What Is The Blood Pressure Chart? All Five BP Categories

Many people ask me about the blood pressure chart. There’s different names and numbers for the two kinds of blood pressure, systolic and diastolic. It can get a little confusing especially since the chart was changed a few years ago in 2017. What is the blood pressure chart?

The blood pressure chart contains 5 categories. The categories include normal, elevated, high blood pressure stage 1, high blood pressure stage 2 and hypertensive crisis. The current BP chart dates back to 2017 and was formed by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association.

This blog post will inform you about each category in detail. I’ll explain the numbers for each one and how to know what range your BP is in. In addition, you’ll find out what the recommended actions are for each category. This is noteworthy, especially for one category which can be life threatening.

BP TIP: Lower BP by just breathing? A device is FDA approved and The American Heart Association gave it the thumbs up. It simply guides your breathing a few minutes a day which has been proven to lower BP as shown in studies. You can check it out in the manufacturer’s website by clicking here.

Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

The Blood Pressure Chart

The blood chart contains the following five categories:

  1. Normal
  2. Elevated
  3. High Blood Pressure Stage 1
  4. High Blood Pressure Stage 2
  5. Hypertensive Crisis

1. Normal Blood Pressure

Normal blood pressure is the first blood pressure category. What is the standard for normal blood pressure?

The standard for normal blood pressure is systolic blood pressure less than 120 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure less than 80 mmHg.

The systolic number is the upper number in the reading and diastolic is the lower number. This means the blood pressure reading would have to be 119/79 mmHg or lower to fall into the normal blood pressure category.

The “and” between the numbers is important to note. It means both numbers have to be less to be in the normal range and not just one of them 1.

Normal Blood Pressure Recommendations

If the blood pressure measurements fall into this category, it means blood pressure is doing great. Typically, a doctor will recommend continuing with heart healthy habits like:

  • Eating heart healthy foods.
  • Doing regular physical activity.
  • Avoiding any bad habits like smoking, excess alcohol or illegal drugs.
  • Don’t miss scheduled physicals.
  • Monitor blood pressure at home.

If you don’t have a home monitor and thinking about getting one, check out the one I recommend. It’s the Welch Allyn 1700 series and it’s sold on Amazon. Check out the current price by clicking here, Welch Allyn 1700.

I wrote a whole article about normal blood pressure and why it’s not what everyone thinks it is. If you’re interested, you can check it out right here, Normal Blood Pressure – Surprisingly It’s Not 120 Over 80.

2. Elevated Blood Pressure

Elevated blood pressure is the second category on the blood pressure chart. What is considered elevated blood pressure?

Elevated blood pressure is systolic blood pressure 120-129 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure less than 80 mmHg.

The “and” between the numbers is important to note. It means both numbers have to fall into each range and not just one of them. Therefore, a blood pressure reading of 121/79 mmHg falls into the elevated blood pressure category.

Consistent elevated blood pressure typically indicates a higher risk of developing high blood pressure. Therefore, it’s important to take action now to maintain a health blood pressure 2.

Elevated Blood Pressure Recommendations

For elevated blood pressure a physician will typically recommend the following:

  • Minor lifestyle changes.
  • Daily physical activity.
  • Follow a heart healthy diet.
  • Avoiding unhealthy habits like smoking, illegal drugs and excess alcohol.
  • Home monitoring of blood pressure.

To learn more about elevated blood pressure and why it’s so important check out my in-depth article here, The Elevated Blood Pressure Range.

blood pressure optimizer

( BP Optimizer – Lower BP Naturally, In Only 30 Days Or Pay Nothing…Visit Website Here  )

3. High Blood Pressure Stage 1

High blood pressure stage 1 is the 3rd category on the blood pressure chart. What does high blood pressure stage 1 mean?

High blood pressure stage 1 means a consistent systolic blood pressure from 130-139 mmHg or a diastolic pressure from 80-89 mmHg. High blood pressure stage 1 is the 3rd blood pressure category on the blood pressure and the first high blood pressure category.

The “or” between the numbers is important to note. It means either the systolic or diastolic pressure has to fall into each range and not both of them. Therefore, a blood pressure reading of 119/82 mmHg falls into the high blood pressure stage 1 category 3.

