What is a Dangerous Level of High Blood Pressure?
Understanding Blood Pressure
- According to the Mayo Clinic, blood pressure is calculated by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to the blood flow in your arteries. High blood pressure is caused by your heart pumping more blood and your arteries narrowing.
- Blood pressure is written as two numbers, systolic and diastolic (i.e., 120/80 mm Hg). Systolic is the top number and measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart muscle contracts.
- Diastolic is the bottom number and measures the pressure in the arteries between each beat of the heart.
Healthy Blood Pressure Levels
- Normal blood pressure levels are considered to be 120/80 or lower, according to the American Heart Association.
Dangerous Blood Pressure Levels
- The American Heart Association classifies blood pressure into several categories after "normal." These include Prehypertension levels, which is systolic blood pressure between 120 and 139 and diastolic levels between 80 and 89; Stage 1 High Blood Pressure, which is systolic blood pressure between 140 and 159 and diastolic levels between 90 and 99; Stage 2 High Blood Pressure, which is systolic blood pressure 160 and higher and diastolic levels 100 and higher. The most dangerous blood pressure levels, referred to as "Hypertensive Crisis," needs a separate explanation because it's the most dangerous level.
- A Hypertensive Crisis occurs when blood pressure levels reach 180 or higher for the systolic number or 110 or higher for the diastolic number. If this ever happens, you should dial 911 immediately and get emergency help because this is an extremely dangerous situation that could lead to stroke, heart attack, or other life-threatening conditions.