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Prehypertension: Early warning signs!

Updated: Dec 6, 2022

Did you know that prehypertension is a warning sign for more serious complications?

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  • 0%What is prehypertension?

What is prehypertension? Where does prehypertension fit regarding hypotension and hypertension?

Prehypertension is another way of describing blood pressure. When blood pressure is high, it is classified as hypertension; when it is low, it is described as hypotension. Normal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg. However, there is a buffer before hypertension is diagnosed, and this period is referred to as prehypertension [1].

Prehypertensive blood pressure is the stage your blood pressure takes before developing hypertension (high blood pressure).

Prehypertensive blood pressure is from 221-139/81-89 mmHg [2].

Why is prehypertension important?

Identification of prehypertension is important for several reasons:

  • Warning signs for hypertension in the future

  • Increased risk for developing stroke, cardiovascular disease and kidney failure

  • Could be used as a screening tool for cognitive impairment [3]

  • Prehypertension can be treated, unlike hypertension, a lifelong illness requiring continual management.

What are the symptoms of prehypertension?

As for hypertension, we generally present asymptomatically (without symptoms) and only via random or routine blood pressure monitoring is a change in blood pressure identified.

Symptoms only really appear when prehypertension develops into hypertension.

Who is at risk and what causes prehypertension?

  • People with a family risk factor

  • Overweight or obese. However, those with lighter weights are also at risk of developing prehypertension

  • Cardiovascular disease, especially atherosclerosis (hardened blood vessels) [4]

  • Sedentary lifestyle [5, 6]

  • Poor, unbalanced diet [7, 8]

  • Other disease comorbidities, such as kidney issues [9]

What are the consequences of prehypertension?

  • Untreated can lead to hypertension (high blood pressure)

  • Aid in the worsening of cognitive impairment [3]

  • Development of other cardiovascular diseases

  • Increases risk for stroke, kidney disease and other diseases caused by elevated blood pressure [10]

How to manage or prevent prehypertension?

Much of the management of prehypertension is like hypertension. Prevention is aimed at strategies that lower blood pressure [1]. The management of prehypertension revolves around lifestyle changes:

Maintain a healthy weight (weight loss)

A healthy, balanced diet

Reduce sodium intake (sodium is high in processed foods)

More physically active [5, 6]

Stop using tobacco products

Restrict alcohol consumption [12]

However, pharmacological treatment of prehypertension is available, especially for those with diabetes or chronic kidney disease [1, 2].

Let's protect ourselves from these diseases, not treat them

Learn more about the consequences of hypotension and hypertension below...

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[1] Svetkey LP. Management of Prehypertension. Hypertension. 2005;45(6):1056-61.

[2] Chobanian AV. National High blood pressure education program committee: seventh report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure. Hypertension. 2003;42:1206-52.

[3] Forte G, De Pascalis V, Favieri F, Casagrande M. Effects of Blood Pressure on Cognitive Performance: A Systematic Review. Journal of Clinical Medicine. 2019;9(1):34.

[4] Washio M, Tokunaga S, Yoshimasu K, Kodama H, Liu Y, Sasazuki S, et al. Role of Prehypertension in the Development of Coronary Atherosclerosis in Japan. Journal of Epidemiology. 2004;14(2):57-62.

[5] Kelley GA, Kelley KS. Progressive Resistance Exercise and Resting Blood Pressure. Hypertension. 2000;35(3):838-43.

[6] Whelton SP, Chin A, Xin X, He J. Effect of Aerobic Exercise on Blood Pressure. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2002;136(7):493-503.

[7] Akita S, Sacks FM, Svetkey LP, Conlin PR, Kimura G. Effects of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet on the Pressure-Natriuresis Relationship. Hypertension. 2003;42(1):8-13.

[8] He J, Whelton PK, Appel LJ, Charleston J, Klag MJ. Long-Term Effects of Weight Loss and Dietary Sodium Reduction on Incidence of Hypertension. Hypertension. 2000;35(2):544-9.

[9] Hall JE, Mizelle HL, Hildebrandt DA, Brands MW. Abnormal pressure natriuresis. A cause or a consequence of hypertension? Hypertension. 1990;15(6_pt_1):547-59.

[10] Pimenta E, Oparil S. Prehypertension: epidemiology, consequences and treatment. Nature Reviews Nephrology. 2010;6(1):21-30.

[11] Stevens VJ, Obarzanek E, Cook NR, Lee IM, Appel LJ, Smith West D, et al. Long-Term Weight Loss and Changes in Blood Pressure: Results of the Trials of Hypertension Prevention, Phase II. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2001;134(1):1-11.

[12] Macmahon S. Alcohol consumption and hypertension. Hypertension. 1987;9(2):111-21.


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