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The Dangers of High-Normal Blood Pressure (Prehypertension)

High-normal blood pressure, also referred to as “prehypertension”, is more common in men than women. Prehypertension is defined by blood pressure readings with a systolic pressure from 120 to 139 mm Hg or a diastolic pressure from 80 to 89 mm Hg. Readings greater than or equal to 140/90 mm Hg are considered hypertension.

At the Copeman Healthcare Centre we consider readings higher than 128/80mmHg to be clinically significant. Prehypertension is the precursor to a hypertension diagnosis. As prehypertension does not cause any symptoms, the only way to detect prehypertension is to keep track of your blood pressure readings. You can check your blood pressure when you see your doctor, at home with a blood pressure monitoring device, or at a pharmacy.

Research shows that a person with prehypertension will develop true hypertension (high blood pressure) within 2-4 years unless therapeutic lifestyle changes are implemented. The contributing factors for prehypertension include: being overweight, leading a sedentary lifestyle, consuming too much sodium, smoking and drinking too much alcohol. These same risk factors accelerate the elevation of blood pressure into the realm of hypertension. Certain conditions such as atherosclerosis, sleep apnea, kidney disease, adrenal disease and thyroid disease also increase your risk for developing prehypertension.

Increased blood pressure leads to a greater risk of cardiovascular disease. It is of paramount importance that you make lifestyle choices that help you maintain the correct blood pressure level: eat nutritious, low sodium meals; maintain a healthy body weight; manage stress through relaxation and other disengagement techniques; limit alcohol intake and increase physical activity.