Definition: High blood pressure is now defined as readings of 130 mm Hg and higher for the systolic blood pressure measurement, or readings of 80 and higher for the diastolic measurement. That is a change from the old definition of 140/90 and higher, reflecting complications that can occur at those lower numbers.

The 2017 ACC/AHA guideline for high BP in adults provides four BP categories based on the average of two or more in-office readings on 2 or more occasions:

  • Normal: Lower than 120 mm Hg systolic BP (SBP) and 80 mm Hg diastolic BP (DBP).
  • Elevated: 120–129 mm Hg SBP and lower than 80 mm Hg DBP.
  • Stage 1 hypertension: 130–139 mm Hg SBP or 80–89 mm Hg DBP.
  • Stage 2 hypertension: Higher than or equal to 140 mm Hg SBP or 90 mm Hg DBP.