Harvard Heart Letter

Ask the doctor: Borderline high blood pressure

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Q. I was told I have high blood pressure. The top number ranges from 135 to 145. I don't want to take medications. What choices do I have?

A. From what you have described, it sounds like you may have mild high blood pressure, or hypertension. If the top number is consistently over 140 mm Hg, you may need to go on medications after first adopting healthy lifestyle changes. The likely natural history of people with high blood pressure is that it tends to increase further with age.

There are some measures you should take, and if doing so can keep you off medications or delay the time when you need to start them, that would be great. Even if you do need to start taking medications, you should still make these lifestyle changes to reduce the need for more medications.

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