Blood Pressure Chart: What Does Your Reading Indicate?


Blood pressure, often hailed as a key health indicator, is essentially the pressure your blood applies against your arteries during circulation.

To help everyone better understand their health, the American Heart Association (AHA) has developed an insightful blood pressure chart, based on a range of studies, including clinical and non-clinical ones. A standout reference in this chart is a 2018 study by Muntner et al., as published in the Journal of Hypertension by AHA, suggesting that blood pressure standards should consider both in-clinic and at-home readings.

Grasping your blood pressure readings is super important, given it’s commonly known as the “silent killer.” This ominous label stems from the fact that high or low blood pressure can silently pose significant health risks without noticeable symptoms.

To really get a grip on these readings, it’s essential to know the basic stages of blood pressure:

  1. Normal
  2. Elevated
  3. High
  4. Hypertensive crisis

In less severe cases, doctors often recommend lifestyle changes instead of medication, which might just resolve your blood pressure issues naturally.

Blood pressure is measured using a device called a sphygmomanometer, involving an inflatable cuff placed around your upper arm. The device measures the pressure in your artery walls as the cuff inflates and deflates, providing systolic (maximum) and diastolic (minimum) pressure readings.

We also explore notable blood pressure monitors like the Oxiline Pressure X Pro and CheckMe BP2.

There’s such importance placed on this health metric that many are advocating for a downloadable or printable version of this information, available at the end of this article.

What is a blood pressure chart?

A blood pressure chart is an essential guide, translating your readings into a clear view of your heart health. It categorizes blood pressure into low, normal, or high, with the latest ranges provided by the AHA:

  • Normal: Systolic <120 and Diastolic <80
  • Pre-Hypertension (Elevated): Systolic 120-129 and Diastolic <80
  • High BP (Hypertension Stage 1): Systolic 130-139 or Diastolic 80-89
  • High BP (Hypertension Stage 2): Systolic 140-180 or Diastolic 90-120
  • Very High BP (Hypertensive Crisis): Systolic >180 and/or Diastolic >120

This chart is a tool for discussing treatment options with your doctor and improving heart health awareness.

Interestingly, the chart doesn’t cover low blood pressure, which can sometimes be an emergency. While less common than hypertension, the body usually gives warnings before critically low blood pressure becomes dangerous.

A significant update from AHA is redefining high blood pressure as 130/80 mmHg, down from the previous 140/90 mmHg. This change reflects clinical findings that symptoms of high blood pressure appear at this lower threshold.

Dr. Paul K. Whelton, the lead author of these guidelines, published in both the Hypertension journal and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, highlights the risk associated with blood pressure in the 130-139/80-89 mmHg range:

“At these levels, the risk of cardiovascular complications is about double compared to those with normal blood pressure.”

Dr. Whelton adds:

“We want to be clear about this risk. It’s a call to action, focusing on non-medical ways to reduce blood pressure, rather than immediately jumping to medication.”

However, global standards vary, as normal blood pressure is influenced by factors like lifestyle, diet, climate, etc., and differs across regions.

Understanding how to read a blood pressure chart is vital – these numbers can literally be life-saving. Let’s dive into what each number means and why they’re important.

How to read a blood pressure chart?

Interpreting a blood pressure chart involves looking at two numbers on your monitor, each representing a different aspect of your heart’s function.

These numbers are usually separated by a slash, like 120/80 mmHg.

The first number is your systolic blood pressure, and the second is your diastolic blood pressure.

It’s important to understand these numbers because they provide key insights into your heart health and can help in early detection and management of potential heart issues.

Let’s dive into the differences between systolic and diastolic readings.

What’s the difference between systolic and diastolic blood pressure?

Systolic pressure, the higher number, is the pressure when your heart beats and pumps blood. Normal systolic pressure is below 120 mmHg. High systolic pressure can indicate heart strain.

Diastolic pressure, the lower number, is the pressure when your heart is resting between beats. Normal diastolic pressure is below 80 mmHg and indicates how well your arteries relax.

A Tulane University research article in the Journal of Hypertension emphasizes that abnormal readings in either systolic or diastolic pressures can signal health risks.

