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Is 126 over 54 Blood Pressure Elevated?

126/54 blood pressure is an ‘Elevated’ blood pressure reading in the US, ‘Normal’ in the EU and ‘High Normal’ in the UK and Japan. It is not regarded as hypertension on any scale.

What does 126/54 blood pressure mean?

What 126 over 54 Blood Pressure Means:

A BP reading of 126 over 54 means it is slightly higher than an ideal reading; a systolic pressure (when the heart contracts on a beat) reading of 126 mmHg and a resting, diastolic pressure (when the heart is dilated or relaxing between beats) reading of 54 mmHg. Blood pressure numbers are presented in units of mmHg, which stands for millimetres of mercury (find out why here).

You may find your blood pressure readings written as blood pressure 126 over 54, or more simply BP 126/54

Reads Systolic Diastolic
126-over-54 126 54

Looking at your systolic and diastolic numbers independently, means they would each fall into the following categories:
  • A systolic reading of 126 is generally considered to be at the ‘elevated normal’ level.
  • A diastolic reading of 54 is generally considered to be at the ‘low’ level.

Both your systolic and diastolic readings play an important role when assessing your health. Typically, the reading that falls into a less favourable range dictates your overall blood pressure’s categorisation. In your case your overall blood pressure would be considered to be at the elevated normal level, at the upper end of the normal blood pressure range, as your systolic reading is less healthy when comparing it to your diastolic reading. Minor variations exist in the naming conventions and specific boundaries of each category between different nations. We show what these differences are in the tables presented later in this article so you know where you stand on the EU, US, UK, Japan and international scales.

You can see your blood pressure reading of 126 over 54 plotted on the chart above, noting that your overall classification for this BP reading falls into the elevated normal range.

It is important to consider that a single blood pressure reading is not definitive and it can be affected by all sorts of factors.

By taking your own blood pressure readings regularly at home, with one of the many affordable blood pressure monitors (also known as a blood pressure gauges or sphygmomanometers), you will get a more consistent average to work with, rather than the occasional reading given to you when visiting your doctor. You can then better understand if your blood pressure is ok, or whether you need to make some changes to your lifestyle to shift your blood pressure into a healthier range.

The column chart of your blood pressure above, compares the status of your systolic reading (higher blood pressure number) of 126mmHg to your diastolic reading (lower blood pressure number) of 54mmHg. From these two blood pressure numbers you can work out your blood pulse pressure.

What Is Blood Pulse Pressure and What Is Mine?

The difference in value between your systolic and diastolic readings, which are shown on the blood pressure chart above, is known as pulse pressure. Your pulse pressure is therefore 72mmHg, calculated by subtracting your diastolic reading of 54mmHg from the systolic reading of 126mmHg.

A normal pulse pressure is typically considered to be around 40mmHg. Your pulse pressure will naturally vary with different BP readings but the variation will typically be in the 5 to 10 mmHg range. Once again it is best to take several readings to determine an average.

A pulse pressure which is less than 25% of your systolic pressure is considered concerningly low and over 100%, would be considered wide. Your pulse pressure of 72mmHg as a percentage of your systolic reading of 126mmHg comes in at 57%.

Narrow pulse pressure means the heart is not pumping enough blood with each beat. This is often seen in people who have heart valve diseases or heart failure. It can also be seen in people who have lost a lot of blood from an injury.

Wide pulse pressure on the other hand, also referred to as high pulse pressure, can occur during exercise and is often seen in endurance athletes and high muscle-mass individuals without much concern. However, for less active and aging individuals experiencing hardening of the arteries, a wide pulse pressure occurs for different reasons and it can be a warning sign of increased risk of stroke, heart rhythm problems and heart disease.

If you are concerned about your pulse pressure, ask your healthcare professional for advice.

Different Countries May Interpret 126/54 Differently

Your 126/54 reading is seen as an elevated blood pressure in many countries, although the specific boundaries for each category and the naming of them can vary slightly between nations.

Revisions to these scales also occur, notably in 2017, leading U.S. health groups, including the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, set lower levels for what counts as the start of high blood pressure and removed the term prehypertension from their scale. Yet when the EU later reviewed their scale in 2018, they maintained a higher boundary for the start of hypertension. So, large segments of the US population defined as having high blood pressure would not be considered to be suffering from hypertension by the EU.

