You’re probably used to getting your blood pressure taken during doctor visits.
Although you may not think much of it, it’s important to put on that arm cuff regularly.
Maintaining healthy blood pressure is key to managing your overall health and avoiding more serious issues such as heart attack, heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.
The range for what’s considered normal blood pressure varies depending on your age and sex.
While your healthcare provider will talk to you if your numbers seem abnormal, it’s good to know what your reading means.
In this article, we’ll explain the differences between normal blood pressure, hypertension, and hypotension.
Then, we’ll discuss blood pressure ranges by age group, when blood pressure is an emergency, and when to see a doctor about your blood pressure.
What Is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the amount of force your blood exerts on the walls of your arteries as it flows through your body. It’s normal for blood pressure to rise and fall throughout the day.
However, if your blood pressure remains abnormally high or low for a few days, see a healthcare provider.
Blood pressure readings consist of two numbers:
- Systolic blood pressure is the first or top number. It measures the pressure of the blood against the artery walls as the heart beats and pumps blood into the blood vessels.
- Diastolic blood pressure is the second or bottom number. It records the pressure in the arteries in between beats when the heart is at rest.
The normal blood pressure range for adults is between 90/60 mm Hg and 120/80 mm Hg.
Hypertension, the medical term for high blood pressure, is diagnosed when someone consistently has systolic (top number) blood pressure readings of 130 mm Hg or higher, or diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure readings of 80 mm Hg or higher.
High blood pressure can be caused by certain health conditions, and it can also lead to more serious health conditions such as a heart attack.
Hypertension is considered a silent condition because there are usually no symptoms until it affects some body organs.
The only way to know for certain that you have high blood pressure is to check your blood pressure on a regular basis.
Hypotension, or low blood pressure, is diagnosed when someone consistently has systolic blood pressure of 90 mm Hg or less or diastolic blood pressure of 60 mm Hg or less.
Some people naturally have lower blood pressure due to genetic factors. Other people have low blood pressure due to a health condition or certain medications.
Like hypertension, hypotension often has no symptoms. If someone does have symptoms, they may include:
- Blurry vision
- Nausea or vomiting
- Cold, clammy, pale skin
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Lack of concentration
- Unusual thirst
Blood Pressure Ranges by Age Group
Normal blood pressure for kids varies by age, sex, and height.
Below are average blood pressure ranges for children of various ages.
|Age||Systolic Blood Pressure||Diastolic Blood Pressure|
|Newborn (up to one month)||60-90 mm Hg||20-60 mm Hg|
|Infant||87-105 mm Hg||53-66 mm Hg|
|Toddler||95-105 mm Hg||53-66 mm Hg|
|Preschooler||95-110 mm Hg||56-70 mm Hg|
|School-age child||97-112 mm Hg||57-71 mm Hg|
|Adolescent||112-128 mm Hg||66-80 mm Hg|
The normal blood pressure range for adults is between 90/60 mm Hg and 120/80 mm Hg. Before age 55, men have a greater chance than women of having high blood pressure.
For women, the risk of high blood pressure increases after menopause (which typically starts between ages 45-55).
The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommend that men and women ages 65 and older aim for blood pressure below 130/80 mm Hg.
Lifestyle changes such as increased physical activity, a heart-healthy diet low in sodium, and limited alcohol consumption can help regulate blood pressure.
It is also common for doctors to prescribe blood pressure medication to older adults.
When Blood Pressure Is an Emergency
While normal blood pressure ranges vary for adults and children, 180/120 mm Hg is known as a hypertensive crisis for all age groups.
If your blood pressure reading is 180/120 mm Hg or higher and you have any of the following symptoms, seek emergency medical attention:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Back pain
- Numbness or weakness
- Change in vision
- Difficulty speaking
- Severe headache
When to See a Medical Provider
Regardless of your age, take the time to get an annual medical check-up, which will include a blood pressure reading. This is the best way to keep tabs on your blood pressure and spot hypertension in the early stages.
If you have hypertension, see your doctor for regular check-ups.
They may also ask you to monitor your blood pressure at home. Contact your healthcare provider if you have high readings for several days
Also contact your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing symptoms of low blood pressure such as frequent, unexplained fainting or dizziness.
How K Health Can Help
Did you know you can get affordable primary care with the K Health app? Download K to check your symptoms, explore conditions and treatments, and if needed text with a provider in minutes.
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Frequently Asked Questions
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
Age-Based Pediatric Blood Pressure Reference Charts. (2018).
Measure Your Blood Pressure. (2021).
Older Adults and Hypertension: Beyond the 2017 Guideline for Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Management of High Blood Pressure in Adults. (2020).
Understanding Blood Pressure Readings. (2022).
Vital Signs: Normal Blood Pressure (mmHg) (PICU chart). (2022).
Worldwide Trends in Blood Pressure From 1975 to 2015. (2016).