Prevention of any rise in blood pressure is important because organ damage can begin when blood pressure exceeds 110 mm Hg systolic or 70 mm Hg diastolic—long before hypertension is present. Preventing hypertension also eliminates the need for antihypertensive medications, which have potential side effects and can be costly. In addition, people with hypertension who successfully control their blood pressure with medication have a higher risk of hypertension complications than individuals with similar blood pressure levels normally. Hence, for many reasons, it is best to prevent hypertension in the first place.
The keys to preventing hypertension are weight loss, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in salt, regular physical activity, and moderate alcohol consumption (abstainers should not begin drinking to reduce their risk of hypertension). In one study, a weight loss of just 10 pounds decreased the risk of hypertension by 50 percent in people with a systolic blood pressure between 130 and 139 mm Hg or a diastolic blood pressure between 85 and 89 mm Hg.
Content excerpted from the Johns Hopkins White Paper on Hypertension & Stroke.