High blood pressure is one of the most common causes of high life insurance premiums. In this article we’ll show you how insurance underwriters view high blood pressure and how to keep your blood pressure under control so you can save money on your life insurance.
High Blood Pressure—a Modern Day Epidemic
High blood pressure is a common affliction in the United States and around the world. In fact about 70 million adults in the United States (or 29% of the total population) have blood pressure.
Worse—only half of those 70 million people have their high blood pressure under control.
The economic impact of the high blood pressure epidemic is substantial. High blood pressure costs the US an estimated $46 billion annually. Most of these costs are related to health care services, medications to treat high blood pressure, and missed work days. High blood pressure is a primary or contributing cause to 1,000 deaths every day.
The most shocking statistic of all: 1 in 5 adults in the US have high blood pressure and don’t know about it.
Source: NCHS and NHLBI. Hypertension is defined as SBP 140 mm Hg or DBP 90 mmHg, taking antihypertensive medication, or being told twice by a physician or other professional that one has hypertension.
High Blood Pressure and Health Risks
Blood pressure is an important indicator of your overall health and physical condition. People who have high blood pressure have a higher risk of experiencing dangerous health conditions including:
- Heart Attacks. Seventy percent of people who experience a first heart attack have high blood pressure.
- Stroke. About eighty percent of people who experience a first time stroke have high blood pressure.
- Chronic Heart Failure. About seventy percent of people with chronic heart failure also have high blood pressure.
- Kidney Disease. You’re more likely to suffer from kidney disease if you have high blood pressure.
Life Insurance Premiums & High Blood Pressure
Most doctors agree: having high blood pressure is risky business.
Insurance companies share the same point of view—if you have high blood pressure, you’re considered a higher risk than someone with a normal blood pressure reading. Now that doesn’t mean you’ll be rejected by life insurance companies, but it does mean you are likely to pay more than if you kept your blood pressure in a healthy range.
How Blood Pressure Measurements Work
As your heart beats it pumps blood through your entire body to provide your muscles with the energy and oxygen they need. Your blood pressure rises with each beat of your heart and falls when your heart relaxes between beats.
Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers written as a ratio, for example: 120/80. The top number is called systolic pressure. Systolic pressure measures the pressure in the arteries when the heat beats (or the heart muscle contracts).
The bottom number is called diastolic pressure. Diastolic pressure measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats, when the heart muscle is resting and refilling with blood.
What’s an Acceptable Blood Pressure for Insurance Companies?
If you have a history of high blood pressure life insurance underwriters will look at your most recent blood pressure measurements as well as your historical blood pressure readings.
While every insurance company is different and has different underwriting guidelines there’s a range of blood pressure you want to stick to in order to get the best possible health class rating on your life insurance policy. The below chart shows acceptable ranges of blood pressure readings.
|Blood Pressure Category
||Systolic Pressure Range
||Diastolic Pressure Range
||Less Than 120
||Less Than 80
|High Blood Pressure
Hypertension Stage 1
|High Blood Pressure
Hypertension Stage 2
|160 or Higher
||100 or Higher
||Higher Than 180
||Higher Than 110
The above table shows healthy ranges for your blood pressure. Life insurance companies will each have their own acceptable ranges as well as criteria for high blood pressure that’s kept under control by medication. If you fall into the “normal” range on the table above you won’t have any problems securing affordable life insurance.
4 Signs Warning Signs You May Have High Blood Pressure
The easiest way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to visit your doctor or a local clinic and get your blood pressure tested. Many doctors believe that high blood pressure is a symptomless condition—that symptoms only occur when a patient is experiencing extremely high blood pressure, also known as a hypertensive crisis.
If you haven’t had your blood pressure checked in some time but are experiencing any of these four warning signs of high blood pressure it’s time to take action so you can get the best life insurance rates possible (and maintain a healthy lifestyle).
- Persistent Headaches. Most doctors believe that persistent headaches could be a sign of hypertensive crises but now of high blood pressure in general. If you’re experiencing frequent headaches get to your doctor as soon as possible.
- Blurred or Double Vision. Only likely to occur during times of extremely high, life threatening blood pressure levels.
- Nosebleeds. Symptomatic nosebleeds are another controversial warning sign of high blood pressure. In this case, nosebleeds are unlikely to occur unless you are experience a hypertensive crisis.
- Shortness of Breath or Dizziness. This is your body telling you to take action now. Get to the hospital if you’re experiencing symptoms of shortness of breath or dizziness.
7 Ways to Get Your High Blood Pressure Under Control
Now the fun part. If you want to get an affordable life insurance policy but you have high blood pressure there’s still hope! If you take action now and commit to changing your lifestyle and habits you can successfully lower your blood pressure readings (without medication) and secure the life insurance policy you want and need at a great price. If you fail to lower your high blood pressure you’ll likely receive a poor health classification and a higher premium.
- Lose Weight. Losing weight is the single best way to decrease your blood pressure levels. Weight and blood pressure are usually positively correlated—that is as your body weight increases so does your blood pressure. Even if you lose only 15 pounds you’ll see a marked improvement in your blood pressure levels.
- Consistently Exercise. Daily consistent exercise is the key to a healthy and happy life—and to reduce your blood pressure levels. High intensity training will have the greatest impact on your overall cardiovascular health and fitness. Get that heart rate up and keep it up for at least 30 minutes. We like CrossFit, Yoga, or Gymnastics training for functional mobility and cardiovascular workouts.
- Improve Your Diet. Habits are the foundation of healthy eating. Get back to basics and eat a wholesome diet rich in fruits and vegetables. We suggest also keeping a food photo diary to help you track exactly what you eat day in and day out.
- Stop Drinking Alcohol. If you drink more than a few a day your blood pressure will be negatively impacted. The easiest way to lower your blood pressure a few points is to put down that bottle and limit your alcohol intake.
- Quit Smoking. Smoking instantly increases your blood pressure. Not to mention—tobacco use will increase the cost of your life insurance considerable. Quitting smoking will help you get your blood pressure under control and put you in a better position to save money on your life insurance.
- Reduce Your Stress Levels. Stress causes blood pressure to spike and puts unnecessary strain on the heart and body. Exercising and eating healthy can help you reduce your stress levels. We also find meditation or yoga (or any vigorous activity) to aid in reducing stress and decreasing blood pressure.
- Quit the Coffee. Caffeine can increase your blood pressure, stress, and anxiety levels leading to a whirlwind effect on your overall health. Of course, coffee impacts everyone differently so it’s best to test coffee’s impact on your blood pressure levels by testing your resting blood pressure, drinking a cup of coffee, waiting about an hour and testing your readings again.
If you’re preparing for a life insurance medical exam or trying to decrease your blood pressure before applying for life insurance give Big Lou® a call and we can help you save money on your life insurance.