Over 40 million Americans are being treated for high blood pressure by a physician. Blood pressure is a measure of the force the heart expends as it pushes blood through the arteries and into the circulatory system. To determine blood pressure, you take two separate measurements. Systolic pressure is the measure of blood pressure while the heart is contracting. Diastolic Pressure is the measure while the heart is resting between contractions. Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). A healthy adult might have a blood pressure between 120/70 and 130/80. While there is no universal agreement on what exactly constitutes Hypertension or High Blood Pressure, most authorities consider sustained systolic pressure over 139 mmHg and/or diastolic pressure over 89 mmHg to be a health risk.
High blood pressure means that the heart muscle is working harder than normal, putting both the heart and arteries under an increased strain. When high blood pressure is left untreated, the heart has to labor progressively harder to pump enough blood and oxygen to the body’s organs and tissues. If your heart is forced to labor for an extended time, it is in danger of enlarging, weakening, or even failing completely. Arteries also suffer from elevated blood pressure becoming scarred, hardened and less elastic. The heart, brain, and kidneys are at particular risk for significant damage from hypertension. Long term, untreated high blood pressure may lead to heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, or atherosclerosis. Fortunately, hypertension is generally very responsive to a number of reasonably non-invasive treatments, and can be often be regulated through medications, along with an appropriate diet and lifestyle.
As you can imagine, Hypertension or High Blood Pressure presents an underwriting challenge to a life insurance carrier. Left to run its course, hypertension can clearly have a devastating effect on life expectancy. Well controlled hypertension, on the other hand, might not represent any real risk of increased mortality. Major carriers have differing approaches on how they treat high blood pressure and hypertension. Some carriers treat it as a risk factor regardless of how well it responds to treatment and some carriers will essentially ignore it if an insurance applicant has well controlled high blood pressure. It is important that you work with an agent who understands how various carriers will look at your condition when underwriting your policy.
Here is how a few major carriers look at Blood Pressure issues when underwriting life insurance policies: Banner Life Insurance Company treats blood pressure the same whether or not you are currently being treated. It bases your health class on your average reading over the past two years. So a single significantly out of range measurement won’t necessarily move you to a lower health class. Here are the two year averages that Banner is looking for: Preferred Plus Average readings in the past two years not greater than 136/86 Preferred Average readings in the past two years not greater than 146/90 Standard Plus Average readings in the past two years not greater than 152/92 Standard Average readings in the past two years not greater than 156/94
Genworth treats blood pressure the same whether or not you are currently being treated, but it uses “not to exceed” measurements rather than average measurements. So a single off the chart measurement in your medical files can move you down a health class or two. Here are the maximum blood pressure numbers that qualify you for various health classes at Genworth: Treated or untreated, current and past readings cannot exceed: Preferred Best 135/85 (age 0-50) 140/85 (age 51-64) Preferred 140/90 (age 0-50) 145/90 (age 51-64) Select 145/90 (age 0-50) 150/90 (age 51-64) Standard 150/90 (age 0-50) 155/90 (age 51-64)
John Hancock: (Treated and Untreated) Super Preferred: Up to 135/85; Age 18-50 Up to 140/90; Age 51-70 Preferred: Up to 140/85; Age 18-50 Up to 145/90; Age 51-70 Standard Up to 145/90; Age 18-50 Up to 150/90; Age 51-70
West Coast Life won’t even consider you for super preferred if you have had treatment for hypertension, but farther down the health class scale they are comparable to other carriers. Super Preferred No history of treatment. Current readings do not exceed 140/85 through age 60 or 150/90 above age 60. Preferred Current readings do not exceed 140/90 through age 60 or 150/90 above age 60. Treated blood pressure must have been controlled for one year with favorable APS readings throughout the year.
Prudential Financial is harsher on blood pressure issues for younger applicants. To get to super preferred you need to be under 130/80 without medication or treatment if you are under 50 years old. Preferred Best: Up to 130/80 for ages up to 49; Up to 135/85 for ages 50 and over; Without medication Blood Pressure: Up to 135/85 for ages up to 49; Up to 140/90 for ages 50 and over; With or without medication
Lincoln Benefit Life runs different scales for treated vs untreated blood pressure issues, and even has stricter requirements for large policies above 5 million dollars in coverage. Preferred Elite Without Treatment: 145/85 for ages 0-60; 150/90 for ages 61+ With Treatment: 130/75 for ages 18-60; 140/85 for ages 61+; control documented by minimum 3 readings in past 2 years; compliant with treatment, no problems with medications and no more than 2 medications needed for control; and no history of high cholesterol. Preferred 140/90 for ages 0-60 (treatment allowed); 150/90 for ages 61-69 (treatment allowed); 155/90 for ages 70+ (treatment allowed) Standard Select 145/90 for ages 0-60 (treatment allowed); 155/95 for ages 61+ (treatment allowed) Standard No Tobacco 155/95 for ages 0-60 (treatment allowed); 160/95 for ages 61+ (treatment allowed)