How is blood pressure (BP) in adults classified?

Updated: Feb 22, 2019
  • Author: Matthew R Alexander, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Eric H Yang, MD  more...
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Answer

Based on recommendations of the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC 7), the classification of BP for adults aged 18 years or older has been as follows [5] :

  • Normal: Systolic lower than 120 mm Hg, diastolic lower than 80 mm Hg

  • Prehypertension: Systolic 120-139 mm Hg, diastolic 80-89 mm Hg

  • Stage 1: Systolic 140-159 mm Hg, diastolic 90-99 mm Hg

  • Stage 2: Systolic 160 mm Hg or greater, diastolic 100 mm Hg or greater

However, the 2017 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) updated guidelines for the prevention, detection, evaluation, and management of high blood pressure in adults eliminated the classification of prehypertension and divided hypertension into two levels [1, 2] :

  • Elevated blood pressure with a systolic pressure between 120 and 129 mm Hg and diastolic pressure less than 80 mm Hg

  • Stage 1 hypertension, with a systolic pressure of 130 to 139 mm Hg or a diastolic pressure of 80 to 89 mm Hg


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