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Blood pressure

Blood pressure
Medical diagnostics
A sphygmomanometer, a device used for measuring arterial pressure
MeSH D001795

Blood pressure (BP) is the pressure of circulating blood on the walls of blood vessels. When used without further specification, "blood pressure" usually refers to the pressure in large arteries of the systemic circulation. Blood pressure is usually expressed in terms of the systolic (maximum during one heart beat) pressure over diastolic (minimum in between two heart beats) pressure and is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg), above the surrounding atmospheric pressure (considered to be zero for convenience).

It is one of the vital signs, along with respiratory rate, heart rate, oxygen saturation, and body temperature. Normal resting blood pressure in an adult is approximately 120 mmHg systolic, and 80 mmHg diastolic, abbreviated "120/80 mmHg".

Traditionally, blood pressure was measured non-invasively using a mercury manometer and this is still generally considered the gold standard. More recently other semi-automated methods have become common, largely due to concerns about potential mercury toxicity, although cost and ease of use have also influenced this trend. Early alternatives to mercury sphygmomanometers were often inaccurate, but more modern validated devices have similar accuracy to mercury devices.

Blood pressure is influenced by cardiac output, total peripheral resistance and arterial stiffness and varies depending on situation, emotional state, activity, and relative health/disease states. In the short term it is regulated by baroreceptors which act via the brain to influence nervous and endocrine systems.

Classification of blood pressure for adults
Category systolic, mmHg diastolic, mmHg
< 90
< 60


Prehypertension (high normal)


Stage 1 hypertension
Stage 2 hypertension
Hypertensive urgency
≥ 180
≥ 110
Isolated systolic hypertension
≥ 160
< 90
Reference ranges for blood pressure in children
Stage Approximate age Systolic Diastolic
Infants 1 to 12 months 75–100 50–70
Toddlers and preschoolers 1 to 5 years 80–110 50–80
School age 6 to 12 years 85–120 50–80
Adolescents 13 to 18 years 95–140 60–90
Site Normal
pressure range
(in mmHg)
Central venous pressure 3–8
Right ventricular pressure systolic 15–30
diastolic 3–8
Pulmonary artery pressure systolic 15–30
diastolic 4–12
Pulmonary vein/

Pulmonary capillary wedge pressure

Left ventricular pressure systolic 100–140
diastolic 3-12



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