An optimal reading at any age is 120/80 or below.
As we age, BP tends to creep up.
Readings of 121-139/81-89 fall into what they call the "prehypertension" range. If BP is in this range, it's still considered "normal" and no medication is required. However, it would be a good idea to make some lifestyle changes, such as consuming much less sodium, stop smoking, get regular exercise, lose weight if overweight (this is a biggie and goes a long way in reducing BP) eat less fat in general and more fish and chicken than red meats.
Eat more fresh fruit and veg too!
BP of 140/90 or above is considered hypertension. An occasional spike above normal is not a problem..Doctors only become concerned if it is sustained at those #s and elevated at rest most of the time.
The information zuzu presented is correct, or at least WAS correct. Apparently, another lowering of what is considered "normal" is in the making, and at what point it becomes "official" I don't know. It maybe already is. But the following news item was on WebMD back in May:
The new definition released this weekend changes this; it classifies "normal individuals" as having normal blood pressure, loosely defined as a systolic pressure of 115 and a diastolic pressure of 75 PLUS no signs of heart disease or stroke, few if any risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and no apparent damage from high blood pressure to the kidneys or other organs.
Cardiovascular risk factorsCardiovascular risk factors include age, sex, abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels, obesity as measured by body mass index (BMI), smoking, and family history of cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease or stoke.
They are doing away with the pre-hypertensive range. When I went to my doctor about ten days ago, she was already spouting the new 115/75 as the figure for normal. Since approximately one-fourth of all adults in this country were in the pre-hypertensive range, imagine how many more will now be above the "normal."
Supposedly the doctor and the patient will jointly decide at what point above "normal" medication should begin, based upon the risk factors. But I can just imagine how that is going to work. In fact, I quickly saw how that was going to work when my doctor mentioned it. A patient will have to put his/her most assertive hat on in most cases, I suspect, and a lot of people don't do that with their doctors. They just accept whatever the doctor says.
And tell me, who middle age or older doesn't have some "family history" of stroke or heart attack. My father had a stroke at age 69. Does that count? How about my grandfather and great-grandmother? They died of strokes at 91 and 97 respectively? Do those count? Everyone eventually dies of something. Older people most frequently seem to die of heart attacks and strokes.
Thank you for your answers. I've been talking to this board for many years now and I'm always glad I did. But now, because of your answers, I have another question: Isn't there such a thing as your blood pressure being TOO LOW? And isn't that dangerous too????
I agree with both of you. It's all about money. It's sad to think there are people with readings of 130/80 at the doctors office yet, that are put on medication. I have a good doctor who will not medicate unless it's consistently 140/90 or above. I truly believe that is right. They are doing the same thing with cholesterol. I remember the days when nobody said nothing unless it was 240 or over. Now 200 is to high, they want it lower than that. My mother and aunts are 75,78,82 with readings over 300 for the last 20 years. Now I would not want readings that high, but my point is they are still living. Like the above poster said, we have to die of something.
Yes, it can be to low. The main symptom would be you would get dizzy when you stand up. How low is to low? It's different with people. I have read of people with readings of 90/55 with no problems. If you experience any dizziness when standing that would be your first warning to see a doctor.