Tens of millions of Americans with slightly elevated blood pressure could be at increased risk for a stroke. That's the finding in a new detailed report published in the journal Neurology.
David Larson, 65, was first diagnosed with borderline high blood pressure, or prehypertension, in his mid-20s.
"I just enjoyed life and a lot of fast food," said Larson.
New research shows any blood pressure reading above normal may increase a patient's risk of stroke as much as 66 percent.
Blood pressure between 120-over-80 and 139-over-89 is considered prehypertension. High blood pressure is 140-over-90.
It's estimated 31 percent of adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure and another 30 percent have prehypertension.
Doctors currently recommend a low sodium diet and exercise to treat prehypertension. Cardiologist Jahandar Saleh says the findings suggest more studies need to be done to see if medication would be a good option for some patients.
"I think if you were to consider prehypertension, now again, as a risk factor for stroke, then you are dealing with millions of Americans," said Dr. Saleh.
For years, David ignored his doctor's orders to change his habits. He eventually developed high blood pressure and suffered a heart attack.
"I figured that being borderline wasn't a problem," said Larson.
He hopes others will take the advice he didn't.
The study looked at more than 760,000 people, some for more than three decades.
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