Warning signs of Prehypertension

By Island Hospital   |   28.09.2018

 Prehypertension is a warning sign – a yellow light in the traffic lights of cardiovascular disease. It means that you will probably develop high blood pressure in the future. Hence, it is a precursor of complications that come with hypertension such as increased risk of heart attack, stroke, coronary heart disease, heart failure, and kidney failure. If you are overweight, lead a sedentary lifestyle, you smoke, drink excessive alcohol, eat food with high salt content, and have a family history of hypertension; you are most likely at risk of prehypertension. Prehypertension usually poses no symptoms and is diagnosed at a doctor’s clinic or pharmacy when your blood pressure is taken during a regular health screening.



Prehypertension is when your blood pressure is elevated above normal, but not to the level of hypertension. The World Health Organization (WHO) categorises prehypertension as a blood pressure reading that measures between 120/80 mm Hg and 139/89 mm Hg.

Blood pressure is the force of blood against the artery wall and has two values - systolic blood pressure (the upper value) which is usually generated by the force of the contraction of the heart and diastolic blood pressure (the lower value) which is dependent on the tone of the arterial wall.

Hypertension is classically defined as having blood pressure of over 140/90 mm Hg; this is based upon two or more readings at two or more separate occasions separated by at least one week.


Prehypertension is more serious than you think it is. A prehypertensive patient is 3 times more likely to have a heart attack and 1.7 times more likely to have heart disease than a person with normal blood pressure. The risk of cardiovascular disease increases with rise of blood pressure. The risk doubles with every 20 mm Hg rise in systolic blood pressure (the upper value) or every 10 mm Hg rise in diastolic blood pressure (the lower value).

The prevalence of prehypertension is about 30% among adults (higher in men than women). According to the American Heart Association, the progression to hypertension occurs within 4 years of diagnosis. Hence, with a diagnosis of prehypertension rather than saying it is high normal blood pressure, more efforts would be put into normalising the blood pressure. You would be more liable to treat mild elevation of blood pressure aggressively.

High blood pressure or hypertension is dangerous because it stresses the heart and vascular system and increases the risk of atherosclerosis (plaque build-up inside your arteries). It is one of the main risk factors for heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness and heart failure, which affects about two thirds of people over 65 years of age.


There is no cure for high blood pressure, but there is treatment with diet, lifestyle habits, and medications. As such, treatment for prehypertension is basically lifestyle change and non-pharmacological measures.

1. Lose weight
If you are overweight, losing weight would help lower your blood pressure and also lower insulin resistance (an important component in metabolic syndrome). A modest weight-loss can prevent hypertension by 20% in an overweight patient with prehypertension. Ideally, Asians should maintain a BMI of below 23, and below 25 for Caucasians.

2. Exercise regularly
Stay physically active as much as you can. Strive for at least 30 minutes of physic al activity a day.

3. Change your diet – eat healthy food
Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and low fat dairy.
DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is a lifelong approach to healthy eating that is designed to help treat or prevent hypertension. The DASH diet encourages you to reduce the sodium in your diet and eat a variety of foods rich in nutrients that help lower blood pressure, such as potassium, calcium and magnesium.

4. Reduce the intake of salt (sodium)
A low sodium diet can lower high blood pressure (less than 2.3gm a day). So, cut back on the amount of salt and sodium you take in. Most of the salt and sodium we consume comes from packaged foods, so learn to check labels for sodium content.

5. Limit alcohol intake
Moderation is the keyword. One drink a day for women and not more than two for men. However if you do not drink alcohol, you should not start.

6. Drink water
Opt for plain water instead of sugary beverages.

7. Quit smoking
Smoking can raise blood pressure and smoking is an independent risk factor to heart disease and stroke.

Learn more about the 6 Vital Tips to Keep Your Heart Happy and Healthy


1. Check your blood pressure regularly
It is important to get your blood pressure checked regularly. Know your blood pressure number. Let your doctor know if your blood pressure number is higher.

2. Monitor your blood pressure at home
You can monitor your blood pressure between doctor's visits with a home blood pressure monitor or you can use an electronic blood pressure monitor at your local pharmacy. This is helpful as it also empowers you to care for and manage your own blood pressure. Home monitoring is helpful to differentiate actual Hypertension and "White Coat Hypertension" which is elevated blood pressure only in the presence of a doctor or in the hospital setting. Monitoring at home helps diagnose a patient with prehypertension or overt hypertension.

3. Talk to your doctor about your blood pressure
Ask if diet and exercise can help lower your risk of getting high blood pressure. Care monitoring of your blood pressure is important in the management of prehypertension. You should start treatment earlier if you have diabetes, kidney disease or heart disease.

The Cardiologists in Island Hospital have access to advanced imaging and blood tests that gives accurate assessment of heart attack risk. The test results are the better option ways to tell if you are at risk of heart diseases before they develop noticeable symptoms and, if so, how severe is your condition. Complications of heart disease include heart attack and stroke. You can reduce the risk of complications with early diagnosis and treatment. Each patient’s case is different. To help you understand the better option type and methods of heart disease treatment and prevention, make an appointment to see any of our Cardiologists at Island Hospital.

Identifying risks and symptoms of heart diseases are the journey to maintaining a healthy happy heart.
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