A new study finds if your blood pressure continues to go up over time your chances of developing heart disease increase- especially if your blood pressure is higher at a younger age.

"If your blood pressure went up over the course of years from age 20 to 50 that there is a slightly increased risk of having heart disease," said Cleveland Clinic Cardiologist Dr. David Frid, who did not take part in the study.

Northwestern University researchers studied nearly 4,700 people. They recorded their blood pressure every three to five years for 25 years. They found the path a person's blood pressure takes in young adulthood varies, but people whose blood pressure was higher at a young age, and continued to increase as time went on, had greater odds of developing heart disease in middle age.

researchers say keeping tabs on blood pressure from an early age may help identify people with suspected, but undetected hardening or narrowing of the arteries, or atherosclerosis.

"You don't ignore your blood pressure when you're young," warned Frid. "You need to start thinking about it and then over the years you need to continue to have it checked every year or every two years to make sure it's not going up with time."

Complete findings for this study are in the Journal of the American Medical Association.