 130/80 and a person with a reading that tops 140/90 is considered to have hypertension.

The study of 2,479 young adults over a 25-year period was published this week in the Journal Of The American College Of Cardiology.

“A number of patients in our study had high-normal blood pressure in their 20s and 30s, but by the time they were 45, they had the heart function of a 75-year-old,” said the study’s principal investigatr Professor Joao Lima of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The study suggested that “long-term blood pressure control in early young adulthood may be important to prevent coronary heart disease”.

Cardiologists in Singapore were not surprised by the findings, saying that hypertension is a known major risk factor for heart problems.

They said it was expected that damage to the heart increases as blood pressure goes up.

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