Prehypertension refers to slightly increased blood pressure. A blood pressure has two numbers: the first measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats and the second measures the pressure of the arteries between beats. Prehypertension occurs when levels range from 120-139mmHg over 80-89mmHg. It is a warning sign that an individual can get high blood pressure in the future if he or she doesn’t start making healthier lifestyle choices. Both prehypertension and high blood pressure increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure.Weight loss, exercise and other healthy lifestyle changes can often help control prehypertension and decrease the risks associated with it.



Prehypertension doesn't cause symptoms. The only way to detect prehypertension is to monitor and control blood pressure levels during a doctor’s visit or at home with a monitoring device.



Any factor that increases pressure against the artery walls can lead to prehypertension. Certain underlying conditions are believed to cause blood pressure levels to rise, which in turn leads to prehypertension. These conditions include:  

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Kidney disease
  • Adrenal disease
  • Thyroid disease

Certain medications (birth control pills, cold remedies, over the counter pain relievers and others) can also cause blood pressure to temporarily rise.

Risk factors

Certain factors that can increase the risk for prehypertension include:

·         Age(more common in younger adults than in older adults)

·         Being overweight

·         Being male (more common in men than in women)

·         Being of African American race

·         Being physically inactive

·         Being a smoker

·         Having a family history of high blood pressure

·         Having high levels of sodium and low levels of potassium in the body

·         Drinking too much alcohol

·         Having certain chronic conditions (kidney disease, diabetes and sleep apnea)



The term prehypertension is used by doctors to illustrate a time where an individual needs to start making healthier life choices such as eating healthier foods or starting to exercise regularly. Prehypertension itself doesn't often have complications, however it is likely to worsen and develop into high blood pressure (hypertension) if certain preventative measures aren’t taken.  

High blood pressure can damage the organs and increase the risk of several conditions including heart attack, heart failure, stroke, aneurysms and kidney failure.



Treatment options recommended for prehypertension often making healthier lifestyle changes. If an individual has prehypertension accompanied by diabetes, kidney disease or cardiovascular disease, a doctor may recommend blood pressure medication in addition to lifestyle changes. These changes may include:

·         Focusing on a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in salt

·         Maintaining a healthy weight

·         Losing weight if necessary

·         Exercising regularly

·         Limiting the alcohol intake

·         Quitting smoking



The same healthy lifestyle changes that are recommended for treating prehypertension also help prevent prehypertension and its progression to high blood pressure (hypertension). Preventative measures include:

  • Eating healthier foods
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Using less salt
  • Exercising regularly
  • Drinking less alcohol
  • Quitting smoking

The sooner healthier habits are adopted, the better.