It’s important to understand that both numbers matter, not just the systolic (the higher number).

You can learn more about the significance of systolic vs. diastolic readings from a linked resource, which provides deeper insights into your heart’s functioning and what each number means.

What is the meaning of mmHg in blood pressure readings?

The term mmHg, which stands for millimeters of mercury, is a measurement unit for blood pressure. This term dates back to the use of mercury sphygmomanometers in clinical measurements, as discussed in the Elsevier book “Cardiology Clinic” by Dr. Gbenga Ogedegbe and Dr. Thomas Pickering.

MmHg indicates how high the pressure in your blood vessels can push a column of mercury in a manometer or sphygmomanometer.

Blood pressure readings, like 120/80 mmHg, are given in mmHg, representing systolic (heartbeat pressure) and diastolic (resting pressure) levels.

This unit standardizes measurements for healthcare providers to assess and manage cardiovascular health.

While Pascal (Pa) is the standard SI unit of pressure, kPa (kilopascals) is commonly used in scientific contexts. However, kPa and mmHg are not the same, as explored in a 2004 paper by Gianfranco Parati.

1 mmHg is approximately equal to 0.133 kPa. In clinical settings, blood pressure is usually measured in mmHg, but kPa may be used in research or engineering.

To convert from mmHg to kPa, multiply the mmHg value by 0.133. For example, a blood pressure reading of 120/80 mmHg is about 15.99/10.66 kPa.

However, it’s crucial to note that blood pressure is generally not measured in kPa in clinical practice, and mmHg remains the global standard for blood pressure readings.

What are the blood pressure ranges?

Blood pressure ranges, as classified by the American Heart Association (AHA), are divided into five key levels to help both individuals and healthcare professionals gauge cardiovascular health. These categories are Normal, Elevated, High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Stage 1 and 2, and Hypertensive Crisis.

Apart from these standard categories, in a clinical setting, blood pressure is further divided into hypotension and severe hypotension for more detailed cardiac health assessment.

Let’s delve into each of these categories and their impact on heart health.

Very Low Blood Pressure (Severe Hypotension)

Severe Hypotension is when blood pressure drops significantly below the normal range, potentially hindering blood flow to vital organs. This is a cardiac emergency, often considered severe if the reading is lower than 80/50 mmHg.

Key points about severe hypotension include:

  • Causes: Can result from dehydration, severe blood loss, heart diseases, endocrine disorders, sepsis, or certain medications.
  • Symptoms: Dizziness, fainting, fatigue, nausea, blurred vision, and concentration issues.
  • Dangers: If not treated quickly, it can lead to inadequate blood flow to vital organs, posing serious risks.
  • Treatment: May involve medication, dietary changes, and addressing underlying conditions.
  • Prevention and management: Staying hydrated, balanced diet, regular blood pressure checks, and managing any underlying conditions can help.

Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension)

Hypotension occurs when blood pressure is below the normal range but not as low as severe hypotension, typically defined as lower than 90/60 mmHg but above 80/50 mmHg.

Important aspects of hypotension:

  • Causes: Arises from factors like dehydration, heart or endocrine problems, severe infections, significant blood loss, nutritional deficiencies, and certain medications.
  • Symptoms: Includes dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, blurred vision, fatigue, nausea, and concentration issues.
  • Dangers: Can lead to inadequate organ and brain blood flow if not addressed.
  • Treatment: Varies based on the cause and may include medication, dietary supplements, and lifestyle changes.
  • Prevention and management: Drinking fluids, eating regular meals, avoiding alcohol, standing up slowly, and managing underlying conditions.

Normal Blood Pressure

Normal blood pressure is when levels are within the standard range, crucial for maintaining cardiovascular health. According to Harvard Health and the AHA, a normal reading is less than 120/80 mmHg.

Considerations for maintaining normal blood pressure:

  • Maintenance: Heart-healthy lifestyle, balanced diet, and regular exercise are key.
  • Monitoring: Regular checks to detect any deviations early.
  • Medical guidance: Follow medical advice and regular check-ups, especially if there are cardiovascular risk factors.

