3 Blood-Pressure Signs You Should Never Ignore

Are you - or your doctor - shrugging off early warnings of brewing blood pressure trouble? The answer is yes if any of these "little" problems haven't prompted you to take steps to lower your blood pressure:

It's "high-normal."

Thirty percent of American adults have slightly elevated blood pressure levels, between 121/81 and 139/89. But this gray zone is no small problem: It nearly doubles stroke risk. Researchers warn that many family doctors see pre-hypertension as a borderline condition that should be watched, rather than a warning that needs prompt attention.

PLUS: 50 Secrets Your Nurse Won't Tell You

It's creeping up slowly

In one eye-opening study, women's blood pressures inched upward 8 to 10 points each decade, and men's by 4 to 5 points, between the ages of 35 and 64. That's enough to land you in the pre-hypertensive or even the hypertensive category - and a good reason for you and your doctor to nip rising blood pressure in the bud.

It's only high in the doctor's office

So-called white-coat hypertension - elevated blood pressure readings in the doctor's office but not other places (such as at a health fair, on a home monitor, or from a drugstore blood pressure machine) - isn't a fluke you can ignore. In one Scottish study, people with this sign of raised blood pressure under stress showed early signs of stiff arteries and an overworked heart that could lead to higher blood pressure later on.

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