Prehypertension is blood
pressure that is higher than normal but not high enough to be
high blood pressure. It is a warning that your blood
pressure is going up.
Blood pressure is a measure of how hard
your blood pushes against the walls of your arteries. Blood pressure that is
too high (also called hypertension) harms your blood vessels. This raises your
kidney failure, and other health problems. But you can
take steps to get your blood pressure back to normal.
pressure is shown as two numbers, such as 120/80 (say "120 over 80"). The top
number is the pressure when the heart pumps blood. The bottom number is the
pressure when the heart relaxes and fills with blood. Normal blood pressure is
less than 120/80. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher. Prehypertension is
between 120/80 and 140/90. Your blood pressure can be too high even if only one
of the two numbers is high.
What makes blood pressure go up?
know the exact cause of high blood pressure. But they agree that some things
can make blood pressure go up. They include not getting enough exercise and
being overweight. Eating foods that have too much sodium (salt) and drinking
too much alcohol also can raise blood pressure.
What are the symptoms?
Blood pressure that is
higher than normal does not cause symptoms. Most people feel fine. They find
out they have higher-than-normal blood pressure during a routine exam or a
doctor visit for another problem.
How is prehypertension diagnosed?
A simple test
with a blood pressure cuff is all you need to find out your
blood pressure. The doctor or nurse puts the cuff around your arm and pumps air
into the cuff. The cuff squeezes your arm. The doctor or nurse takes your blood
pressure while letting the air out of the cuff.
pressure may be measured at two or more separate times to make sure that it is
higher than normal. This is because blood pressure goes up and down throughout
the day. Also, some people have higher blood pressure when they are in a
doctor's office but they have normal blood pressure at other times. This is
white-coat hypertension. If you think you may have
this, talk to your doctor about checking your blood pressure more often to see
if you really have high blood pressure.
How is it treated?
Many people can lower their
blood pressure with diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes. If those steps
don't lower your blood pressure enough, you can take medicine. But because you
are treating your blood pressure before it gets too high, lifestyle changes may
be all you need.
Here's what you can do to help get your blood
pressure back to normal.
Do not smoke or use other tobacco products.
If you do smoke, talk to your doctor about treatments that can help you
Lose weight if you are overweight. Losing as little as
10 lb (4.5 kg) can help lower
your blood pressure.
Eat a healthy diet. The DASH diet is an eating
plan that can help lower your blood pressure. DASH stands for Dietary
Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It focuses on eating foods that are high in
calcium, potassium, and magnesium. The DASH diet includes lots of fruits and
vegetables, as well as whole grains, fish, and poultry. Your doctor may suggest
that you talk to a dietitian if you need help planning what to
Cut back on salt. Some doctors recommend that you have no more
than 2,300 mg (milligrams) of sodium each day. Your doctor will tell you how
much you can have. Do not add salt to your food. Limit processed and canned
foods, such as soups, frozen meals, and packaged snacks.
alcohol to 1 drink a day for women and no more than 2
drinks a day for men. If your blood pressure tends to go up when you have
alcohol, your doctor may suggest that you do not drink any alcohol.
Try to do
moderate activity at least 2½ hours a week. Or try to
vigorous activity at least 1¼ hours a week. It's fine
to be active in blocks of 10 minutes or more throughout your day and
Other Places To Get Help
American Heart Association (AHA)
7272 Greenville Avenue
Dallas, TX 75231
Visit the American Heart Association (AHA) website for information on
physical activity, diet, and various heart-related conditions. You can search for information on heart disease and stroke, share information with friends and family, and use tools to help you make heart-healthy goals and plans. Contact the AHA to find your
nearest local or state AHA group. The AHA provides brochures and information
about support groups and community programs, including Mended Hearts, a
nationwide organization whose members visit people with heart problems and
provide information and support.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30333
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is
an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The CDC works
with state and local health officials and the public to achieve better health
for all people. The CDC creates the expertise, information, and tools that
people and communities need to protect their health—by promoting health,
preventing disease, injury, and disability, and being prepared for new health
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
P.O. Box 30105
Bethesda, MD 20824-0105
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
(NHLBI) information center offers information and publications about preventing
Diseases affecting the heart and circulation, such as heart
attacks, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, peripheral artery disease, and
heart problems present at birth (congenital heart diseases).
Diseases that affect the lungs, such as asthma, chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, sleep apnea, and
Diseases that affect the blood, such as anemia,
hemochromatosis, hemophilia, thalassemia, and von Willebrand disease.
Expert Panel on Integrated Guidelines for Cardiovascular Health and Risk Reduction in Children and Adolescents (2011). Expert panel on integrated guidelines for cardiovascular health and risk reduction in children and adolescents: Summary report. Pediatrics, 128(Suppl 5): S213–S256.
Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (2003). Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure JNC Express (NIH Publication No. 03–5233). Bethesda, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2008). 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (ODPHP Publication No. U0036). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Available online: http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/default.aspx.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.