By Dr. Brian McDonough

By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It is called pre-hypertension. A blood pressure higher than 120/80 but lower than 140/90. It is estimated that a quarter of us fall into this group.

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In most cases, physicians recommend diet and exercise to try and get these numbers in a better range, but what happens to people who consistently remain in his area for their blood pressure?

Researchers looked at 19 studies with more than 760,000 participants. Some of these people were followed for thirty-six years. What they found is the subjects were 66 percent more likely to develop a stroke than people who had normal blood pressure.

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Does this mean everyone in this blood pressure range needs to be on medication? Not necessarily…some do. Especially those who have blood pressure elevations that don’t change with exercise.

But remember, there are other factors like obesity, high blood sugar, stress and irregular heartbeats that have to be factored in as well.

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Essentially the total patient needs to be treated and consistently monitored.