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.
Other relevant links:
- These vegetables can help lower your blood pressure. See: Eat More Potassium-Rich Vegetables
- Should you start eating more potassium even if you don’t have high blood pressure? See: How to Diet: Does Potassium Protect Against Strokes?
- Ways to keep your blood pressure low. See: Heart and Disease: Keep Blood Pressure Low to Prevent Strokes