, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp 359-366
Date: 16 Oct 2008

Prehypertension: Risk stratification and management considerations

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Approximately 37% of US adults are prehypertensive; about 31 million have blood pressures in the range of 130–139/85–89 mm Hg. These stage 2 prehypertensives have threefold greater risk for developing hypertension and twofold higher risk for cardiovascular events than normotensives. Lifestyle changes only are recommended for most prehypertensives, but evidence for community-wide effectiveness is limited. Projected numbers needed to treat to prevent a cardiovascular event are similar for stage 2 prehypertension and stage 1 hypertension when both groups are matched for concomitant risk factors. However, no clinical trials document that pharmacotherapy reduces cardiovascular events in stage 2 prehypertension. The Trial of Preventing Hypertension demonstrated that angiotensin receptor blockade safely lowers blood pressure and prevents or delays progression to hypertension in stage 2 prehypertensives. We believe it is reasonable for clinicians to identify stage 2 prehypertensives at high absolute risk for progression to hypertension and cardiovascular events, and to treat them with a renin-angiotensin system blocker when life-style changes alone are ineffective.