Blood pressure is an important indicator of how healthy you are. But many people cannot classify the blood pressure values correctly and are irritated by the combination of numbers. Here you get an overview that answers the most important questions: What is high blood pressure numbers? What do systolic and diastolic values mean? When is blood pressure normal and when does high blood pressure begin? What are the optimal blood pressure values for women, men and children? Everything in a large overview including clear tables.
How are blood pressure values measured?
Blood pressure is the force with which blood presses against the walls of the arteries. The blood is pumped through the arteries by the heart, which puts pressure on the walls of the arteries. When blood pressure is elevated, it is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and is one of the leading causes of death. Therefore, the blood pressure values are checked at almost every doctor’s visit.
Measurements are usually taken by the doctor’s assistant or by medical specialists on the upper arm, more rarely on the wrist. Whether you measure on the right or left arm makes no difference. However, it should always be measured on the same arm, preferably on the one with the higher blood pressure values. This ensures comparability. In addition, measurements are never taken directly after physical exertion or excitement, as both temporarily increase blood pressure. Resting for at least three minutes ensures that the blood pressure readings are correct.
Blood pressure values always consist of two numbers (eg 120/80 mmHg): the systolic value (first or upper value) and the diastolic value (second or lower value). The systolic value shows how high the blood pressure is when the blood is pumped from the heart into the arteries. The doctor can read from the systolic value how the heart muscle and vascular system are doing. The diastolic value shows the blood pressure during the relaxation phase of the heart between heartbeats. Both values are given in units of mmHg (millimetres of mercury). Not only in the doctor’s office, but in practically every pharmacy there is the possibility to have your blood pressure measured. If you want or need to keep a close eye on your blood pressure, you can check it at home with a handy blood pressure monitor.
Detailed and further information can be found in the large overview on measuring blood pressure.
Blood pressure table – the complete overview
The blood pressure values can be divided into different categories. These include low, optimal, normal, high normal and the various degrees of hypertension (high blood pressure).
The following table shows the various blood pressure values as an overview:
|Category||Systolic (mm Hg)||Diastolic (mm Hg)|
|Hypertension grade 1||140-159Norma||90-99|
|Hypertension grade 2||160-179||100-109|
|Grade 3 hypertension||179||109|
Blood pressure readings normal blood pressure
Normal blood pressure readings in adults are 120/80 mmHg. Most people have heard the expression “120 to 80” at a doctor’s. It describes the optimal blood pressure values. But values above and below are still normal blood pressure values.
Normal blood pressure – values:
• Optimal blood pressure – around 120 / 80
• Normal blood pressure – under 130 / under 85
• High-normal blood pressure – max 139 / max 89
Doctors differentiate between normal and high-normal blood pressure because patients with certain pre-existing conditions (e.g. diabetes mellitus or dyslipidemia) are particularly at risk, while high-normal blood pressure is acceptable in healthy people. Temporary fluctuations from one area to another are normal and harmless.
If the values are below 120/80 mmHg, this is usually harmless if there are no side effects such as a high heart rate, ringing in the ears, tiredness, dizziness, blurred vision or fainting. Some medical circles are of the opinion that blood pressure values below 120/80 mmHg are even healthier. However, this opinion is controversial.
Low blood pressure (hypotension) is only spoken of from values below 100/60 mmHg. Low blood pressure does not harm the body, but it can indicate serious diseases such as heart failure, pulmonary artery embolism or thyroid disorders.
Blood pressure normal values by age (table)
The above blood pressure values apply to adults. In children, the normal values are well below those of adults, especially in young children. The older the children get and the more they approach adulthood, the more the blood pressure values also approach each other.
The following table shows the blood pressure values broken down by age:
|Age||Blood pressure (mmHg)|
As the table shows, blood pressure increases by a few points with every decade up until old age. This is because arteries lose elasticity as we age, and stiffer arteries cause blood pressure to rise. As a result, slightly higher blood pressure values are considered acceptable for people over the age of about 60, provided there are no other risk factors or diseases. After consultation with the doctor, the systolic value may then be a maximum of 150 mmHg.
Blood pressure readings in children
Blood pressure readings in children depend on their age and body size. At the same age and different body size, the values also differ. Up to about the age of 13, the values of girls and boys are very similar, only with puberty do the blood pressure values in boys tend to rise more than in girls.
