High Blood Pressure
Obtaining Term Life Insurance with High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a common condition affecting one in three adults in the United States. The term blood pressure refers to the force created by blood when it pushes against the artery walls while the heart is busy pumping blood. When this pressure remains high over for an extended time, it increases a person’s risk of coronary heart disease, heart failure, kidney failure, and stroke. Because of this, people with a diagnosed case of high blood pressure may have a difficult time qualifying for life insurance coverage. However, the likelihood of approval is increased when those with this condition research their options and know what to expect during the application process.
Acceptable Blood Pressure Ranges
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, doctors classify blood pressure according to the following chart:
- Normal: 120/90 or less
- Pre-hypertension: 121-139/80-89
- High, Stage I: 140-159/90-99
- High, Stage II: 160/100 or more
The top number is systolic blood pressure and the bottom number is diastolic blood pressure. While doctors and life insurance companies recognize that these numbers can fluctuate, they are most concerned with an ongoing pattern of high blood pressure readings.
How High Blood Pressure Can Affect Life Insurance Premiums
For underwriting purposes, life insurance companies typically assign a regular rating to people with a 150/90 blood pressure reading that is controlled by medication. Those with a rating higher than that fall into the substandard category, which means their application may get declined or they are approved contingent on paying a much higher premium. Preferred is 140/90 with medication or 150/90 without it. If an applicant’s blood pressure is 140/90 or better without medication, he or she has normal blood pressure and may be eligible for the best rates.
Underwriting Criteria for Those with High Blood Pressure
When a person with high blood pressure applies for life insurance, it is the underwriter’s job to assess how much of a risk he or she poses to the company. Therefore, applicants should expect to answer questions such as:
- Age when he or she was diagnosed with high blood pressure.
- Whether there are existing heart problems.
- Names of medications and dosages the applicant takes for high blood pressure as well as how long he or she has taken them.
- Whether the applicant smokes or chews any form of tobacco.
- What steps the applicant has taken to improve his or her high blood pressure.
- Whether the applicant feels his or her blood pressure medication is effective.
Does Taking Blood Pressure Medication Affect Life Insurance Ratings?
The short answer to this question is yes, although it is probably not in the way that applicants would assume. Life insurance underwriters are looking for a responsible pattern of behavior, including applicants who follow their doctor’s instructions to take medication for high blood pressure. In some cases, people can reduce their blood pressure reading to normal levels after being on medication for several months. Even so, they should not stop taking their blood pressure medication unless their doctor advises this. Some life insurance companies are willing to approve an applicant at a lower premium who has well-controlled high blood pressure due to taking medication.
The Medical Examination & High Blood Pressure
Most life insurance companies require a general physical, regardless of health conditions reported by the applicant. When he or she has a confirmed case of high blood pressure, the medical examiner will want to get a current reading. The underwriter will then compare this to the last three blood pressure readings in the patient’s medical chart. An applicant for life insurance who has high blood pressure can do several things to ensure that he or she has a good reading on the day of the medical exam. These include:
- Trying to schedule the exam for first thing in the morning and fasting from all food until it is completed. This is because consuming certain foods can have a dramatic effect on a person’s blood pressure reading.
- Drinking approximately 20 ounces of water in the hour before the exam to dilate blood vessels. This has been proven to produce a more favorable result.
- Avoiding caffeine, energy drinks, and tobacco since these can cause a huge spike in blood pressure.
The underwriter is prepared to make a decision once he or she receives the results of the applicant’s medical exam. It’s a good idea to provide as much detail as possible on the application to avoid unnecessary delays or a preventable denial.
Tips to Reduce High Blood Pressure for Lower Life Insurance Premiums
When it comes to serious health conditions, people have more control over high blood pressure than many other things. For many patients, receiving a diagnosis of high blood pressure is a wake-up call to take better care of their health. While genetic pre-disposition, age, and gender cannot be changed, life insurance applicants may be able to improve their chances of approval by completing the following actions:
- Certain foods and food additives and ingredients, such as caffeine, salt, and excess fat, contribute to high blood pressure. By committing to consuming less of these items and more fresh fruits and vegetables, people with high blood pressure can permanently lower their numbers.
- Smoking, drinking too much alcohol, overindulging in food, and other poor lifestyle choices all contribute to high blood pressure. People who engage in these bad habits should commit to gradually giving them up with the goal of being free of them entirely.
- Those who are overweight can lower their blood pressure by losing just a few pounds. For the obese, losing the excess weight can drop their blood pressure to the normal range.
- A sedentary lifestyle is a big risk factor for developing high blood pressure. Moderate exercise, even just walking more than normal, helps to reduce the risk.
- People who are under chronic stress should evaluate their lives carefully to see where some of the sources of stress can be eliminated.