Elevated Blood Pressure (Prehypertension)

Prehypertension occurs when blood pressure is higher than normal but not yet high enough to be hypertension, typically between 120/80 mmHg and 129/80 mmHg.

Key points about prehypertension:

  • Causes: Can result from factors like family history of hypertension, high-sodium diet, lack of physical activity, obesity, and excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Symptoms: Often asymptomatic, making regular monitoring vital.
  • Dangers: Can progress to hypertension, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Treatment: Involves lifestyle changes such as healthier diet, regular exercise, reducing sodium intake, and limiting alcohol.
  • Prevention and management: Healthy lifestyle, stress management, regular exercise, and blood pressure monitoring can help manage prehypertension.

High Blood Pressure (Stage 1 Hypertension)

Stage 1 hypertension is when blood pressure consistently ranges from 130-139 mmHg systolic or 80-89 mmHg diastolic.

Considerations for stage 1 hypertension:

  • Causes: Includes excessive salt intake, obesity, genetics, age, lack of physical activity, and other factors.
  • Symptoms: May not be noticeable, though some might experience headaches, shortness of breath, or nosebleeds.
  • Dangers: Increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney problems, but not a medical emergency.
  • Treatment: Lifestyle changes and possibly medication depending on risk factors.
  • Prevention and management: Reduce salt intake, maintain healthy weight, exercise regularly, limit alcohol, manage stress, and have regular check-ups.

High Blood Pressure (Stage 2 Hypertension)

Stage 2 hypertension is a more severe form, where blood pressure consistently exceeds 140/90 mmHg but is less than 180/120 mmHg. Immediate medical care is crucial at this stage.

Key insights about stage 2 hypertension:

  • Causes: Similar to stage 1, factors include excessive salt consumption, obesity, genetics, age, and a sedentary lifestyle. Chronic conditions like kidney disease and hormonal disorders can also contribute.
  • Symptoms: May include headaches, vision problems, chest pain, difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat, and fatigue.
  • Dangers: Significantly increases the risk of heart diseases like heart attack, stroke, and heart failure. Immediate medical attention is advised.
  • Treatment: Typically involves a combination of medications and lifestyle changes.
  • Prevention and management: Follow the same strategies as for stage 1 hypertension, with regular monitoring and adherence to treatment plans.

Hypertensive Crisis

A hypertensive crisis is a severe and immediate emergency where blood pressure soars above 180/120 mmHg. It requires urgent medical attention and is categorized into urgent and emergency types.

Essential aspects of a hypertensive crisis:

  • Causes: Skipping blood pressure medications, kidney failure, heart attack, or stimulant drugs can trigger a crisis.
  • Symptoms: Severe headache, shortness of breath, chest pain, back pain, numbness or weakness, difficulty speaking, vision problems, and severe anxiety.
  • Danger: Can lead to life-threatening complications like pulmonary edema, brain swelling, or organ damage. Classified as an emergency if there is organ damage.
  • Treatment: Immediate hospitalization and IV medications to lower blood pressure rapidly. Treatment depends on whether organ damage has occurred.
  • Prevention and management: Regular blood pressure monitoring, adherence to medications, and immediate medical attention for high readings or symptoms are crucial. Avoiding triggers and risk factors is also key.

What is normal blood pressure by age and gender?

The concept of normal blood pressure fluctuates according to age and gender, a truth highlighted in a 2001 Journal of Hypertension study by the AHA. Although 120/80 mmHg is generally accepted as a standard for adults, it’s crucial to remember that this can shift with age and gender, as well as other factors like ethnicity and physiological conditions.

What is a normal blood pressure range for men?

Men’s normal blood pressure should ideally stay below 120/80 mmHg, yet this can differ due to age, lifestyle, and health status. These are broad guidelines, as individual variations are common. For young adults in their 20s and 30s, the range is typically around 120/80 mmHg. For middle-aged adults in their 40s and 50s, it’s slightly above 120/80 mmHg. In senior men aged 60 and older, around 140/90 mmHg or higher is common.

What is a normal blood pressure range for women?

