What is normal blood pressure?

Ideally, we should all have a blood pressure below 120 over 80 (120/80). This is the ideal blood pressure for people wishing to have good health. At this level, we have a much lower risk of heart disease or stroke.

If your blood pressure is optimal, this is great news. By following our healthy living advice, you will be able to keep it this way.
If your blood pressure is above 120/80mmHg, you will need to lower it.

Most adults in the UK have blood pressure readings in the range from 120 over 80 (120/80) to 140 over 90 (140/90). If your blood pressure is within this range, you should be taking steps to bring it down or to stop it rising any further.

The reason why people with blood pressure readings in this range should lower it, even though this is not classified as 'high' blood pressure, is that the higher your blood pressure, the higher your risk of health problems. For example, someone with a blood pressure level of 135 over 85 (135/85) is twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke as someone with a reading of 115 over 75 (115/75).

Blood pressure chart

Use the blood pressure chart below to see what your blood pressure means. The blood pressure chart is suitable for adults of any age. (The level for high blood pressure does not change with age.)

Blood pressure readings have two numbers, for example 140/90.

The top number is your systolic blood pressure. (The highest pressure when your heart beats and pushes the blood round your body.) The bottom one is your diastolic blood pressure. (The lowest pressure when your heart relaxes between beats.)

The blood pressure chart below shows ranges of high, low and healthy blood pressure readings.



Using this blood pressure chart: To work out what your blood pressure readings mean, just find your top number (systolic) on the left side of the blood pressure chart and read across, and your bottom number (diastolic) on the bottom of the blood pressure chart. Where the two meet is your blood pressure.

What blood pressure readings mean

As you can see from the blood pressure chart, only one of the numbers has to be higher or lower than it should be to count as either high blood pressure or low blood pressure:

* 90 over 60 (90/60) or less: You may have low blood pressure. More on low blood pressure.

* More than 90 over 60 (90/60) and less than 120 over 80 (120/80): Your blood pressure reading is ideal and healthy. Follow a healthy lifestyle to keep it at this level.

* More than 120 over 80 and less than 140 over 90 (120/80-140/90): You have a normal blood pressure reading but it is a little higher than it should be, and you should try to lower it. Make healthy changes to your lifestyle.

* 140 over 90 (140/90) or higher (over a number of weeks): You may have high blood pressure (hypertension). Change your lifestyle - see your doctor or nurse and take any medicines they may give you. More on high blood pressure

So:

* if your top number is 140 or more - then you may have high blood pressure, regardless of your bottom number.

* if your bottom number is 90 or more - then you may have high blood pressure, regardless your top number.

* if your top number is 90 or less - then you may have low blood pressure, regardless of your bottom number.

* if your bottom number is 60 or less - then you may have low blood pressure, regardless of your top number.

How to lower your blood pressure

An unhealthy lifestyle will raise your blood pressure over time. And the higher your blood pressure becomes, the higher your risk of having a stroke or heart attack in the future.

But the good news is that if you have high blood pressure, healthy changes will help to bring it down. And you don't have to wait until you have high blood pressure to make healthy lifestyle changes. The more you can reduce your blood pressure, the lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke will be.

1. Blood Pressure Diet - Eat less salt

Too much salt raises your blood pressure, so it is important to eat as little as possible. In fact, some people with high blood pressure may be able to avoid blood pressure medicines by cutting down on salt.

Most of the salt you eat is not what you add to your food, but is in prepared foods like bread, breakfast cereals and ready meals.

Donít add salt to food when cooking or at the table. When shopping for food, check the labels and choose low-salt options when you can.

2. Blood Pressure Diet - Eat more fruit and vegetables

Eating more fruit and vegetables helps to lower your blood pressure. Adults should eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day. A portion is 80 grams, or roughly the size of your fist.

Try to eat a range of different fruits and vegetables. Dried, frozen and tinned are fine, but watch out for added salt, sugar or fats.

3. Blood Pressure Diet - Keep to a healthy weight


Losing weight, if you need to, will help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of health problems. The best way to lose weight is to choose more low-fat and low-calorie foods, and increase your physical activity.

Set yourself realistic goals. Make small changes to your eating habits and activity levels that you can keep to for life.

4. Blood Pressure Diet - Drink less alcohol

If you drink too much alcohol, this will raise your blood pressure over time. The current recommended limits are 21 units of alcohol a week for men, and 14 units a week for women. A unit is roughly half a pint of beer or cider, a small glass of wine, or a single pub measure of spirits.

If you keep to the recommended alcohol limits, this should help keep your blood pressure down.

5. Blood Pressure and Exercise - Get more active

Being moderately active for 30 minutes five times a week can keep your heart healthy, and can lower your blood pressure. If you canít find 30 minutes in your day, increasing your activity by even a small amount can help.

Think about how you can be more active in your daily life. Any activity that leaves you feeling warm and slightly out of breath is ideal.