Slightly elevated blood pressure is known as prehypertension. Prehypertension will likely turn into high blood pressure (hypertension) if you don't make lifestyle changes, such as to start exercising and eating healthier. Both prehypertension and high blood pressure increase your risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure.

A blood pressure reading has two numbers. The first, or upper, number measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats (systolic pressure). The second, or lower, number measures the pressure in your arteries between beats (diastolic pressure). Prehypertension is a systolic pressure from 120 to 139 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or a diastolic pressure from 80 to 89 mm Hg.

Weight loss, exercise and other healthy lifestyle changes can often control prehypertension — and set the stage for a lifetime of better health.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

Prehypertension doesn't cause symptoms. In fact, severe high blood pressure may not cause symptoms.

The only way to detect prehypertension is to keep track of your blood pressure readings. Have your blood pressure checked at each doctor's visit — or check it yourself at home with a home blood pressure monitoring device.

When to see a doctor

Ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading at least once every two years. You may need more-frequent readings if you have prehypertension or other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

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