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 (known as prehypertension) and three stages of high blood pressure or hypertension. You can download a printable blood pressure chart on which you can plot your own blood pressure using the clickable blue link 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 greater than 140/90 mmHg, then you have high blood pressure, or hypertension.

If your blood pressure falls between these two figures, then it is classed as ‘high normal’ or, more accurately, as prehypertension. It’s now recognised that if your blood pressure falls within the range of 120/80 to 140/90 mmHg your risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke is higher than normal, and it’s advisable to lower it.

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:

Stage 1 hypertension if your blood pressure in the clinic is 140/90 mmHg or higher and your average daytime level on subsequent ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (or home blood pressure monitoring) is 135/85 mmHg or higher.

Stage 2 hypertension if your blood pressure in the clinic is 160/100 mmHg or higher and your average daytime level on subsequent ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (or home blood pressure monitoring) is 150/95 mmHg or higher.

Severe hypertension is assumed if your clinic systolic blood pressure is 180 mmHg or higher or clinic diastolic blood pressure is 110 mmHg or higher.

If you know your current blood pressure, you can check where it falls in the blood pressure ranks using the following chart:


Record your blood pressure on a chart

You can also work out what your two blood pressure readings mean by using the following graph. Simply find your systolic pressure (top number) on the left of the chart, and your diastolic pressure (bottom number) across the bottom of the chart. The colour will show if either reading is low, ideal or within the pre-hypertension or hypertension range.

high blood pressure classification chart

Only one of these numbers has to be higher (or lower) than it should be to raise a red flag 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.


 Image credit: shutterstock

Please leave any comments or questions ...

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….)