For women, a healthy blood pressure is usually under 120/80mmHg, though this can vary based on age and health. Dr. Jennifer Wong has pointed out an increased cardiovascular risk in women with systolic blood pressures over 110 mmHg. In young adult women, the range is about 120/80 mmHg, while middle-aged women might experience fluctuations around this range due to hormonal changes. In senior women, a rise in systolic pressure is typical, with readings around 140/90 mmHg.

What is a normal blood pressure range for children?

Children’s blood pressure typically begins lower than adults and increases with age, influenced by age, sex, and height. For infants (0-12 months), the range is 75/50 to 90/65 mmHg. In toddlers (1-2 years), it’s 80/50 to 100/70 mmHg. Preschoolers (3-5 years) have a range of 85/55 to 105/75 mmHg. School-aged children (6-9 years) range from 90/60 to 120/80 mmHg. Pre-teens (10-12 years) have a range of 95/65 to 125/85 mmHg, and teenagers (13-18 years) range from 100/70 to 130/90 mmHg.

Age GroupAverage Blood Pressure Range (mmHg)Notes
Infants (0-12 months)75/50 to 90/65Blood pressure starts to develop to normal ranges as the infant grows.
Toddlers (1-2 years)80/50 to 100/70Blood pressure gradually increases with age and physical growth.
Preschoolers (3-5 years)85/55 to 105/75Blood pressure continues to increase, aligning closer to adult levels as the child grows.
School age (6-9 years)90/60 to 120/80Blood pressure may start to be influenced by external factors such as physical activity and emotional state.
Pre-teens (10-12 years)95/65 to 125/85Hormonal changes and rapid growth spurts may contribute to fluctuations in blood pressure.
Teenagers (13-18 years)100/70 to 130/90Hormonal changes, lifestyle, and physical growth continue to influence blood pressure, with a wider range of normal values.

What is a normal blood pressure range for young adults?

For young adults, typically from late teens to early 30s, a healthy blood pressure is below 120/80 mmHg. This age group is generally expected to maintain the healthiest levels, with cardiovascular risks rising with age. Factors such as stress, diet, and genetics can impact these numbers.

What is the normal blood pressure range for the elderly?

Elderly individuals, usually aged 65 and older, should ideally have a blood pressure less than 120/80 mmHg. Due to age-related changes, their blood pressure might trend higher. Readings up to 140/90 mmHg may still be acceptable for many elderly individuals, especially if lowering the pressure leads to side effects or if they have been stable at those readings without complications.

What is a normal blood pressure range during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, normal blood pressure is typically less than 120/80. However, physiological changes can lead to variations, making regular monitoring vital. Any sudden increase or unusual symptoms should be immediately reported to healthcare professionals.

Pregnancy Stage/ConditionBlood Pressure Range (mmHg)Notes
First TrimesterBelow 120/80Blood pressure usually remains close to pre-pregnancy levels or might slightly drop.
Second TrimesterVaries, often decreasesBlood pressure often decreases, reaching its lowest point around the middle of pregnancy.
Third TrimesterMay return to first trimester levels or slightly higherBlood pressure begins to climb again, typically returning to first-trimester levels or slightly higher.
Elevated Blood PressureSystolic 120-129 / Diastolic <80Consistently in this range during pregnancy may indicate elevated blood pressure.
HypertensionAt or above 140/90Consistent readings at or above this range indicate hypertension during pregnancy.
PreeclampsiaHigh Blood PressureA pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and potential damage to organs, often the liver and kidneys, typically arising after the 20th week of pregnancy.

What is an average blood pressure by race/ethnicity?

Average blood pressure can differ by race/ethnicity, influenced by genetics, socioeconomic factors, diet, stress, and healthcare access. Dr. Anum Saeed and colleagues from the American College of Cardiology noted these variances in a 2020 expert analysis. A detailed study by Rahul’s team from the Smith Center for Outcomes Research in Cardiology, MA, published in an AHA journal, conducted an analysis of average blood pressure variation among various ethnic groups in the US.

Race/ethnicitySystolic Mean (mmHg)Diastolic Mean (mmHg)
White Americans135.972.8
Hispanic Americans139.676.1
Black Americans141.076.6
Asian Americans140.376.3

What is normal blood pressure for pets?

