What is Hypertension?

A blood pressure of 140/90 or higher is considered High Blood Pressure. Both numbers are important. If one or both numbers are usually high, you have high blood pressure. If you are being treated for high blood pressure, you still have high blood pressure even if you have repeated readings in the normal range.

There are two levels of High Blood Pressure: Stage 1 and Stage 2 (see the chart below).

Categories for Blood Pressure Levels in Adults*
(In mmHg, millimeters of mercury)

(Top number)
(Bottom number)
Normal Less than 120Less than 80
High Blood PressureSystolicDiastolic
Stage 1140-15990-99
Stage 2160 or higher100 or higher

* For adults 18 and older who:

  • Are not on medicine for high blood pressure  
  • Are not having a short-term serious illness  
  • Do not have other conditions such as Diabetes and kidney disease

Note: When systolic and diastolic blood pressures fall into different categories, the higher category should be used to classify blood pressure level. For example, 160/80 would be stage 2 high blood pressure.
There is an exception to the above definition of high blood pressure. A blood pressure of 130/80 or higher is considered high blood pressure in persons with Diabetes and chronic kidney disease.

See Also:

What Is High Blood Pressure?
What is normal blood pressure?
What is blood pressure?

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: July 5, 2011
Last revised: by Andrew G. Epstein, M.D.