What You Need to Know About Pre-Hypertension

Understanding Pre-Hypertension

If you think your blood pressure is OK because you’ve never heard the words, “You have high blood pressure,” think again. Pre-hypertension is a category for blood pressure that is higher than normal, but not high enough to be called high blood pressure. Blood pressure that is even a little bit higher than normal can put you at risk for heart attack, stroke and kidney disease. This is important to know because high blood pressure is very common among people with diabetes—2 out of 3 adults with diabetes also have high blood pressure.

Blood pressure range for pre-hypertension: 120/80 – 139/90

Decrease Your Blood Pressure

If you have pre-hypertension, work with your healthcare provider to take steps to lower it. The goal is to get your blood pressure numbers to 120/80 or lower (130/80 if you have diabetes). If you get your blood pressure within a healthy range, you may not need to take medicine. Talk with your healthcare provider about steps you can take to keep from getting hypertension. Take a look at the guide below for some ideas.

What You Can Do

  1. Increase physical activity. Get your healthcare provider’s approval if you’re not used to being active. Start by walking a few minutes every day. Try to be active for at least 30 minutes, five times every week.
  2. Eat healthy foods. Enjoy fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy foods. Try to limit the amount of fat and saturated fat you eat.
  3. Lose weight if you are overweight. Even losing 5-10 pounds can lower your blood pressure or help prevent high blood pressure.
  4. Eat less salt and high-sodium foods. Limit your sodium to 1,500 mg per day to try to lower your blood pressure. Limit your alcohol to no more than two drinks per day for men and one for women.
  5. Learn what your blood pressure is. If your blood pressure is even just a little bit high, take action. Your healthcare provider or pharmacist can answer any questions you may have. A few changes in your lifestyle now can help you control your blood pressure in the future.

Reviewed by Robert Ehrman, MD

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