What is a healthy blood pressure reading?

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Dr. Rozan J. Razzouk, MD
Family Practitioner

The American Heart Association categorizes “normal” blood pressure as one with a systolic pressure of less than 120 mm Hg and a diastolic pressure of less than 80 mm Hg, or 120/80 mm Hg. Yet, athletes and fitness enthusiasts can have “normal” blood pressure as low as 95/60 mm Hg.

Dr. Ozgen Dogan
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Normal blood pressure should be less than 120/80 no matter your age or gender. Whether you're 20 years old or 80 years old, male or female, a healthy blood pressure level is always less than 120/80. Blood pressure creeps into the unhealthy range when it's between 120-140/80-90. This level is considered early stage high blood pressure and comes with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The good news is these numbers can usually be reversed by changes in diet, exercise and lifestyle. When blood pressure exceeds 140-150/90-l00, it's considered stage 1 hypertension. When it exceeds 160/100, it's considered stage 2 hypertension. At these levels, in addition to changing eating and lifestyle habits, medication may be prescribed. Blood pressure for those with diabetes or kidney disease should be below 130/80.

Dr. Patrick S. Dowling, MD
Family Practitioner

In December 2013, there were new national recommendations issued known as “JNC-8.” This report listed revised normal blood pressure goals by age and condition. For a person under the age of 60, a target blood pressure is less than 140 over 90 (written as 140/90). If you are 60 or older, the new target is now less than 150/90. For patients with diabetes or chronic kidney disease the goal is 140/90, regardless of age.

The higher number is called systolic blood pressure; the lower number is called diastolic blood pressure. The lower your blood pressure the better off you are unless you feel dizzy or light-headed. If your blood pressure is 90/60 and you feel fine, you’re probably going to live a long life.

Blood pressure is measured as two numbers: systolic pressure, exerted as the heart beats, and diastolic pressure, exerted between beats. Normal blood pressure is lower than 120 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) systolic and 80 mmHg diastolic. A measurement of 120 to 139 systolic and 80 to 89 diastolic indicates prehypertension, which affects nearly 30 percent of adults and increases the risk of developing high blood pressure.

A healthy blood pressure number is when the top number (systolic) is 120 mmHg or less and the bottom number (diastolic) is 80 mmHg or less. This would be written 120/80 mmHg. A reading is considered high if the systolic is  greater than or equal to 140 or the diastolic is greater than or equal to 90 mmHg.

Dr. Holly S. Andersen, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

The most desirable blood pressure reading is 120/80 or less. A study called the Sprint Trial found that, although we think that a blood pressure reading of 140/90 or less is normal, a lower blood pressure measurement is even better. 

High blood pressure is bad for your health. Think of a hose with high pressure water flowing through it. If the water is constantly at that high pressure, it can cause weakness with the hose and problems downstream. You want to lower the pressure. The same goes for high blood pressure. Ways you can help keep your blood pressure healthy are:

  • Exercise
  • Cut down on salt
  • Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables
Dr. Jonathan A. Fialkow, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Blood pressure is composed of two measurements: systolic pressure and diastolic pressure. The systolic pressure (top number) is the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats; diastolic pressure (bottom number) is the pressure in the arteries when the heart is resting and filling between beats.

  • Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80.
  • The pre-hypertension category includes systolic pressures between 120 and 139, and diastolic pressures between 80 and 89.
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure) is diagnosed after several readings over time are greater than 140/90.

A healthy blood pressure reading in adults is less than 130 on top and less than 95 on the bottom, says Randy Bergman, MD, of Northeast Methodist Hospital. Watch this video to learn what it means to have a different blood pressure reading.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.