What is considered a normal blood pressure range for optimal heart health?

Understanding a normal blood pressure range is vital for everyone as blood pressure that is too high or too low can be very dangerous. When your numbers are too high this will increase your risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart disease, and numbers that are too low can cause you to feel faint or dizzy.

While low blood pressure, or hypotension, may not be dangerous itself, fainting at inopportune times can cause injury and consistent dizziness can interfere with a person’s everyday life.

Many people assume that there is one ideal reading for blood pressure but in truth, there are several blood pressure ranges that are healthy and those that can be cause for alarm. Consider those ranges in blood pressure readings and what they mean for your health.

Healthy Blood Pressure Ranges (Average Adult 20+ Years)

The top or first number of your blood pressure reading is your systolic number and this refers to the pressure in your arteries when the heart beats to push blood through the circulatory system. The bottom or second number is your diastolic number, the pressure when the heart is at rest between beats.

These numbers are measured in units called millimeters of mercury or mmHG. According to the American Heart Association, the normal blood pressure is less than 120 for your systolic number and less than 80 for your diastolic number, or <120 over <80.

Let’s take a closer look at the individual numbers…

A systolic reading of 120 is considered the baseline. If your systolic number is between 120-139, you have what is called pre-hypertension or the beginnings of high blood pressure. If that number is between 140-159, you have stage 1 hypertension or high blood pressure. If that number is over 160 you have stage 2 hypertension which is very dangerous. If it’s over 180 you will need immediate medical attention as that is called hypertensive crisis.

A normal blood pressure range also considers the second number or your diastolic reading. A reading of 80 is considered baseline.

If your reading is 80-89, your have pre-hypertension. If the reading is 90-99, you have stage 1 hypertension, and if the reading is 100 or over, you have stage 2 hypertension. Anything over 110 is considered hypertensive crisis, and again you will need immediate medical attention to figure out what the problem is.

Lower blood pressure should also be a concern

While many people are concerned about having high blood pressure, it’s also good to think about your overall health if the numbers fall out of a healthy range for low blood pressure. If the systolic reading is between 90 and 120, this is still considered within a healthy and normal range. If the diastolic reading is between 60 and 80, this too is considered normal and healthy.

However, if either number falls below these ranges, meaning your systolic reading is below 90 or your diastolic reading is below 60, you may have low blood pressure that should be monitored by a doctor.

Changes in blood pressure ranges

It’s important to note that while your blood pressure readings may change with age, a normal blood pressure range does not. As a person gets older they may see a rise in their blood pressure readings while others may see their blood pressure drop slightly, but the numbers for what is considered healthy do not change based on a person’s age, weight, ethnicity, or any other factors.

This is why it’s important to think about having readings done regularly especially as you get older, if you lose or gain weight, or have any other risk factors for an increase in blood pressure.

What’s the bottom line?

As you are likely aware blood pressure tests are usually part of the yearly physical, especially as you get older. So your doctor will be able to tell you if your numbers fall within normal blood pressure ranges or not. Keep in mind these numbers do change, and one or two “bad” readings do not necessarly indicate a problem. Alcohol, stress, smoking, medications that you are taking…these can all affect your readings, so be sure to mention these things to your doctor so he or she can take that into consideration when making an assessment of your numbers.

If you do have high blood pressure, there are ways to bring it down besides with potentially harmful blood pressure medications. Dietary changes, regular exercise, stress management techniques and supplementation can all help get you into a normal blood pressure range. Talk to your general physician or cardiologist and see what your options are.