If your blood pressure is slightly elevated, eating better and moving more can help prevent prehypertension from becoming high blood pressure.
Elevated blood pressure is blood pressure that is slightly higher than what is considered ideal.
Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association divide blood pressure into four general categories.
Elevated blood pressure is considered a category, not an actual health condition like high blood pressure (hypertension). But elevated blood pressure tends to get worse over time unless it's properly managed. That's why it's important to regularly check and control your blood pressure. Healthy lifestyle habits, such as regular exercise and a healthy diet, can help prevent and control high blood pressure (hypertension).
Uncontrolled, elevated blood pressure and hypertension increase the risks of heart attacks and strokes. Some research says long-term elevated blood pressure can lead to changes in memory, language, thinking or judgment (cognitive decline).
Elevated blood pressure doesn't cause symptoms. The only way to detect it is to have regular blood pressure checks. Have your blood pressure measured when you visit your health care provider. You can also check it at home with a home blood pressure monitoring device.
A child's blood pressure should be checked during routine well-check appointments starting at age 3. If the child has high blood pressure, a measurement should be taken at every follow-up appointment.
Adults age 18 and older should have a blood pressure check at least every two years. You or your child might need more-frequent checks if you have elevated blood pressure or other risk factors for heart disease.
Anything that increases pressure on the artery walls can lead to elevated blood pressure. A buildup of fats, cholesterol, and other substances in and on the artery walls (atherosclerosis) can cause elevated blood pressure. But the opposite is also true. High blood pressure (hypertension) can cause atherosclerosis.
Sometimes, the cause of the elevated or high blood pressure isn't identified.
Conditions and medications that can cause elevated blood pressure include:
Talk to your health care provider about all the medicines you take, including those bought without a prescription.
Anyone can have elevated blood pressure, even children.
Risk factors for elevated blood pressure include:
Although elevated blood pressure and high blood pressure are most common in adults, children can get it, too. For some children, kidney or heart problems can cause high blood pressure. Poor lifestyle habits, such as an unhealthy diet, obesity and lack of exercise, contribute to increased blood pressure in kids.
Elevated blood pressure can worsen and develop into long-term high blood pressure as a health condition (hypertension). Hypertension can damage body organs. It increases the risk of heart attacks, heart failure, strokes, aneurysms and kidney failure.
The same healthy lifestyle changes recommended to treat elevated blood pressure also help prevent it. Eat healthy foods, use less salt, don't smoke, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, avoid or limit alcohol, and manage stress.
A blood pressure test is done to diagnose elevated blood pressure. A blood pressure test may be done as a part of a routine health checkup or as a screening for high blood pressure (hypertension).
Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). A blood pressure measurement has two numbers:
Elevated blood pressure is a measurement of 120 to 129 mm Hg and a bottom number below (not above) 80 mm Hg.
A diagnosis of elevated blood pressure is based on the average of two or more blood pressure readings. The measurements should be taken on separate occasions in the same way. The first time your blood pressure is checked, it should be measured in both arms to determine if there's a difference. After that, the arm with the higher reading should be used.
A longer blood pressure monitoring test can be done to check blood pressure at regular times over six or 24 hours. This is called ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. However, the devices used for the test aren't available in all medical centers. Check with your insurer to see if ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is a covered service.
Your provider might also suggest that you check your blood pressure at home. Home blood pressure monitors are available at local stores and pharmacies. Some devices store the measurements in its memory.
If you have elevated or high blood pressure, your health care provider may do blood and urine tests to check for conditions that can cause it. Tests may include:
Other tests may also be done.
You might also have an electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) to check how the heart is beating. An ECG is quick and painless. During an ECG, sensors (electrodes) are attached to the chest and sometimes to the arms or legs. Wires connect the sensors to a machine, which prints or displays results.
Healthy lifestyle changes are recommended for anyone with elevated or high blood pressure.
If you have elevated blood pressure and diabetes, kidney disease or heart disease, your provider might also recommend blood pressure medication.
If you have elevated blood pressure but don't have any heart disease risk factors, the benefits of medication are less clear.
Treatment for stage 1 or stage 2 hypertension usually includes blood pressure medications and healthy lifestyle changes.
As blood pressure increases, so does the risk of heart disease. That's why it's so important to control elevated blood pressure. The key is a commitment to healthy lifestyle changes. Try these tips:
If you think you may have elevated or high blood pressure, make an appointment with your family care provider to have your blood pressure checked.
No special preparations are necessary. To get an accurate blood pressure reading, avoid caffeine, exercise and tobacco for at least 30 minutes before the test.
Because some medications can raise blood pressure, bring a list of all medications, vitamins and other supplements you take and their doses to your medical appointment. Don't stop taking any prescription medications that you think might affect your blood pressure without your provider's advice.
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.
Make a list of:
For elevated blood pressure, questions to ask your health care provider include:
Don't hesitate to ask other questions.
Your health care provider is likely to ask you a number of questions, including: