Categories for Blood Pressure Levels in Adults
If you believe you have low or normal blood pressure, you may be off the mark. You might have prehypertension. The information below will help you find out where you stand and what you can do to control your blood pressure if you have prehypertension.
||Systolic blood pressure (mmHg)
||Diastolic blood pressure (mmHg)
||Lifestyle changes advised
||Drugs usually recommended
||Less than 120
||Less than 80
|Stage 1 hypertension
|Stage 2 hypertension
||160 or more
||100 or more
Source: Chobanian AV, Bakris GL, Black HR, et al. The seventh report of the Joint National Committee on prevention, detection, evaluation, and treatment of high blood pressure.
, or high blood pressure, is diagnosed when a blood pressure reading of 140/90 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) or greater is noted. The level must be seen on at least two readings to be officially diagnosed. The upper number is the systolic pressure when your heart contracts. The lower number is the diastolic pressure when your heart relaxes.
Prehypertensive patients are more likely to develop full-blown hypertension. They are also more likely to develop associated health problems.
kidney disease, and blindness are all associated with hypertension.
Studies indicate that cardiovascular risk increases as blood pressure rises above 115/75 mmHg. In fact, your risk doubles with every 20 mmHg rise in systolic pressure or with every 10 mmHg rise in diastolic pressure.
Who Should Get Screened?
According to the National High Blood Pressure Education Program, everyone should have a blood pressure check at least once every two years. If your blood pressure is above normal (that is, higher than 120/80 mmHg), your doctor may recommend that you have it rechecked more often. People at increased risk for hypertension may also need more frequent readings. Risk factors include a family history of the condition, African American race, above-normal weight, or age greater than 50.
Unlike hypertension, prehypertension treatment does not usually include drugs. The mainstay of therapy for prehypertension is lifestyle changes. These changes can help to slow or prevent progression to hypertension. The National High Blood Pressure Education Program recommends:
- Lose excess weight.
- Increase physical activity to at least 30 minutes most days of the week. First, get your doctor’s approval to make sure you are healthy enough for regular exercise.
- Eat a healthy diet. Include food that is low in fat and cholesterol and rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
- Reduce your daily salt intake.
- Limit alcohol use. This means no more than two drinks a day for men or one for women.