The U.S. National Institutes
of Health publishes guidelines for doctors on high blood pressure classification and treatment. The guidelines are called the Seventh Report of the Joint National
Committee (JNC 7) on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High
If you have high blood pressure, your doctor will give you a blood pressure goal that is based on your health. For example, your goal will depend on whether you have other conditions such as diabetes, heart failure, coronary artery disease, or chronic kidney disease.
Be sure you know your blood pressure goal.
Blood pressure classification
| Blood pressure || Classification|
|140/90 or above||High|
|120/80 to 139/89||Prehypertension|
|119/79 or below||Normal|
Treatment for high blood pressure
Blood pressure of 120–139 over 80–89
High blood pressure of 140–159 over 90–99
Lifestyle changes, possibly
High blood pressure of 160 over 100 or
Medicines plus lifestyle
High blood pressure plus organ damage or
other risk factors for heart disease
Medicines plus serious lifestyle changes
and treatment for the other health problems
Secondary high blood pressure
Medicines, treatment of the condition
causing your high blood pressure, or both
African Americans are more likely to develop
high blood pressure and often have more severe high
blood pressure than other groups. They also are more likely to have the
condition at an earlier age than others. It is not known why they are at
African Americans who are sensitive to salt (sodium), who are obese, or who smoke are at even higher risk
for high blood pressure. As a result, African Americans with these risk factors tend to have more organ damage, such as kidney disease, heart
attack, and enlargement of the heart, which can lead to
heart failure (hypertensive heart disease). Lifestyle
changes are especially important for this group.
Children who have
high blood pressure often continue to have high blood
pressure as adults. Children ages 3 and older need to have their blood pressure
monitored regularly during routine physical exams.
pressure in children is rare but needs to be evaluated to find treatable
causes. When a child has high blood pressure, it is more likely to be from a
secondary cause—like a disease—than when an adult has high blood
High blood pressure in children should be treated with
lifestyle changes and medicine if needed. A child with secondary high blood
pressure also requires medicine. The risk of secondary high blood pressure is
higher in children than in adults.
Older adults often have isolated
systolic high blood pressure. This problem
is sometimes called ISH, for isolated systolic hypertension. In
ISH, systolic blood pressure is above 140, but diastolic blood pressure stays
lower than 90.