Blood Pressure 138/54

Blood pressure 138/54 - what does it mean?

Your blood pressure reading of 138/54 indicates a High Normal blood pressure and is also classified as Prehypertension.

In most cases a high normal blood pressure is still considered normal. However, under some circumstances or with pre-existing conditions or diseases the high normal blood pressure can be a problem.

What you should know about a blood pressure of 138/54

What is high normal blood pressure? Hypertension guidelines exist to aid both medical professionals and patients in defining, understanding, and treating blood pressure measurements in accordance with its stage of severity. According to the CDC, some 75 million US adults have high blood pressure, but only 54 percent have it under control. Between missed work, health services, and prescriptions alone, hypertension costs the US almost 50 billion per year. The hypertension classification system was developed by The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association to offer a more comprehensive and systematic approach to blood pressure identification and management.

Prehypertension is the elevated or high normal blood pressure stage of that scale. Less than 120/80 mmHg readings are considered within the normal blood pressure range. Once blood pressure measurements rise up to 129 mmHg systolic but remain less than 80 diastolic, the readings are considered elevated. Stage one hypertension ranges from 130-139/80-89 mmHg, stage two hypertension ranges from 140-180/90-120 mmHg, and stage three hypertension covers readings higher than 180/120 mmHg.

Think of the elevated blood pressure stage as a red flag that’s telling you to proceed with caution. It’s a warning sign that something is causing your blood pressure to rise above normal. If left unmanaged, there’s a strong probability of it continuing to rise into the other hypertensive stages.

We all have stressful moments where our blood pressure spikes beyond normal range. Such random fluctuations are normal and not generally considered prehypertension. Instead, a diagnosis of high normal blood pressure will involve at least two readings in both arms on two separate occasions via a reliable source. Some physicians use an ambulatory blood pressure monitoring test, which involves wearing a blood pressure recording device for 24-hours, to gain a more accurate picture of how and when your blood pressure becomes elevated.

What Prehypertension Does To Your Body

Most people understand that elevated blood pressure is a risk in cardiovascular disease. However, it can be very difficult to identify hypertension, particularly in the early stages, because there are so few physically-outward symptoms. Instead, the damage is silently being done to your organs and vascular system. Yep, that’s organs, not organ. Unmanaged high blood pressure damages much more than just your heart.


Your systolic number represents the amount of pressure in your arteries when your heart beats, and diastolic pressure measures the pressure between heat beats. When pressure increases, your heart has to work harder to deliver/receive its blood supply, and your vascular system and cardiovascular muscle tissue becomes strained. As elevated blood pressure continues, the cell lining of arteries harden, stiffen, and restrict blood flow. You become more prone to fatty deposits and aneurysms. Prehypertension doubles the risk of developing hypertension and heart disease.


The kidneys are also impacted by elevated blood pressure. Over time, the blood vessels supplying blood to the kidneys can narrow and stiffen under the excess strain of high blood pressure. They eventually become unable to effectively filter excess waste and debris from the body. Chronic high blood pressure is one of the leading causes of kidney disease and kidney failure.


Uncontrolled high blood pressure silently damages the brain’s structure and function, and much of the damage is irreversible once it has occurred. A recent study published in Science Daily found accelerated aging and vascular brain injuries among hypertensive and prehypertensive individuals in their 40s. In addition to increasing the risk for stroke, TIAs, and brain bleeds, hypertension is a risk factor for cognitive declines, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.


Hypertension can damage the tiny blood vessels supplying the eye and its optic nerve. Increased pressure from elevated blood pressure nicks, scars, and narrows the blood vessels, which can lead to vision distortion and decreases and even blindness.

Nervous system

Recent studies have shown that peripheral nerve damage is more likely in those with a combination of diabetes and hypertension.

What To Do If You Have Pre-Hypertension?

Accurate and consistent home measurements will likely be the first thing your healthcare provider advises. Keeping a blood pressure log helps your physician determine any external factors contributing to your elevated blood pressure and if treatment measures are efficiently stabilizing your blood pressure.

While medication is an unlikely initial step at this stage, particularly for those without a history of heart disease, it’s helpful to understand that there are many classes of blood pressure medications your healthcare provider may decide to use if your blood pressure measurements continue to rise, including:

  • Thiazide diuretics
  • ACE inhibitors
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • ARBs
  • Alpha blockers
  • Beta blockers
  • Vasodilators

When heart disease is absent, medical guidelines for treating prehypertension are primarily based on lifestyle changes. These are choices made day-to-day to be healthier. The results may take time, but making healthier lifestyle decisions like these will be a key step in normalizing prehypertensive blood pressure:

  • Heart-healthy diet heavy on fruits, veggies, lean meats, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and fish; sugar, salt, trams fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol are restricted. The DASH diet is appropriate for both those with prehypertension and hypertension.
  • Adopt a regular exercise program with a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and/or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. However, even just a leisurely walk several times per week can help offset the risks of prehypertension progressing into hypertension stage one. The goal is movement, whether that be choosing the stairs over the elevator or going for an hour jog.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. In overweight, prehypertensive individuals, studies have shown that even a modest weight loss can lower the risk of developing hypertension by 20 percent.
  • Watch your waistline. Carrying excess weight around the midline ( men with 40 plus waistlines and women with 35 plus waistlines) is a risk factor for hypertension.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation: no more than one for women and two for men per day.
  • Switch to decaf. Limit caffeine, energy drinks, and other stimulants.
  • Avoid processed foods.
  • Complete a tobacco, drug, or alcohol cessation program if necessary.

What Can Help Bring Down Blood Pressure Quickly?

Again, while great management tools, lifestyle changes often take time to see a difference in blood pressure measurements. There are some decisions you can make that have a more immediate impact on blood pressure, including:

  • Season food with natural vasodilators like cinnamon, cayenne, garlic, and onions.
  • Add potassium-rich foods that are low on the glycemic index, such as bananas and spinach. Controlling blood sugar whilst also helping the body excrete excess sodium is a winning combination in the fight against hypertension.
  • Reduce stress - acupuncture, mediation, yoga, reading, gardening, or anything else that helps center and calm you.
  • Add plants and herbs known to naturally lower blood pressure, such as celery juice, green tea, ginger root, turmeric, beets, and sesame oil.
  • Dark chocolate is the ideal choice for sweet cravings. In fact, the flavonoids in it actually relax the blood vessels. Eat up to 100 grams per day.
  • Get a restful eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Certain supplements, such as CoQ10 and magnesium, can lower blood pressure by up to 17 mmHg systolic and 10 mmHg diastolic.
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