Elevated blood pressure 


Elevated blood pressure refers to a slightly higher than ideal blood pressure level, measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association classify blood pressure into four main categories: 

  • Normal blood pressure. 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or less is the minimum blood pressure.  
  • Elevated blood pressure. The bottom number is below (not above) 80 mm Hg, and the upper number is between 120 and 129 mm Hg.  
  • Stage 1 hypertension. The top number is in the 130139 mm Hg range, and the bottom number is in the 8089 mm Hg range.  
  • Stage 2 hypertension. The top number is at least 140 millimeters of mercury, or the bottom number is at least 90.  

Elevated blood pressure is considered a classification rather than a distinct health condition, unlike hypertension. However, if left unmanaged, elevated blood pressure often progresses over time. Regular monitoring and control are crucial. Adopting a healthy lifestyle, including regular physical activity and a balanced diet, can aid in preventing and managing high blood pressure.   

It’s important to note that uncontrolled elevated blood pressure and hypertension elevate the risks of heart attacks and strokes. Some studies suggest that prolonged elevated blood pressure could contribute to changes in cognitive functions such as memory, language, thinking, or judgment, leading to cognitive decline. 


Detecting elevated blood pressure can be challenging due to the absence of noticeable symptoms. Regular blood pressure assessments become essential for its identification. These assessments can be conducted during healthcare visits or conveniently at home using a monitoring device. Children should have their blood pressure checked during routine wellcheck appointments from the age of 3 onwards. For those with high blood pressure, regular monitoring is crucial. As for adults aged 18 and above, it is recommended to undergo a blood pressure check at least once every two years. However, individuals with elevated blood pressure or those with additional heart disease risk factors might require more frequent monitoring. 


Increased pressure on artery walls can elevate blood pressure. Accumulation of fats, cholesterol, and substances on artery walls (atherosclerosis) can cause this. Conversely, high blood pressure (hypertension) can lead to atherosclerosis. Causes of elevated blood pressure are sometimes unknown. 

Elevated blood pressure can be caused by various factors and medications, including: 

  • Adrenal gland disorders 
  • Congenital heart defects affecting blood vessels from birth 
  • Illicit drugs like cocaine and amphetamines 
  • Kidney disease 
  • Obstructive sleep apnea 
  • Certain medications, including birth control pills, cold and sinus remedies, overthecounter pain relievers with caffeine, and specific prescription drugs 
  • Thyroid issues 

Risk factors  

Even young children can have high blood pressure.  

High blood pressure risk factors include:  

  • Age. The risk of elevated blood pressure simply increases with age.  
  • High blood pressure history in the family. If you have a parent or sibling who has high blood pressure, you are more likely to get it yourself.  
  • Sedentary lifestyle. Lack of exercise can lead to weight gain. Elevated blood pressure is more likely in people who are overweight.  
  • High salt or low potassium diet. The body requires two nutrients to regulate blood pressure: sodium and potassium. You could develop high blood pressure if your diet contains too much salt or too little potassium.  
  • Tobacco use. Blood pressure can rise as a result of smoking, chewing tobacco, or being around smoke (secondhand smoke).  
  • Excessive alcohol consumption. Blood pressure has been linked to alcohol intake, especially in men.  
  • Specific chronic conditions. A number of conditions, including kidney disease, diabetes, and sleep apnea, can make you more likely to have high blood pressure.  
  • Obesity. You are more likely to develop high blood pressure if you are obese. Heart disease and strokes are both at risk due to high blood pressure. 

While more common in adults, elevated and high blood pressure can also affect children. In some cases, kidney or heart issues can lead to high blood pressure in children. Unhealthy lifestyle habits like poor diet, obesity, and lack of exercise also contribute to increased blood pressure in kids.