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Prehypertension (Elevated Blood Pressure)



is a blood pressure level that is elevated, or slightly higher than normal. Blood pressure is the force of your blood pressing against the walls of your arteries. Normal blood pressure is 119/79 or lower. Prehypertension is a blood pressure level of 120/80 to 129/80. 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.

Blood Pressure Readings

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
    • You may also have any of the following:
      • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
      • Shortness of breath
      • Nausea or vomiting
      • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat
  • 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:

The goal is to lower your blood pressure into the normal range. Talk to your healthcare provider about these and other lifestyle changes you may need to make. Lifestyle changes can help prevent the need for medicine to lower your blood pressure.

  • Check your blood pressure as directed. Your healthcare provider will tell you how often to check your blood pressure. Regular checks can help you monitor your blood pressure levels and make lifestyle changes if needed. Your provider may want you to keep a record of your blood pressure readings. Bring the record with you to follow-up appointments.
    How to take a Blood Pressure
  • 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.

  • Follow the meal plan recommended by your healthcare provider. 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.
    Walking for Exercise
  • Decrease stress. This may help lower your blood pressure. 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 cannot lower your blood pressure.
  • Manage any other health conditions you have. 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.

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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.

Learn more about Prehypertension (Elevated Blood Pressure) (Ambulatory Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.