Take care of your heart while you're still young, that's the big message from doctors.
Having higher-than-normal cholesterol and blood pressure levels before age 40 can raise your risk of heart disease later in life, according to a new study.
The study also found that a high level of systolic blood pressure in young people was associated an increased risk of heart failure after the age of 40.
Doctors say more preventative efforts are needed among younger adults.
Women and African Americans were most affected.
"Women and African Americans seek care later. Often times because they don't have a choice," said Dr. Aaron Horne of Medical City Richland Hills. "They take care of their husbands, their children, and they don't seek care and it matters because what we know, that the data demonstrates, that not being able to take care of things that are manageable leads to increase morbidity and mortality -- people dying earlier."
Doctors say the bottom line is waiting until the middle age years to improve diet and exercise can't always reverse the damage done during our younger years.