Observational study with young adults identifies indicators for midlife stroke

A man takes his blood pressure reading at home.

For every 100 incidents of stroke, which happens when blood flow to the brain is inhibited or a blood vessel ruptures, 10 to 15 cases occur in adults ages 18-50. To identify indicators for stroke in early adulthood and midlife, researchers followed 5,079 adults, ages 18-30, for 30 years. The study started in 1985-1986 and participants checked in every two to five years. One-hundred study participants experienced a fatal or non-fatal stroke, which occurred at around age 50.

The researchers found stage 2 hypertension, high blood pressure levels that often require treatment, helped predict stroke incidents among study participants. They also found Black men and women had a four-times higher incident of stroke, even among participants with normal blood pressure levels, compared to white men and women in the study.

The researchers shared analyses that found stage 2 hypertension at any point in time helped predict future stroke incidents, while elevated blood pressure had a similar effect for participants in their 40s. The authors highlighted the importance of primary prevention, such as
heart-healthy living, early in life and of patients working with a physician to support optimal blood pressure levels. The research is part of the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, supported by the NHLBI, and appears in the journal Hypertension.