Start monitoring your blood pressure early

(CNN) - A new study finds that monitoring a person's blood pressure should start decades earlier than most people think.

Keeping track of your blood pressure is not just for old folks. Monitoring your levels as a young adult may help reduce the risk for heart disease later in life, according to the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers monitored blood pressure readings of more then 4,500 men and women ages 18 to 30 at the beginning of the study. For 25 years, scientists followed this group, keeping track of changes in their blood pressure.

Those who had the highest levels at the beginning of the study, even though considered in the normal range, were more likely to develop high blood pressure in middle age. And they were four times more likely to get clogged arteries from plaque build up, sometimes called hardening of the arteries.

This condition can cause blood vessels to narrow, cutting off blood flow, which can lead to a heart attack.

What does this mean for you? Experts say pay attention to your blood pressure early in life so that if your readings start to climb, you can make changes in lifestyle, diet or get on medication if needed to reduce your risks as you age.

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