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is a blood pressure level that is slightly higher than normal. Blood pressure is the force of your blood pressing against the walls of your arteries. Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80. Prehypertension is a blood pressure level of 120/80 to 139/89 in adults and adolescents. Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a blood pressure level of 140/90 or above. Prehypertension increases your risk for chronic (long-term) high blood pressure. Prehypertension and high blood pressure increase your risk for heart and blood vessel disease. Over time, this increases your risk for a life-threatening heart attack, stroke, heart failure, or kidney disease.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
    • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest that lasts longer than 5 minutes or returns
    • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
    • Trouble breathing
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat, especially with chest pain or trouble breathing
  • You have any of the following signs of a stroke:
    • Numbness or drooping on one side of your face
    • Weakness in an arm or leg
    • Confusion or difficulty speaking
    • Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have a severe headache.
  • You have sudden vision changes.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have been taking blood pressure medicine and your blood pressure is still higher than your healthcare provider says it should be.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Manage prehypertension:

  • Eat less sodium (salt). Do not add sodium to your food. Limit foods that are high in sodium, such as canned foods, potato chips, and cold cuts. Your healthcare provider may suggest that you follow the DASH Eating Plan. This eating plan is low in sodium, unhealthy fats, and total fat. It is high in potassium, calcium, and fiber.
  • Exercise to maintain or reach a healthy weight. Exercise at least 30 minutes per day, on most days of the week. This will help decrease your blood pressure. Ask your healthcare provider about the best exercise plan for you.
  • Decrease stress. This may help lower your BP. Learn ways to relax, such as deep breathing or listening to music.
  • Limit alcohol. Ask your healthcare provider if it is safe for you to drink alcohol. Women should limit alcohol to 1 drink a day. Men should limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can increase your blood pressure and cause lung damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
  • Blood pressure medicine may be needed if you have diabetes, heart disease, or kidney disease.
  • Manage your other health conditions. Take your diabetes and cholesterol medicine as directed. Go to regular follow-up visits with your healthcare provider to manage these conditions.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.