Which of these is the correct usage?

Blood pressure was elevated to X.


Blood pressure elevated to X.

3 Answers 3


I work in the medical field, and from my experience, I think that the vast majority of clinicians would say that a patient's blood pressure "is/was elevated," meaning that a measurement of blood pressure was taken and the result was higher than normal (elevated from what's considered normal).

To understand the difference between the two options you were considering, it's important to realize that the verb "elevate" can be transitive or intransitive.


Transitive: Exercise elevates most people's blood pressure. (elevates = raises)

Intransitive: Most people's blood pressure elevates during exercise. (elevates = rises)

It may be easier to see the difference when replacing "elevates" with "raises"/"rises," since the transitive and intransitive forms of raise/rise look and sound different.

When someone says "the patient's blood pressure is elevated," "elevated" is functioning as the past participle of the transitive verb "to elevate." In other words, there was something that elevated (raised) the blood pressure, so now it can be described as "elevated."

As for the other option you mentioned, it is not grammatically incorrect, but it has a different meaning. If one were to say "The patient's blood pressure elevated to 160/90," "elevated" would be acting as an intransitive verb -- in other words, the blood pressure rose to 160/90. ["rose" = past tense active voice of the intransitive verb "to rise."] If someone said "the blood pressure rose/elevated to 160/90," that would imply to me that multiple measurements of blood pressure were taken over time, and the pressure was noted to be increasing from its previous level to the current level. In contrast, saying "the blood pressure was elevated" does not imply change over time, but merely one measurement that was considered high (compared to a general standard, often 120/80, or perhaps compared to previous measurements for this patient which are being used as "normal" for him/her).

As a side note, it can be correct to say "is elevated" or "was elevated," but the meanings differ slightly. "Is elevated" indicates that the blood pressure was taken (measured) at that very moment or such a short time ago that it can be assumed to be at the same level right now. "Was elevated" suggests that the measurement was taken some time in the past (whether a few minutes ago, or a long time ago). For a measurement taken very recently (within a couple minutes), "is" or "was" are often used interchangeably.


Speaking about a blood pressure that was high in the past:

  • "His blood pressure was elevated because of pain, so his nurse gave him an extra dose of medicine."

  • "His blood pressure was elevated to a maximum of 190/120 over the past 2 days."

  • "She had an elevated blood pressure during transport."

Describing a blood pressure that was increasing:

  • "Her average systolic blood pressure increased from 120 to 140 over the course of my shift."

I work in health care, and the sentence "The blood pressure elevated to ..." sounds strange. The verbs to increase or to rise sound much better to my ears.

The specific example of using the word "elevated" as an adjective seems normal, but to use elevate as a verb seems awkward.

Sounds fine: Her blood pressure was elevated to 180/95.

Sounds wrong/awkward: His blood pressure elevated to 180/95.

Also good:

  • The blood pressure increased.
  • The blood pressure rose.
  • His blood pressure rose to 180/95.
  • His systolic blood pressure rose by 20 points.
  • The blood pressure is going up.

However, saying there was something that caused an increase in blood pressure using the verb to elevate sounds normal.

Completely normal usage:

  • "The medication elevated her blood pressure, so the nephrology team recommended switching to a different anti-epileptic agent if possible to avoid starting additional anti-hypertensive drugs."

  • "Vigorous activity tends to elevate blood pressure, so we recommend sitting calmly for at least 15 minutes before having your blood pressure measured to avoid spuriously high measurements."


You don't need the Passive Voice here as the verb is intransitive:

: to become elevated 


his voice elevated to a shout

(Merriam-Webster's Dictionary )

So the correct sentence is:

"The blood pressure elevated to ..."

  • "The blood pressure elevated to" is very unusual and practically nonexistent usage .
    – Jan
    May 11, 2019 at 11:15

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