What do the blood pressure numbers mean?

When your healthcare provider tells you your blood pressure reading, he or she may tell you it fits in one of these categories:

  • optimal range
  • normal range
  • high-to-normal range
  • stage 1 hypertension
  • stage 2 hypertension
  • stage 3 hypertension

Use the chart below to find your blood pressure reading and in which category it falls. Keep reading to learn about normal ranges and high ranges.


What Your Blood Pressure Test Results Mean

Systolic Blood Pressure (your top number) Diastolic Blood Pressure (your bottom number) Your Blood Pressure Category Less than 120 Less than 80 Optimal Less than 130 Less than 85 Normal 130 to 139 85 to 89 High to normal 140 to 159 90 to 99 Stage 1 hypertension 160 to 179 100 to 109 Stage 2 hypertension 180 or greater 110 or greater Stage 3 hypertension

The blood pressure values given in the chart above reflect those recorded by healthcare providers - not by home monitoring. Home monitoring values tend to run lower. This chart is not appropriate for children. It is also not appropriate for adults who take medicine to treat their high blood pressure or who have a short-term serious illness.

Normal blood pressure ranges. Normal blood pressure is a range of values. Don't be alarmed if your blood pressure is a bit higher or lower than normal at times. Blood pressure readings can fluctuate by as much as 15 to 20 mm Hg at various times of the day. However, if your readings are consistently high, you have high blood pressure.

High blood pressure ranges. According to the National High Blood Pressure Education Program, your blood pressure is considered high if either of the following is true after two blood pressure readings.

  • Your systolic pressure, the top number, is 140 mm Hg or higher.
  • Your diastolic pressure, the bottom number, is 90 mm Hg or higher.

Please note: If you have diabetes, kidney disease, or have had a stroke or heart attack, your doctor will want you to keep your blood pressure at an even lower number.

If you have high blood pressure readings, you may be at risk for heart disease and other health problems. The degree of your risk will also depend on other factors, such as:

  • if you have an abnormal urine test
  • if you have diabetes
  • if you have high blood cholesterol
  • if you have other health problems related to high blood pressure
  • if you have signs of heart disease, such as an enlarged heart
  • if you use tobacco

The number of risks you have can affect your treatment. Be sure to talk with your doctor about what your blood pressure test results mean for you.

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