High blood pressure means blood pressure consistently high. Typically, high blood pressure doesn’t have any symptoms and can lead to more serious health issues. This makes high blood pressure dangerous and why it’s called the silent killer 4.

High Blood Pressure Stage 1 Recommendations

Having high blood pressure in this range can put many on high alert. For this reason people will ask, how to control high blood pressure stage 1?

To control high blood pressure stage 1, a physician will typically recommend the following:

  • Lifestyle changes.
  • Daily physical activity.
  • Follow a heart healthy diet.
  • Avoid unhealthy habits like excess alcohol, smoking and illegal drugs.
  • May consider blood pressure medication depending on the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Monitoring of blood pressure at home.

What are the risks of cardiovascular disease?

The following are 7 risks of cardiovascular disease:

  1. Family history: If close relatives have HBP or cardiovascular disease, the risk of high blood pressure is greater.
  2. Age: High blood pressure becomes more common as a person gets older due to blood vessel problems.
  3. Gender: Men are more likely to get HBP until age 64. Women are more likely to have blood pressure 64 or older.
  4. Ethnicity: Certain racial backgrounds are more likely to have HBP than others.
  5. Obesity: Extra pounds add stress to the heart, circulatory system and blood pressure.
  6. Cholesterol: Most people with HBP have high cholesterol.
  7. Stress, Alcohol or Smoking: Too much of any of these can raise blood pressure.

If you have high BP and don’t have a doctor or health plan, you may want to check out a health plan service I recommend. They can get a plan fitting your situation and affordable. Visit the eHealth Insurance website for more information.

Check out my detailed article about Stage 1 here, High Blood Pressure Stage 1 – The 1st High BP Range.

4. High Blood Pressure Stage 2

High blood pressure stage 2 is the 4th category on the blood pressure chart. What does high blood pressure stage 2 mean?

High blood pressure stage 2 means a consistent systolic blood pressure 140 mmHg or higher or a diastolic pressure 90 mmHg or higher. High blood pressure stage 2 is the 4th blood pressure category on the blood pressure and the second high blood pressure category.

The “or” between the numbers is important to note. It means either the systolic or diastolic pressure has to fall into each range and not both of them. Therefore, a blood pressure reading of 140/80 mmHg falls into the high blood pressure stage 2 category 5.

High Blood Pressure Stage 2 Recommendations

Stage 2 is the last category before hypertensive crisis. Therefore, in high blood pressure stage 2 what to do?

To control high blood pressure stage 2, a physician will typically recommend the following:

  • Lifestyle changes.
  • Daily physical activity.
  • Follow a heart healthy diet.
  • Avoid unhealthy habits like excess alcohol, smoking and illegal drugs.
  • Likely to prescribe blood pressure medication.
  • Monitoring of blood pressure at home.

Blood pressure medications come in many different classes 6. What are common blood pressure medications? Common blood pressure medications include:

  • Beta-blockers: They help to reduce the heart rate and lessen the amount of blood being pumped.
  • Ace inhibitors: They help the blood vessels expand which eases the flow of the blood.
  • Diuretics: Diuretics helps get rid of excess fluid and sodium.
  • Alpha blockers: They help the blood flow easier by relaxing the artery walls.
  • Calcium channel blockers: Calcium channel blockers open up the arteries and slow down the heart.
  • Angiotensin ll receptor blockers: Block the effects of angiotensin which opens up the arteries.
  • Alpha-2 receptor agonists: They decrease activity in the nervous system to help lower blood pressure.

Rad more about Stage 2 in my article, High Blood Pressure Stage 2 – The More Serious High BP Range.

5. Hypertensive Crisis

Hypertensive crisis is the 5th and worst category on the blood pressure chart 7. What blood pressure numbers are hypertensive crisis?

The numbers for hypertensive crisis are systolic blood pressure higher than 180 mmHg and/or diastolic blood pressure higher than 120 mmHg.

The and/or between the numbers is important to note. It means only one or both of the numbers have to fall into the range. Therefore, blood pressure numbers of either 170/121 mmHg or 190/110 mmHg falls into the hypertensive crisis category.

