Prehypertension Overview

Including prehypertension definition, symptoms, treatment, diet, prevention and medication



Pre-hypertension Definition

Prehypertension is a term that is fairly new in hypertension related terminology. It refers to systolic blood pressure numbers of greater than 120 to 139mmHg and diastolic readings of greater than 80 to 89mmHg. A closer look will show that these readings represents what was formally deemed as normal or high normal blood pressure.

First introduced in 2003 at the American Society of Hypertension, this term resulted in intensive discussions and debate. It is part of a series of new stages of hypertension namely stage 1 hypertension and stage 2 hypertension. Some experts objected this new categorization of pre-hypertension on the basis that it would make people who were previously not sick considered sick. This would impact an individual's employability, for example, his or her general life as well as other services such as insurance cover.

Despite the fierce opposition the new terminology was adopted at the strength of scientific research showing that previously considered normal and high normal blood pressure levels still contained a significant risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Experts noted that by introducing this new categorization of hypertension there was progress in bringing prehypertension to the attention of doctors and the general public for better hypertension prevention.

Individuals with pre-hypertension are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease such as heart disease, heart failure, stroke, heart attack and high blood pressure. It can be noted that CVD events associated with pre-hypertension is relatively low. However the morbidity, mortality and health care costs attributable to pre-hypertension is significant were there is a huge number of people with pre-hypertension.

It turns out that a huge number of people in any given population are actually people with pre-hypertension. In the United States an estimated 31 percent of people have the condition. The prevalence of pre-hypertension is clearly higher than that of high blood pressure itself. Individuals who are overweight or obese are at risk of pre-hypertension condition progressing faster to hypertension stage 1 or stage 2. Surprisingly women appear to be less likely to have the condition. About 23 percent of women against 40 percent of men.

Also surprisingly yet satisfactorily explainable, elderly members of society aged above 60 are less likely to have pre-hypertension. The explanation is that by this age most of the people would have already developed hypertension. Studies show that pre-hypertension progresses to hypertension at a rate of 19 percent over four years. This is a significantly high rate of progression. A particular study showed a 40 percent progression over only two years. What doctors know is that the speed at which it progresses is related to the blood pressure and age of the individual.

Prehypertension Symptoms

Primary hypertension often presents absolutely no symptoms. In fact pre-hypertension is particularly infamous for showing no symptoms at all until high blood pressure advances even to hypertension stage 2. This is precisely the reason why there are more people with pre-hypertension than hypertension itself in many societies. The only way to detect pre-hypertension is to frequently take blood pressure measurements even at home using a home blood pressure monitor.

Some reports presents headache and blurred vision amongst others as symptoms of pre-hypertension. However, these symptoms and signs may be caused by other things which are not necessarily high blood pressure. Therefore they are not reliable signs and symptoms of pre-hypertension.

Prehypertension Treatment and Medication

Doctors have a strategy to manage the condition with the main aim of lowering blood pressure to within normal range, preventing a rise in blood pressure with age and also to prevent blood pressure related cardiovascular diseases. Hypertension medications such as diuretics and beta-blockers have not been widely applied in the treatment of the condition. Some studies have suggested that these pharmacological drugs may delay the progression to hypertension but without necessarily altering or preventing the progression to high blood pressure.

However, doctors have used high blood pressure meds to particularly treat patients with diabetic mellites and chronic kidney disease whose blood pressure is in the prehypertensive range of greater or equal to 130/80mmHg. Prehypertension treatment and medication for individuals with coronary heart disease and stroke using pharmacological agents is also beneficial.

There is much evidence pointing to the benefits of treating the condition using lifestyle changes such as dietary modifications, weight loss and reduction in sodium intake. The effects of these modifications when put together produce substantial results.

Prehypertension Diet and Prevention

Hypertension treatment relies very much on what the patient eats. As mentioned above it is inevitable that hypertensive individuals and those in the pre-hypertensive stage take much less sodium. Salt plays an important role in raising blood pressure. Pre-hypertension diet has less sodium. An important diet to consider for individuals in the pre-hypertension stage is the hypertension diet. This has low cholesterol and saturated fat which prevents the progression to hypertension.


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