Pre-Hypertension? – Red flag raised over ‘normal’ blood pressure – May. 14, 2003

High blood pressure measures 140 over 90 or more. That level hasn’t changed.

Until now, optimal blood pressure was considered 120 over 80 or lower; normal was up to 130 over 85; and levels above that were called borderline until patients reached the hypertension range.

But the new guidelines classify normal blood pressure as below 120 over 80 — and readings anywhere from 120 over 80 up to 140 over 90 as prehypertensive.

“We hope it’s going to catch people’s attention,” Jones said of the new prehypertension category. “This is not to alarm people but simply deliver the message that … they are at higher risk for going on to develop hypertension and they need to take action.”

So, if you’re “normal” then (insert scare quotes) “you’re at risk” (end scare quotes). Well, here’s the action I’m going to take having read this: nada.

Let’s apply this to other aspects of medicine / life. Wear glasses? Preblind. Have skin? Premelanoma. Have teeth? Precavities. Have hair? Prebald. Get the picture?

Here’s the problem: if we (meaning the medical profession) continue to define normal as ‘pre-abnormal’, we’re going to be the little boy who cried wolf, we’re going to be ignored, and rightly so.


  1. And since we’re all going to die, then “living” is simply “pre-death.”

  2. This was a bit much for me, too. 120/80 is a problem?? Nuts. It’s tough enough for me to convince somebody with 150/100 that they need meds.