Blood Pressure Tool

High blood pressure, often called “the silent killer,” may present with no symptoms and accounts for the second largest number of preventable heart disease and stroke deaths, second only to smoking.

 

Classification of Blood Pressure for Adults Age 18 and Older

Blood pressure categories

The five blood pressure ranges as recognized by the American Heart Association are:

Normal

Blood pressure numbers of less than 120/80 mm Hg are considered within the normal range. If your results fall into this category, stick with heart-healthy habits like following a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.

Elevated

Elevated blood pressure is when readings consistently range from 120-129 systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic. People with elevated blood pressure are likely to develop high blood pressure unless steps are taken to control the condition.

Hypertension Stage 1

Hypertension Stage 1 is when blood pressure consistently ranges from 130-139 systolic or 80-89 mm Hg diastolic. At this stage of high blood pressure, doctors are likely to prescribe lifestyle changes and may consider adding blood pressure medication based on your risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), such as heart attack or stroke.

Hypertension Stage 2

Hypertension Stage 2 is when blood pressure consistently ranges at 140/90 mm Hg or higher. At this stage of high blood pressure, doctors are likely to prescribe a combination of blood pressure medications and lifestyle changes.

Hypertensive crisis

This stage of high blood pressure requires medical attention. If your blood pressure readings suddenly exceed 180/120 mm Hg, wait five minutes and then test your blood pressure again. If your readings are still unusually high, contact your doctor immediately. You could be experiencing a hypertensive crisis.

If your blood pressure is higher than 180/120 mm Hg and you are experiencing signs of possible organ damage such as chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, change in vision or difficulty speaking, do not wait to see if your pressure comes down on its own. Call 911.

Blood Pressure can be reduced with medication or certain behavioral modifications (i.e., exercise, weight loss, sodium restrictions, smoking cessation, and stress management).

 

Your blood pressure numbers and what they mean

There are two different numbers in a blood pressure reading.

  • The top number is the systolic blood pressure. This is the higher number and reflects the amount of pressure in the arteries when the heart muscle contracts (or “beats”).
  • The bottom number is the diastolic blood pressure. This is the amount of pressure that remains in the arteries in between heartbeats, when the heart is relaxing and filling up with blood.