Normal blood pressure for pets ranges from 110/60 to 170/100 mmHg, depending on the animal species. It’s a vital health parameter for pets, reflecting their cardiovascular system health. The norms vary among species and breeds, and specific equipment and techniques are needed for measuring blood pressure in pets.

Blood pressure readings for common pets like dogs and cats are particularly important and vary between breeds and sizes. Dogs typically have a range of 110-160/60-100 mmHg, whereas cats range from 120-170/55-100 mmHg. Birds and exotic pets also have varying blood pressure norms, though these are less commonly measured and may have limited research available.

Why is monitoring blood pressure important?

Keeping an eye on blood pressure is critical for understanding heart health. The reasons for its importance are numerous:

  1. Early Detection: Regular checks can identify hypertension or cardiovascular issues early, sometimes before symptoms are noticeable. Catching these early can lead to effective early treatment.
  2. Assessing Treatment: For those on blood pressure medication, monitoring ensures treatments are working and allows for adjustments.
  3. Preventing Health Issues: High blood pressure, left unchecked, can lead to serious problems like heart attacks, strokes, and kidney disease.
  4. Understanding Risk Factors: Monitoring helps see the impact of lifestyle choices on blood pressure.
  5. Managing Health Conditions: For those with diabetes, kidney disease, or heart conditions, blood pressure monitoring is key for overall management.
  6. Avoiding Hypertensive Crisis: Regular checks can help prevent dangerously high blood pressure levels.
  7. Overall Health: Regular blood pressure checks can provide insights into one’s cardiovascular health and encourage proactive health measures.
  8. Lifestyle Changes: Tracking blood pressure can motivate positive lifestyle changes like diet and exercise.

How do you take blood pressure at home?

Taking blood pressure at home involves a few key steps:

  • Choose a Reliable Monitor: Pick a trustworthy device like the Oxiline Pressure X Pro or CheckMe BP2.
  • Position Yourself Correctly: Sit comfortably, arms at heart level, feet flat, back supported.
  • Cuff Placement: Put the cuff on your bare upper arm, not too tight.
  • Relax: Take a few minutes to relax before measuring.
  • Measurement: Use the monitor to take your reading. Repeat a couple of times for accuracy, then average the results.

It’s crucial to follow these steps for an accurate reading comparable to a doctor’s measurement.

What are the best and most accurate blood pressure monitors?

When it comes to accuracy in blood pressure monitors, Oxiline, CheckMe, and QardioArm are top choices.

  1. Oxiline Pressure X Pro: Known for clear blood pressure range indication, it measures blood pressure, heart rate, and pulse accurately. It also includes a schedule chart for planning readings.
  2. CheckMe BP2A: This device boasts an innovative design, Bluetooth connectivity for mobile data display, and provides both blood pressure and ECG information.
  3. QardioArm: This monitor tracks irregular heartbeats and delivers accurate blood pressure readings. It connects with various devices and displays data in visual formats.

Oxiline stands out for its innovation and is highly recommended in reviews and by some clinicians. CheckMe offers smart monitors like BP2 and BP2A, ideal for those seeking comprehensive cardiac health coverage.

How can you naturally lower blood pressure?

Lowering blood pressure naturally involves several key strategies:

  • Diet: Reduce sodium intake, choose low-sodium options, eat potassium-rich foods, increase fiber with whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. The DASH diet, focusing on fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy, is recommended.
  • Exercise: Aim for 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week, plus strength training twice a week.
  • Lifestyle: Limit alcohol and caffeine, manage stress, get enough sleep, and maintain a healthy weight. Quitting smoking is crucial.
  • Hydration: Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Natural Supplements: Consider omega-3 fatty acids, garlic, and flaxseed, but consult a healthcare professional first.

Understanding your baseline blood pressure figures is essential for natural heart care.

Where can you find a printable blood pressure chart to monitor your readings?

A printable blood pressure chart is a useful tool for tracking blood pressure over time. It’s helpful for personal tracking, sharing with healthcare providers, or assisting loved ones. In the digital age, these charts provide a tangible way to manage and visualize blood pressure readings.

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