High blood pressure is rare in children, but it can occur with obesity, a family history, heart or kidney disease, and as a side effect of taking ADHD medication. From the age of three, blood pressure can also be measured regularly at home in the offspring. At the age of three, the normal values for girls are 106/68 and for boys 106/67 (average height, deviations are possible for smaller or larger children).
Blood pressure values by gender
Gender differences can be observed in blood pressure values, which decrease over the course of life and practically disappear from the age of fifty.
For example, according to federal health reporting, blood pressure in women aged 20 to 29 was 119/75 mmHg. Men of the same age had blood pressures of 129/78. The gap was smaller for 40 to 49-year-olds: 130/82 mmHg in women and 135/88 mmHg in men. Between the ages of 60 and 69, both were almost equal (women: 153/86; men: 150/88).
Therefore, in adults, as a rule, only one value is emphasized for everyone: the blood pressure in adult men and women should not be more than 140/90 mmHg.
Blood pressure values in women
The following table shows the average blood pressure values of women by age:
|Women by age||Systolic Blood Pressure||Diastolic Blood Pressure|
|20 to 29 years||119||75|
|30 to 39 years||122||78|
|40 to 49 years||130||82|
|50 to 59 years||143||86|
|60 to 69 years||153||86|
|70 to 79 years||155||83|
Blood pressure values in men
The following table shows the average blood pressure values of men by age:
|Men by age||Systolic Blood Pressure||Diastolic Blood Pressure|
|20 to 29 years||129||78|
|30 to 39 years||130||84|
|40 to 49 years||135||88|
|50 to 59 years||143||89|
|60 to 69 years||150||88|
|70 to 79 years||153||83|
What is high blood pressure numbers?
High blood pressure (high blood pressure / hypertension) is defined as blood pressure values above 140/90 mmHg. Doctors divide the severity of high blood pressure into three categories.
High blood pressure – values:
• Grade 1: mild hypertension (mild high blood pressure) – 140 to 159 / 90 to 99
• Grade 2: moderate hypertension (moderate high blood pressure) – 160 to 179 / 100 to 109
• Grade 3: severe hypertension (severe high blood pressure) – over 180 / over 110
Because blood pressure rises with activity and stress, a single high blood pressure reading is not a cause for concern. In order to diagnose high blood pressure, there must be values above 140/90 mmHg with at least three measurements on two different days.
Interesting to know: Some people receive false blood pressure readings in the practice or clinic because they are upset by the situation at the doctor’s. Measuring blood pressure at home can unmask this so-called white coat hypertension.
What can be done to lower blood pressure?
High blood pressure can cause serious vascular and organ damage (heart attack, cardiac insufficiency, atrial fibrillation, stroke, kidney damage) and must be treated. Doctors recommend tackling the problem from two angles: lifestyle changes and medication. Blood pressure values can be lowered naturally by making small adjustments. If this is not enough, there are also numerous medications for high blood pressure .
The primary cause of high blood pressure is obesity. High blood pressure is far less common in lean individuals and is a sign of a serious medical condition, side effects of medication, or excessive consumption of alcohol, coffee, or liquorice.
A meat-free or at least low-meat diet, which contains a lot of varied plant food, has a particularly beneficial effect on reducing weight and blood pressure values. Fruit and vegetables contain a lot of potassium, which is a natural blood pressure reducer. Studies show that vegetarians have significantly lower blood pressure (systolic 6.9 mmHg and diastolic 4.7 mmHg lower than meat eaters). High blood pressure patients should also pay attention to salt. The recommendation is a maximum of six grams per day. Salt is mainly found in ready meals and fast food, but it is also found in high amounts in certain mineral waters.
Regular exercise is doubly good when you have high blood pressure, it helps to reduce stress and lowers blood pressure. Three sports units of around 30 to 45 minutes per week are ideal. If endurance sports are still too strenuous at first, recreational sports once a week are sufficient. Important: Clarify with your doctor how intensely you can exercise!
Other factors include alcohol consumption and lack of sleep, both of which raise blood pressure. Therefore, only drink alcohol in moderation or avoid it completely. In the evening, measures to reduce stress (autogenic training, muscle relaxation exercises) help to fall asleep better. When you sleep, blood pressure levels drop by around 15 percent – a relief for the body.
A healthy lifestyle can usually normalize high blood pressure and patients no longer have to worry about secondary diseases. If the countermeasures are not sufficient, an antihypertensive drug can help. There are different substances to choose from and usually one tablet a day is enough to regulate blood pressure.