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.
Did You Know?
Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will cover preventive care services, including blood pressure and cholesterol screenings, at no cost to you. Learn more.
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. It is called the systolic pressure. The bottom number is the
pressure when the heart relaxes and fills with blood. It is called the diastolic pressure. 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. For good health, less is best. Most people shouldn't eat more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day.
If you have diabetes or chronic kidney disease, if you are African-American, or if you are older than age 50, try to limit the amount of sodium you eat to less than 1,500 mg a day.1 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