You can check several country specific and international associations’ hypertension tables further down this page.

Where Does My Blood Pressure Show On The American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association (ACC-AHA) Hypertension Chart?

The ACC/AHA hypertension scale was most recently revised in 2017 and the major change at that time was lowering the definition of the start of hypertension from ≥140/≥90 mmHg to ≥130/≥80 mmHg. It also re-classified “prehypertension” as “elevated” blood pressure (120-129/<80 mmHg).

Your blood pressure numbers are shown on the ACC/AHA blood pressure chart below:

On the chart above you can see your blood pressure reading, this time plotted on the ACC/AHA scale giving an overall status of elevated.

The column chart above again compares your systolic (higher) reading of 126 to the diastolic (lower) reading of 54 and the status they have if considered individually but this time on the ACC/AHA scale definition giving a systolic status of elevated and a diastolic status of low.

Categorisations of Blood Pressure by Region/Country

Here we present the latest revised blood pressure tables and naming terms used by the EU, US, Japan, UK and International Society of Hypertension (ISH). Some differentiate office vs home readings, office not meaning your workplace but the office of the medical staff. The reason this differentiation is made is because medical environments can be stressful and raise the readings compared to what is achieved when relaxing at home and taking your own measurements.

European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and the European Society of Hypertension (ESH) Classifications

Since 2023: source
Category Systolic (mmHg) Diastolic (mmHg)
Optimal (Ideal) <120 and <80
Normal 120–129 and/or 80–84
High normal 130–139 and/or 85–89
Grade 1 hypertension 140–159 and/or 90–99
Grade 2 hypertension 160–179 and/or 100–109
Grade 3 hypertension ≥180 and/or ≥110
Isolated systolic hypertension ≥140 and <90
Isolated diastolic hypertension <140 and ≥90

American College of Cardiology (ACC)/American Heart Association (AHA) Classifications

Since 2017: source
Category Systolic (mmHg) Diastolic (mmHg)
Normal <120 and <80
Elevated 120-129 and <80
Stage 1 130-139 or 80-89
Stage 2 ≥140 or ≥90
Hypertensive crisis >180 and/or >120

Japanese Society of Hypertension (JSH) Classifications

Since 2019: source
Classification Office blood pressure (mmHg) Home blood pressure (mmHg)
SBP DBP SBP DBP
Normal blood pressure <120 and <80 <115 and <75
High normal blood pressure 120–129 and <80 115–124 and <75
Elevated blood pressure 130–139 and/or 80–89 125–134 and/or 75–84
Grade I hypertension 140–159 and/or 90–99 135–144 and/or 85–89
Grade II hypertension 160–179 and/or 100–109 145–159 and/or 90–99
Grade III hypertension ≥180 and/or ≥110 ≥160 and/or ≥100
(Isolated) systolic hypertension ≥140 and <90 ≥135 and <85

UK National Health Service (NHS)/British Heart Foundation(BHF) Classifications

Since 2023: source
Classification Office blood pressure (mmHg) Home blood pressure (mmHg)
SBP DBP SBP DBP
Low blood pressure <90 <60 <90 <60
Normal blood pressure (Under 80s) 90–120 60–80 90–120 60–80
Normal blood pressure (Over 80s) <150 <90 <145 <85
High-normal blood pressure (pre-hypertension) 120–140 80–90 120–140 80–90
Stage one 140–160 90–100 135–150 85–95
Stage two 160–180 100–120 >150 >95
Stage three (Severe hypertension) >180 >120 N/A N/A

International Society of Hypertension (ISH) Classification

Since 2020: source
Category Systolic (mm Hg) Diastolic (mm Hg)
Normal BP <130 and <85
High-normal BP 130–139 and/or 85–89
Grade 1 hypertension 140–159 and/or 90–99
Grade 2 hypertension ≥160 and/or ≥100

What Is A Normal Blood Pressure Range?

