High Blood Pressure Classification Chart

The following high blood pressure chart shows how blood pressure is classified into a normal blood pressure range, a high normal blood pressure range (previously known as prehypertension) and two stages of high blood pressure or hypertension. You can download a printable blood pressure chart on which you can plot your own blood pressure at the bottom of the page.

Blood pressure readings chart

A normal reading blood pressure is one that’s below 120/80 mmHg. If your BP is consistently at 120/80 mmHg or above, then you have an elevated blood pressure, and above certain levels you have high blood pressure, or hypertension.

It’s now recognised that if your blood pressure readings are above 120/80 mmHg your risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke is higher than normal, and it’s advisable to make diet and lifestyle changes to help bring down your blood pressure readings.

Do you have high blood pressure?

One-off readings are not used to diagnose hypertension as blood pressure will often go up when it is being measured by a doctor or nurse. This is known as White Coat Hypertension and results from the apprehension and stress of going to your doctor’s surgery.

If your blood pressure is consistently raised when measured two or three times, your doctor will arrange for you to wear a device that records your blood pressure regularly over 24 hours. This is known as ambulatory blood pressure monitoring involves wearing a blood pressure arm cuff, attached to an automatic device, that inflates to check your blood pressure – typically every 30 minutes during the day and hourly overnight. This approach has reduced the number of people wrongly diagnosed with high blood pressure, and prescribed blood pressure drugs, by at least a quarter.

Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring will provide an average reading of how your blood pressure changes throughout the day and night. This additional information will enable your doctor to diagnose whether or not you have elevated blood pressure or hypertension.

Old blood pressure definition versus the new blood pressure classification

Recently, the definition of high blood pressure was changed in the United States. The classification of ‘prehypertension’ was removed and divided into a new definition of ‘elevated blood pressure’ while the level for diagnosing stage 1 hypertension was reduced.

You can compared the old and new definitions in the following table. Currently, the older definition is still in use in Europe but is likely to follow the US lead in the near future.

Systolic BP

(lower reading)

Diastolic BP

(lower reading)

Older Definition

New US Definition

Less than 120 mmHg Less than 80 mmHg Normal BP Normal BP
120-129 mmHg Less than 80 mmHg  


Elevated BP
130–139 mmHg 80–89 mmHg Stage 1 hypertension
140–159 mmHg 90–99 mmHg Stage 1 hypertension Stage 2 hypertension
> 160 mmHg >100 mmHg Stage 2 hypertension

Record your blood pressure on a chart

You can work out what your own blood pressure readings mean using the following graphs – one showing the older definition still in use in Europe, and the other showing the brand new US definitions.

Simply find your systolic pressure reading (top number) on the left of the charts, and your diastolic pressure reading (bottom number) across the bottom of the charts. Where the lines meet will show if your blood pressure is low, normal or within the elevated blood pressure or hypertension ranges. You may find that, while before your blood pressure was prehypertension, you now have a diagnosis of elevated blood pressure, or of stage 1 hypertension.

Older Blood Pressure Definitions Newer Blood Pressure Definitions
high blood pressure classification chart

Only one of your readings has to be in the elevated or hypertension range to make the diagnosis so, if your systolic and diastolic blood pressures fall into different categories the higher classification is used.

If your blood pressure is raised, self-monitoring is key to maintaining good control.

Click here for advice on choosing a blood pressure monitor to use at home.

See my recommended upper arm blood pressure monitors.


Older Blood Pressure Chart

Blood Pressure Chart NEW US

 Image credit: shutterstock

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4 thoughts on “High Blood Pressure Classification Chart

  • Kenny Lee

    I do not have any blood pressure monitoring device at my home. Is there any symptoms of hypertension that is visible or felt that we can be aware of. What is the best time to take a BP measurement at home. If we took it after meal or shower. Will it affect the accuracy of the reading?

    • DrSarahBrewer Post author

      Hi Kenny, the problem is that hypertension usually doesn’t cause symptoms even when it is dangerously high. Arrange to have it checked by your doctor or nurse. Occupational health centres in some workplaces may check it for you, or even a pharmacist. If you are over 40 it’s a good idea to have it checked at least every 2 or 3 years. If under 40 every 5 years or more often if hypertension runs in your family.

  • Sue Lee

    I had not really understand the ranges before. This is great inforamtion. With medication I am in the good range now but I was prehypertensive before. Luckily I never reached the severe stage!

    • DrSarahBrewer Post author

      Glad you found it helpful, Sue. It’s so important to keep your blood pressure controlled – even though it causes no symptoms (for now….)