Thursday, June 20, 2024

The Blood Pressure Myth

Myth: A blood pressure target of 120/80 mmHg is recommended for everyone.

Truth: This is false.

Although the standard for a ‘healthy’ blood pressure measure is 120/80 mmHg, this target is not recommended for everyone, especially those who are older.

Other factors that influence the optimal blood pressure target for each individual also include gender, ethnicity, and age. The reading that you get from measuring your blood pressure is determined by the systolic blood pressure reading over the diastolic blood pressure reading.

Systolic blood pressure is the upper number of readings and represents the pressure that your blood exerts against the walls of your arteries when your heart is beating.

The diastolic blood pressure is the lower number of readings and represents the pressure that blood exerts against the walls of your arteries when your heart is not beating – the small time the heart is resting in between beats.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has determined that the standard 120/80 mmHg reading that is recommended for a healthy lifestyle may not always be applicable.

It was found that, for individuals under the age of 50, a blood pressure of less than 120/80 mmHg is recommended. For older adults between the ages of 50 and 74, the systolic blood pressure that is suggested is anything less than 130.

Finally, for those above the age of 74, their systolic blood pressure should be less than 140 mmHg.

Researchers of the study also noted that other factors, such as diagnosis of diabetes or cardiovascular disease, will influence these recommendations and that individuals should discuss their blood pressure target goals with clinicians.

Learn more about blood pressure targets here.


  1. Chobanian AV. Hypertension in 2017—What Is the Right Target? JAMA. 2017;317(6):579–580. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.0105
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