Hypertension and Prehypertension

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Hypertension and Prehypertension

Risks from untreated high blood pressure include increasing the workload for your heart, hardening the walls of the arteries, increasing the risk for heart disease and stroke, and causing heart failure, kidney disease, and blindness. It is a major health concern, since even Americans with normal blood pressure at age 55 face a 90 percent chance of developing high blood pressure during their lifetimes. Today, 25% of all adult Americans have high blood pressure, and 20% have prehypertension. And we are seeing alarming increases in obesity-related childhood blood pressure. Although most Americans will develop high blood pressure with age, people in many areas of the world do not see their blood pressure increase with age, and high blood pressure is not associated with healthy aging.

For most people, high blood pressure can be controlled with diet, weight loss, exercise, and other lifestyle changes, especially if caught early. The National Institutes of Health recommend the DASH diet to lower blood pressure without medication. "The DASH Diet Action Plan" is a book to help you with adopting the DASH diet and other lifestyle changes which are recommended by your physician to lower blood pressure.

Current definitions of hypertension and prehypertension are shown below.


Systolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 140 and/or diastolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 90, or on medication for hypertension.


Systolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 120 and/or diastolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 80. This is a new category that reflects concern about increased risk of developing heart disease in even mildly elevated blood pressure.

Metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is defined as having 3 or more of the following: carrying extra weight around the waist, high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, and/or elevated blood sugar. For more information and specific description, go to our page on metabolic syndrome.

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People with high blood pressure may benefit from following the DASH diet which helps to lower blood pressure. This diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat and nonfat dairy. This is the doctor recommended diet to help lower blood pressure.

bulletDASHdiet.org for information on the DASH diet and on a new book which will help people implement the DASH diet. Order the book today, click here to learn more.
bulletYou are welcome to join the DASH diet on-line listserv for continuing tips and ideas on how to stay with the program. Click here to join dashdiet
Click to join the DASH diet
bulletNational Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute,. Your guide to lowering high blood pressure.
bulletMore info on childhood blood pressure issues, at the NHLBI.


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If you have any comments or questions, email us at info@netRD.com. This page was last updated on January 09, 2010.

Original web design by Julie Wehmeyer, while she was a dietetic intern at UIC