The blood pressure chart is further down the page, as well as a blood pressure quiz, which may be completed before or after reading the article and viewing the blood pressure chart.
There are always two pressures expressed in blood pressure ranges, the systolic and the diastolic pressure.
Blood pressure ranges are usually written using the systolic number before or above the diastolic number, for example 120/80 mmHg. The systolic pressure, which is the first number shown, the 120 in the chart below, is the pressure reading as the heart pumps blood out from the ventricle into the veins. The diastolic pressure, 80 as illustrated in the blood pressure chart, is the resting pressure, which is between beats when the pressure decreases before the next heart pumping action.
For young adults aged 20 to 40, the normal, healthy blood pressure ranges are 120/80 but there is also normal to high, 130/85 and normal to low, 110/75. The high blood pressure ranges for this age group progress in stages from 140/90 up as high as 210/120. The low blood pressure ranges go from 90/60 to a dangerously low level of 50/33. By the age of 50, the average, normal blood pressure ranges have risen to 129/85 and at 60, there is a further increase in the average normal range to 134/87.
High blood pressure is termed hypertension, low blood pressure is hypotension. If there is no obvious cause for hypertension, which is often the case, it is called primary hypertension. Secondary hypertension, the term given to only 5 to 10% of cases, can be caused by a number of factors, amongst them kidney or heart disease and hardening of the arteries.
Blood pressure changes at four phases throughout life
Researchers have found that blood pressure changes at 4 phases throughout life: a quick increase throughout adolescent growth; a milder increase early on in adult years; an acceleration in the 40s; and by the age of 50, the normal average blood pressure ranges have increased to 129/85. During a period in late adult years, blood pressure will increase slowly and then reduces.
The primary causes of blood pressure increasing over a lifetime can be modified and could be focused on to help prevent heart disease: even though high blood pressure often has no obvious symptoms, this condition could lead to life threatening stroke and heart attacks, so a reduction in blood pressure is crucial for health.
A decrease as well as increase in blood pressure affects lifetime cardiovascular disease risk
According to a study, a decrease as well as increase in your blood pressure throughout middle age could significantly affect your lifetime cardiovascular disease risk.
Individuals that maintained or lowered blood pressure to normal blood pressure levels by 55 years old had the lowest lifetime cardiovascular disease risk of between 22% and 41%. In comparison, people who already had high blood pressure by 55 years old had a greater lifetime risk of between 42% and 69%.
Both avoiding high blood pressure throughout middle age or delaying the start of the development of high blood pressure seem to have a significant affect on a person’s remaining lifetime cardiovascular disease risk.
The study also found:
- Nearly 70% of all men that get hypertension during middle age will have a cardiovascular disease incident by 85 years old.
- Women that get hypertension by earlier middle age have a higher lifetime cardiovascular disease risk of 49.4% than those that have kept normal blood pressure until the age of 55.
- Women generally had higher increases in blood pressure throughout middle age.
- At an average of 55 years old, 40.8% of women and 25.7% of men had blood pressure levels that were normal; 47.5% of women and 49.4% of men had prehypertension.
- The overall lifetime cardiovascular disease risk for people aged 55 years or more was 39.9% for women and 52.5% for men, after factoring in all blood pressure levels.
- The lifetime cardiovascular disease risk was higher among Blacks in comparison to Whites of the same sex, and went up with increasing blood pressure at middle age.
The first or blue section of the blood pressure chart below the quiz explains the systolic and the diastolic pressure, the two pressures used for expressing blood pressure ranges.
As shown in the blue section of the chart, blood pressure ranges are typically shown with the systolic number before or above the diastolic pressure, e.g. 120/80 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury).
The systolic pressure is the reading when the heart pumps blood out of the ventricle into the veins. The diastolic pressure is the resting pressure, between heartbeats as the pressure goes down ahead of the next heart pumping action.
The second section of the chart shows the different blood pressure range categories and their corresponding readings. More information on blood pressure ranges.
The third section of the blood pressure chart gives lifestyle change recommendations to manage high blood pressure with approximate systolic blood pressure reduction.
Blood Pressure Quiz