Hypertensive crisis requires medical attention. Therefore, contact a doctor immediately if the blood pressure readings fall into the hypertensive crisis range with no symptoms. If blood pressure is higher than 180 mmHg or 120 mmHg with the following symptoms call 911:

  • Chest pain
  • Back pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Change of vision

The severe consequences of uncontrolled blood pressure in this range include the following:

  • Stroke
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Memory loss
  • Heart attack
  • Damage to the eyes and kidneys
  • Loss of kidney function
  • Aortic dissection
  • Angina
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Eclampsia

What is the difference between hypertensive crisis and hypertensive emergency?

The difference between a hypertensive crisis and emergency is a hypertensive crisis is having BP numbers in the hypertensive range without symptoms. A hypertensive emergency is having BP numbers in the hypertensive crisis range with symptoms. The symptoms include chest pain, back pain, shortness of breath, numbness, weakness, speech problems and change of vision.

I’m surprised this category doesn’t get written about more often. Learn more about it in my article here, Hypertensive Crisis – You’re Calling 911 Or A Doctor.

( Click Get A Quote Above or Visit Website Here )

The New 2017 Blood Pressure Guidelines Changed The Blood Pressure Chart

In 2017, new blood pressure guidelines were released that replaced the older guidelines from 2003. The newer guidelines were developed by the American Heart Association, The American College of Cardiology and 9 other organizations in the health profession.

They were written by health experts and scientists who reviewed more than 900 published studies. The new guidelines went through a review and approval process.

Overnight, with the release of the new guidelines, people who were considered to have high blood pressure increased dramatically. People who weren’t considered as having HBP now had it 8.

Old Blood Pressure Chart vs New Blood Pressure Chart

  • With the older guidelines, normal blood pressure was under 140/90. Now, normal blood pressure is under 120/80.
  • The older guidelines classified 140/90 as HBP stage 1 hypertension. With the new guidelines, this is now considered HBP stage 2 hypertension.
  • Under the old guidelines, HBP was 140/90 and higher. Now, HBP is 130 and higher for systolic blood pressure or 80-89 mmHg for diastolic blood pressure.
  • The older guidelines had a category titled prehypertension. The new guidelines did away with that classification. Now, people who used to be considered prehypertension fall into either elevated or HBP stage 1.

In addition, by lowering the classification of HBP, there will be earlier intervention to help prevent more complications associated with HBP. In addition, the new guidelines stress the importance of the techniques used to measure blood pressure 9.

Using proper technique and readings based on the average of 2-3 readings on at least 2 different occasions. The new guidelines also stress the importance of home monitoring and proper technique to avoid false readings.

What The Numbers On The Blood Pressure Chart Mean

To better understand the blood pressure chart and the five different categories you may have wondered what the numbers mean and how they’re recorded. 

The heart pumps blood into large blood vessels every time it beats. It does this to supply blood to all parts and organs of the body. When the blood is pumped into the blood vessels, it puts pressure on the walls of the vessels. That pressure is indicated by taking your blood pressure 10.

Systolic vs Diastolic

Blood pressure is recorded in two ways resulting in two numbers. The higher number and the lower number. The first number or higher number is the Systolic Blood Pressure. What does systolic blood pressure mean?

Systolic blood pressure means how much pressure is exerted on the blood vessel walls when the heart beats pushing out blood. Systolic blood pressure is the upper number of the blood pressure reading.

The second number or lower number is the diastolic blood pressure. What is the definition of diastolic blood pressure?

The definition of diastolic blood pressure is how much pressure is exerted on the blood vessel walls when the heart is relaxed between beats. Diastolic blood pressure is the lower number of the blood pressure reading.

I wrote detailed, in-depth articles about both which you can check out by clicking the titles below:

Systolic Blood Pressure

Diastolic Blood Pressure

What The Numbers In A Blood Pressure Reading Mean

High Diastolic Blood Pressure

Sometimes only one number is considered high when the other number is normal. One of these times is high diastolic blood pressure. What is the high diastolic blood pressure range? The high diastolic blood pressure range is when diastolic blood pressure is 80 mmHg or higher.

