Classification of Blood Pressure (Hypertension)1
Blood pressure can be grouped into different categories: normal, elevated, stage 1, stage 2, and hypertensive crisis.
Blood pressure is normal when numbers are less than 120/80 mm Hg.
Blood pressure is elevated when systolic blood pressure (SBP) ranges from 120-129 mm Hg AND diastolic blood pressure (DBP) is less than 80 mm Hg. Non-medical therapy, such as heart-healthy diet and increased physical activity, is preferred at this stage.
Hypertension Stage 1
Stage 1 is when systolic blood pressure (SBP) ranges from 130-139 mm Hg OR when diastolic blood pressure (DBP) ranges from 80-89 mm Hg. At this stage, doctors may consider prescribing blood pressure-lowering medication in addition to lifestyle changes (improved diet and exercise). The doctor’s decision to prescribe medication will depend on your risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), such as heart attack or stroke.
Hypertension Stage 2
Stage 2 is when systolic blood pressure (SBP) is greater than or equal to 140 mm Hg OR when diastolic blood pressure (DBP) is greater than or equal to 90 mm Hg. At this stage, doctors are likely to prescribe a combination of blood pressure-lowering medications with lifestyle changes.
If your blood pressure is more than 180/120 mm Hg, and you are NOT experiencing any other symptoms, it is classified as an hypertensive urgency, and you should immediately seek medical assistance.
If your blood pressure is more than 180/120 mm Hg AND you are experiencing signs and symptoms of target organ damage (shortness of breath, chest pain, back pain, headache, numbness, change in vision, loss of kidney function, and difficulty speaking), it is classified as an hypertensive emergency, and you should call 911 immediately.