Ideally your blood pressure should be between 90/60mmHG and 120/80mmHg to be considered within the normal blood pressure range, also known as the normotension range. The main concern however, often referred to as the “silent killer,” is high blood pressure or hypertension, which rarely has obvious symptoms. The World Health Organisation estimates 1.28 billion adults aged 30-79 have high blood pressure, with 46% of those unaware that they have it. If left untreated persistent hypertension can increase your risk of a number of serious and potentially life-threatening health conditions, such as:

    – aortic aneurysms
    – heart attacks
    – heart disease
    – heart failure
    – kidney disease
    – peripheral arterial disease
    – strokes
    – vascular dementia

Should you develop high blood pressure, reducing it even a small amount can help lower your risk of these health conditions.

If your blood pressure readings are consistently high or abnormally low, you should speak with your medical practitioner to explore the possible underlying causes and see if they think you may need blood pressure medications.

Is My ‘elevated normal’ Or ‘elevated’ Blood Pressure Reading a Cause For Concern?

Your blood pressure’s overall status would generally be considered ‘elevated normal’ or if looking at the newer ACC/AHA (American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association) scale, which was revised in 2017, simply ‘elevated’. This is a little higher than you would want but there are a number of things you can do to keep this elevated blood pressure from developing into more problematic levels of hypertension later and reduce it back towards a lower blood pressure. These would include:

Eating Healthily

Sticking to a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, nuts, and whole grains, together with low fat dairy products, will help you reduce saturated fat intake levels. It is also best to limit salt intake, as salt intake has a direct correlation with higher blood pressure. However, as with caffeine, which may also raise blood pressure after consumption by around 10 mmHg, sensitivity varies from person to person. Eating foods high in potassium helps reduce the effects of sodium on blood pressure. According to the AHA most adults should aim to limit their sodium intake to around 1.5 grams a day (a teaspoon has about 2.5g), while the World Health Organisation (WHO) deems the average actual consumption is closer to 9-12 grams per day. Opt for low sodium varieties of any processed food you buy, as processed food is typically high in salt content and accounts for 80% of the dietary salt intake in most countries according to the WHO. So remember to analyse food labels to see how your sodium intake might be adding up.

Keeping Your Weight Under Control

Increased weight is normally associated with increased blood pressure. Losing a kilogram or 2.2 pounds will generally reduce you blood pressure reading by 1mm of mercury (mmHg). Women should look to keep waist sizes under 89cm or 35 inches and men less than 89cm or 40 inches (depending on ethnic group). Carrying too much weight around the waist increases the risk of high blood pressure.

Exercising And Finding Ways To Reduce Stress

Regular physical exercise has been found to lower blood pressure, whether that is walking, jogging, swimming, weight training, or any other physical activity. Find ways to reduce the stress in your life, such as avoiding stress triggers or making alterations to the way you handle stressful situations. Meditation and setting aside time to explore your interests and hobbies can help to reduce stress. Dogs have also been found to be beneficial in reducing stress and lowering blood pressure in humans and aside from the interaction with them, they provide a great reason to exercise every day.

Quitting Smoking And Reducing Alcohol Intake

Smoking, or drinking too much alcohol can cause both short and longer term increases in blood pressure. While drinking low levels of alcohol has been shown to reduce blood pressure in some studies, exceeding moderate recommended intake levels can lead to alcohol induced hypertension – which has been shown to affect about 16% of the US population in past studies.

Key Takeaways:

  • Blood Pressure Classification: A blood pressure reading of 126/54 is considered ‘Elevated’ in the US, ‘Normal’ in the EU, and ‘High Normal’ in the UK and Japan. It is not considered as Hypertension.
  • Understanding the Readings: Generally a systolic reading of 126 is at the ‘elevated normal’ level, while a diastolic reading of 54 is at the ‘low’ level.
  • Global Variations: Different countries classify blood pressure readings differently. It’s crucial to stay updated on these classifications and understand the distinctions, especially when comparing readings across international standards. You can see the differences on the tables in this article.
  • Pulse Pressure: The difference between the systolic and diastolic readings is known as pulse pressure. For this reading, the pulse pressure is 72mmHg. As a percentage of this systolic reading of 126mmHg, the pulse pressure comes in at 57%.
  • Consistency in Monitoring: A single blood pressure reading isn’t definitive. Regular monitoring, which you can do at home, provides a more accurate picture of one’s health status.
  • Lifestyle Recommendations: To maintain or achieve a healthy blood pressure, consider dietary choices e.g. the effects of dairy, manage weight, exercise regularly, reduce stress, quit smoking, and moderate alcohol intake.

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