Having high diastolic pressure increases the risk of the following:

  • Higher systolic blood pressure
  • Ischemic heart disease.
  • Stroke

One studied showed for every 10 mmHg increase in diastolic pressure, the risk of mortality from ischemic heart disease and stroke doubled 11.

To learn more about the meaning of high diastolic blood pressure, check out my article about it, High Diastolic Blood Pressure Meaning.

Isolated Systolic Hypertension

This is another one of those times when only one of the numbers is high while the other remains normal. What is the isolated hypertension range? The isolated hypertension range is when the systolic pressure is 130 mmHg or higher and the diastolic pressure is under 80 mmHg.

What is the primary cause of systolic hypertension in older adults? The primary cause of systolic hypertension in older adults is the increasing stiffness of blood vessels and long-term plaque buildup.

Isolated systolic high blood pressure is the most common form of high blood pressure in the elderly 12. Find out the percentages of risk and why this high blood pressure problem is expected to get worse in my article, Isolated Systolic Hypertension (High Blood Pressure).

Low Blood Pressure Chart

Many people ask, what’s the low blood pressure chart?

There is no official low blood pressure chart or category. The American Heart Association says there is no specific number for day to day blood pressure to be considered too low, as long as there are no symptoms present.

Most healthcare professionals consider low blood pressure too low if the systolic number is less than 90 mmHg or the diastolic number is less than 60 mmHg. The following are symptoms that would cause low blood pressure to be considered dangerous:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fainting
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of concentration
  • Blurred vision
  • Pale, cold, clammy skin
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Depression

If you have low blood pressure and any of the above symptoms, you should go to the hospital. As with high blood pressure, the consequences can be severe. It’s possible to go into shock which can be fatal. There’s also a risk of having a heart attack, stroke or kidney failure 13.

If you feel your blood pressure is too low but you don’t have any symptoms, you should contact your doctor and be guided by their advice.

Related Questions

What is the target blood pressure chart? Target blood pressure is the normal blood pressure category. Normal blood pressure is a systolic blood pressure number less than 120 mmHg and a diastolic blood pressure number less than 80 mmHg.

Printable Blood Pressure Chart

I made an instant download, printable FREE PDF blood pressure chart. Click the blue link and print, Printable Blood Pressure Chart.

Article Resources: Blood Pressure Explained follows strict guidelines to ensure our content is the highest journalistic standard. It's our mission to provide the reader with accurate, honest and unbiased guidance. Our content relies on medical associations, research institutions, government agencies and study resources. Learn more by reading our editorial policy.
  1. American Heart Association: Understanding Blood Pressure Readings[]
  2. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: Keep High Blood Pressure Under Control[]
  3. American College of Cardiology: New ACC/AHA High Blood Pressure Guidelines Lower Definition of Hypertension[]
  4. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: High Blood Pressure[]
  5. American Heart Association: What is High Blood Pressure?[]
  6. American Heart Association: Types of Blood Pressure Medications[]
  7. American Heart Association: Hypertensive Crisis: When You Should Call 911 for High Blood Pressure[]
  8. Harvard Health: New high blood pressure guidelines: Think your blood pressure is fine? Think again…[]
  9. AHA Journals Hypertension: 2017 ACC/AHA/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/AGS/APhA/ASH/ASPC/NMA/PCNA Guideline for the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Management of High Blood Pressure in Adults: A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines[]
  10. CDC: High Blood Pressure[]
  11. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Risk[]
  12. The American Journal of Medicine: Isolated Systolic Hypertension: An Update After Sprint[]
  13. American Heart Association: Low Blood Pressure – When Blood Pressure Is Too Low[]

Kevin Garce

Kevin Garce is a Certified Health Coach who encourages people by informing them on blood pressure topics important to them. His years of research and knowledge inspire people to achieve their goals. Read more here About Me

Recent Content

link to How To Lower Blood Pressure

How To Lower Blood Pressure

When it comes to the topic of blood pressure, most people are looking for ways to lower blood pressure. There are many effective methods people can do to help maintain healthier blood pressure levels. Therefore, what are ways to lower blood pressure? The following are ways to lower blood pressure: Pomegranate juice. Hibiscus tea. Spinach […]