Welcome to these boards!
First of all, I think there's a slight misnomer in your subject heading..."early hypertension". I want to put your mind at ease a little. Unless your BP, monitored at home
is consistantly sustained
at or above 140/90, you do not have hypertension, early or otherwise.
As others say here, about 90% of cases of true hypertension are called "primary" and due to a genetic predisposition. The other 10% are due to secondary causes, such as renal stenosis or adrenal tumors and are pretty rare.
Some folks have such a heavy genetic component (like MOXIE) that even exercise and eating really well etc doesn't lower BP enough and meds are eventually required.
Your doctor was wise to ask you to keep an eye of your #s at home instead of immediately leaping to medication. Some physicians, in my opinion are a bit over-zealous these days and start pushing drugs very aggressively and way too early.
What kind of monitor did you buy for yourself? The only kinds that are truly reliable are the upper arm-cuff devices. Wrist and finger monitors are generally unreliable and can give inconsistant and/or faulty readings.
The newest guidelines for determining hypertension are found in The Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure ( better known as JNC 7).
Below is a link to the report in various forms, plus more info on the DASH diet:
Basically, the guidelines break down as follows:
Normal- below 120/80
Stage 1 hypertension- 140-159/90-99
Stage 2 hypertension- 160/100 or higher
The "prehypertension" classification is brand new. Numbers that fall into that range used
to be called "normal".
However, it is now felt that even though #s like this do not pose an immediate danger, nor do they require medication
, it is wise to make some lifestyle modifications at this stage to prevent the possibility of bona fide hypertension later
down the pike.
Summary of changes you can make.. (as already stated by Moxie and Axe)
1) Exercise at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
2) Eat a diet high is fresh fruit and vegetables. Reduce your total saturated fat and trans fat intake. Eat less red meats, more chicken and fish.
3) Reduce your sodium consumption. THIS IS EASIER SAID THAN DONE!!
Try not to add too much table salt to your meals or while cooking.
Try to shoot for no more than 2400mg sodium per day. That's equal to only one teaspoon. READ LABELS on eveything. You'll be amazed how much salt is added to canned or processed foods.
4) Moderate alcohol intake. If you drink, try to have no more than 1 drink a day (for women)...2 drinks a day (for men).
5) Maintain a good healthy weight.
BP may normalize with as little as a 10 pound weight loss alone !!
There you have it. Things You Can Do For Your Blood Pressure 101
The DASH diet is terrific not just for blood pressure but for overall health. But it's very tough to stick to. Moderation is the key...you don't have to go crazy, especially with essentially pretty normal #s at this point.
BP is meant to fluctuate by the way, so I wouldn't be too concerned if you get the occassional (or even a week's worth) of 140/90, as long as most of the time
over the next couple of months, it's lower than that, and ideally, below 120/80, give or take a point or two.
Hope all this this helps!