PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — David Larson, 65, was first diagnosed with borderline high blood pressure, or pre-hypertension, in his mid-20s.

“I just enjoyed life and a lot of fast food,” he admits.

A new study looked at more than 760,000 people, some for more than three decades. It shows any blood pressure reading above normal may increase a patient’s risk of stroke as much as 66 percent.

Blood pressure between 120-over-80 and 139-over-89 is considered prehypertension. High blood pressure is 140-over-90 and above.

It’s estimated one in every three adults in the U.S. has high blood pressure, and another one in three has pre-hypertension.

Doctors currently recommend a low sodium diet and exercise to treat prehypertension. The findings suggest more studies need to be done to see if medication would be a good option for some patients.

“I think if you were to consider pre-hypertension, now again, as a risk factor for stroke, then you are dealing with millions of Americans,” says Dr. Jahandar Saleh, a cardiologist at Northridge Hospital.

For years, David ignored his doctor’s orders to change his habits. He eventually developed high blood pressure and suffered a heart attack.

“I figured that being borderline wasn’t a problem,” says David.

He hopes others will take the advice he didn’t.

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