, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 264-268
Date: 22 Jul 2007

Prehypertension: Demographics, pathophysiology, and treatment

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Abstract

The term prehypertension, which first appeared in the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee (JNC 7) in 2003, has sparked controversy in the field of hypertension. Systolic blood pressure (BP) rises with age in industrialized societies, but an individual’s rate of rise of systolic BP and the age at which BP crosses the arbitrary threshold of hypertension depends on prior BP levels (hence “prehypertension”). Obesity, another major factor in prehypertension, activates neurohumoral systems (renin-angiotensin and sympathetic nervous) and contributes to age-related BP increases. The JNC 7 recommendation for prehypertension management with optimal weight control (largely through diet and exercise) remains the mainstay, especially in the elderly. The Trial of Prevention of Hypertension demonstrated that angiotensin receptor blockade (ARB) retards age-related BP increases in prehypertensive patients. Associated elevated risk conditions (prediabetes, hypercholesterolemia, microalbuminuria) may justify early use of ARB therapy (in men and in women without childbearing potential) if weight control fails.