Heart and Disease: Risk Rises Before Your Blood Pressure is "High"

Doctors consider prescribing drugs when your blood pressure is high—that is, it’s at least 140 over 90. But it’s a threat to your blood vessels before it crosses that line.


“People don’t realize that blood pressure higher than 120 over 80 is associated with increased risk,” says physician Stephen Havas, a former Vice President of Science, Quality, and Public Health at the American Medical Association.

“Between ‘normal’ and ‘hypertension’ you have a huge number of heart disease and stroke deaths attributable to excess blood pressure,” he explains.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) calls those in-between blood pressures “pre-hypertension.” Roughly one out of three American adults has it. Another one out of three has hypertension.

Researchers aren’t sure how elevated blood pressure raises the risk of heart attacks and strokes. One possibility: it may accelerate the clogging of arteries.

“The progression of atherosclerosis is much higher in the face of hypertension,” explains hypertension authority Norman Kaplan of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.


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26 Replies to “Heart and Disease: Risk Rises Before Your Blood Pressure is "High"”

  1. Keep lowering the standard normal blood pressure and everyone will be on DRUGS by the time they are 10. Well played big pharma.

    1. I’ve suspected that too. My doctor says everyone has their own “normal” blood pressure and some people live long healthy lives within the new “prehypertensive” range. I do think it’s a good idea to keep your pressure low, but some of us just can’t walk around with readings of 115/70 without drugs. I prefer to eat healthy, practice yoga, get exercise and manage stress.

      1. Amen.

        Most doctor will accept this practice as sound & practical.

        Pharmacotherapy have their own hazards beside direct cost/side effects to the patient.

    2. I belieev I’ve been overmedicated for “high systolic BP,” which has rarely been in the 130s, but was on Accupril which eventually caused dry hacking almost paroxysmal cough so was switched to a potassium sparing diuretic resulting in low sodium and somewhat high potassium levels.
      Under my doctor’s supervision, I’m doing a trial of no diuretic. It’s wonderful not to have to get up at night several times to urinate even though I take the “water pill” in the morning.
      My understanding is that doctors treat the elderly (I’m 82 and healthy) for high BP if the spread between the systole and daistole is like mine – disatole low, systole not inordinately high, but sometimes in the 130s. I don’t want to have a stroke as they are mean devils, but I don’t want to be on medications that mess with my kidneys either.
      I, too, believe big pharma has sold a lot of physicians and their patients on unneeded drug treatments.

  2. Drugs just treat symptoms. Diet — whole food, plant-based — treats the disease. Which is, ultimately, easier, cheaper and tastier?

    1. You are so right!! When will America wake up? Drug companies keep getting bigger and bigger. Eat healthy, exercise, pray and stay out of doctor’s office if you can!

      1. Thanks for these words. Wake up America! Time to stop looking at a pill for correcting what we can do if we just get off that couch. We are killing ourselves by letting pharma dictate to us. How can so many lies be told for the sake of money???

  3. Most of us are pre-something, and we’re all pre-death.

    Is the implication of this article that drug treatment is necessary? Or is it that high blood pressure can be decreased by lifestyle choices? Very unclear.

    My favorite quote from the article: “Researchers aren’t sure how elevated blood pressure raises the risk of heart attacks and strokes.” Is high blood pressure simply a CORRELATION with or a CAUSATION of heart disease? Absent this information, at best we can state that high blood pressure is a RISK FACTOR for a disease — not a disease in itself.

  4. I agree with Tammera. A prudent Doctor will watch and see if a change is more permanent or just an aberration. There are many reasons why a reading can be elevated. Do not go overboard with just one or two readings.

  5. Keep lowering the standard for normal blood pressure might necessitate everyone turning vegan which could save the planet as well as humans. Let’s not shoot the messenger. It’s the science that establishes the standard, not the reporters.

  6. I’m not surprised that this news is out about pre-hypertension. The diets of American people are out of control. Too much fast food. Too much restaurant food. Too much prepared and packaged food. All have fats and sugar that contribute to the state of health of our nation. We are fighting a losing battle if we think only pills will solve any of our health problems. We must change the way we think about food. All of us.

  7. Yes, diet and exercise! My bp was moving up and I realized my otherwise healthy vegetarian diet did not meet the high requirements or potassium. Once I focussed on adding more potassium rich foods, pared a few calories from my daily menu and added a little more exercise I saw my bp going down. As I age, it seems eating takes more science-luckily I am retired and have the time!

  8. I was getting persistent per-hypertension readings and started drinking beet juice–about 4to 6 ounces twice daily and my blood pressure is now consistently below 120/80. My understanding is that the nitrates in the beet juice become nitrates in your body and dialate blood vessels. I am small ( about 100 pounds) so others may need to drink more juice to get the effect. Despite my low weight, running, playing tennis, and taking yoga classes twice weekly, I was still having problems with blood pressure until I started drinking the beet juice.

  9. Too much medication, too little lifestyle changes. I swim, have practiced yoga for 13 years and meditate. In addition, I’m a vegetarian and am making an effort to reduce my consumption of processed foods! Too much salt and sugar in the stuff.

  10. The danger results from the increased pressure on the blood vessels. Add some atherosclerosis and calcification(hardening of the arteries), and it is easy to see where all the risk is coming from.

  11. Focusing on blood pressure doesn’t work nearly so well as focusing on life style–and living as fully and lovingly as you can. Great line (above), “We’re all pre-something and pre-death.”

  12. For 5 years i took BP meds. Age 78 thru 82. i felt horrible and kept passing out. I went off BP meds (it was the only prescription drug i took)because i was old enough if it was the wrong decision i was not frightened by the consequences. For the next 5 and a half years –i’m now 88 — i have felt good, i have not fainted my blood pressure hovers around 200 over 90. It makes me wonder if there aren’t great variances in what is “high” blood pressure for individuals. I have always eaten a wholesome diet if it’s available, because I’ve always loved a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and don’t care so much for meat.

    1. This is quite remarkable that you have no ill effect from such a high systolic pressure even if your diastolic is 90. It is nice knowing that you no longer worry about it.

  13. Husband always has had low BP 110/80 and while hiking in Montana, had a heart attack, coded in the ER and had to be shocked last week. Two stents with a 100% blockage on right side. We are now on our way back home to Florida and on a mission to exercise (yoga, bike riding, swimming and being more active than ever) and eating more healthy. We are heeding the warning call and getting up off our iPads and moving more. The meds they have him on are making him cough violently (ACE inhibitor), have muscle aches, dizzy, tired. May need them now, but not for long …. With Cardiologist approval.

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