Blood Pressure Guidelines (cont.)

Blood pressure measurement is listed with two numbers with normal being less than 120/80, with 120 being the systolic blood pressure when the heart is pushing blood through the arterial system; and 80 being the diastolic blood pressure when the arteries are at rest and the heart is refilling.

In people with a normal blood reading pressure, the arterial walls are flexible and allow relaxation of the artery walls. In patients with high blood pressure (hypertension), the artery walls are stiffer and present increased resistance to the blood that is trying to flow through them. This requires the heart to beat more forcefully and increases the pressure of blood leaving the heart.

In recent years, the guidelines to decide what a normal blood pressure reading is have become much more stringent. There are now four categories of blood pressure.

The chart below outlines the new blood pressure categories and the corresponding pressures in mm Hg (mercury):

Blood Pressure Guidelines

Category Systolic   Diastolic
Normal <120 AND < 80
Pre-Hypertension 121-139 OR OR 80-89
Hypertension Stage I 140-159 OR 90-99
Hypertension Stage II > 160 OR >100

High blood pressure is often called the silent killer because in the initial stages it presents with no symptoms. It is only after an organ in the body is irritated or damaged, that the consequences of high blood pressure are realized.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/1/2014