Hypertension Centre


Pre-hypertension is a condition where a person’s blood pressure is elevated above normal but not to the level considered to be hypertension (high blood pressure). This means that you’re at increased risk of heart disease and stroke. It is, in fact, a wake-up call for you.

Pre-hypertension is considered to be blood pressure readings with a systolic pressure between 120 and 139 mm Hg or a diastolic pressure between 80 and 89 mm Hg. Readings greater than or equal to 140/90 mm Hg are considered hypertension.

If you have a systolic (top number) reading of 120 or over or a diastolic (bottom) reading of 80 or over, you suffer from pre-hypertension, which means you’re at increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

It is estimated that between those of us with pre-hypertension (some 23% of the population), and people who have full-blown hypertension (at least another 25%), danger-zoned blood pressure is an emerging epidemic in South Africa. Nearly half of all adults over 18 are in one category or the other.

Are so many of us really so unhealthy? You may well reason as follows: I’m only 36; I run three kilometres every other day (well, okay, sometimes I skip a day) and I almost never eat fried foods. I’m just one of thousands of people in their 30s, 40s and 50s who thought we were paragons of health until these new numbers were released. Are the doctors just trying to scare us?

Wake-up call

Pre-hypertension is a wake-up call for many people. What has been normal in the past has been changed, because new research has shown that blood pressure in the pre-hypertension range is not normal. There is increasing evidence of the correlation between elevated blood pressure and future problems with heart attack and stroke.

Starting as low as 115/75, the risk of heart attack and stroke doubles for every 20-point jump in systolic blood pressure (the first number) or every 10-point rise in diastolic blood pressure (the second number).

People with blood pressure levels between 120/80 and 140/90 – levels once considered normal – have twice the risk of heart disease as those with low blood pressure.

People with blood pressure above 140/90 – the definition of high blood pressure – have four times the risk of heart disease as people with low blood pressure.

It is also known that people aged 55 and older, who currently have normal blood pressure, have a 90% risk of developing high blood pressure down the road.


It is most important to have your blood pressure tested regularly in order to become aware of any changes that may have very serious consequences for your heart’s condition.

Our Employee Wellbeing Programme (EWP) is available 24 hours a day if you want to know more about the dangers of pre-hypertension. Call us on 0861872862 or email us at
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