Video and Study: Prehypertension affects young ages, increases heart-disease risk. A doctor’s advice.

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

Today, I am excited to introduce a new video series from the American College of Physicians that highlights research findings from their journal, Annals of Internal Medicine, along with other pertinent medical news.

For each video we add (including this one), I will make comments here on the blog.

This week, the video explains a recent study on prehypertension–and finds that many develop the problem at a young age.

What is prehypertension?

If a patient of mine finds out their blood pressure is below 120/80 they usually ask if they should be worried, thinking 120/80 is ideal. My stock answer is no, they should be happy. If they feel good, and this is their regular reading (not from dehydration, blood loss, severe infections, etc.), the general consensus is the lower the blood pressure the lower the risk for cardiovascular disease. Of course, if the BP is consistently over 140/90, treatment needs to be considered.

But what about the in-between (systolic blood pressure between 120 and 140 and/or diastolic between 80 and 90)?

If you are in that range you are officially “prehypertensive.” The 2004 report by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has spoken. (Above that range is hypertension.)

The reason for the change was to remind everyone that people with prehypertension have twice the risk of developing hypertension; that the risk of heart disease and stroke progressively increases above 115/75; and that they think, at this level, you have a good chance to lower your BP to normal with “lifestyle changes.” These include regular exercise, normal-weight maintenance and cutting back on salt. Of course, you will probably want a second reading at a different time to make sure the one reading is not a fluke. Make sure you have been sitting for a few minutes and that the proper sized cuff is used.

The study this week’s video features reiterates the increased cardiovascular risk in prehypertension, and finds that it’s happening in younger people.

What to do about it

So keep up with your blood pressure. If you have a reading that is a little high, or a family history of hypertension, buy a good cuff. They cost under $100. Check it occasionally. No need to obsess. Your health-care provider may not mention it but if your reading is 140/90 or above, you need to take note and get busy with the lifestyle changes. In fact, why not save yourself the worry and start with them anyway?

Do you know your blood pressure or have you lowered it through lifestyle changes? Please share your story in the comments section below.

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6 Responses to “Video and Study: Prehypertension affects young ages, increases heart-disease risk. A doctor’s advice.”

  1. Joost Boers Says:

    I am currently experimenting to lower my blood pressure using food supplements as WIN Omeg3 and WIN CoQ10. I only am doing this for a short while but first impressino is that it works well. This in combination with weight loss and more exercise (which is not difficult as I nearly did not do any sport).

  2. Mark Salinas Says:

    No history in our family yet an important one to watch Good information. thanks you!

    Mark Salinass last blog post..Weekend Reminiscing

  3. Mark Salinas Says:

    No history in our family yet an important one to watch. Good information. Thank you!

    Mark Salinass last blog post..Weekend Reminiscing

  4. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H Says:

    Thanks Joost and Mark.
    I do have a family history of hypertension including myself. I have been able bring BP to normal with healthy eating, weight loss, low-salt and exercise.

    Remember, though, it is “silent killers”, so keep a check every few years anyway.

  5. James Hubbard’s My Family Doctor Blog » Blog Archive » Consumer Reports rates blood pressure monitors and glucose meters Says:

    [...] Others have elevated blood pressures at certain times of the day. If you have hypertension, prehypertension, or at high risk for getting it, you should consider getting your own cuff. Don’t take my [...]

  6. John Gatesby Says:

    You are correct! to keep the number 1 killer, the heart attack in check, it is important to keep a strict watch on the blood pressure, usually a change in the blood pressure and a visit to the doctor brings about a positive change in the life style that prevents heart related disorders.

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