You just got the news that you have elevated blood pressure. You’re thinking, “Oh no, how will this affect my life insurance rates?” Well don’t worry; you may still qualify for low rates!
Continue reading to learn the nitty gritty about high blood pressure, how life insurance companies will look at your request, and treatments you can follow to get back to a healthy level.
Quick Article Guide:
1. What is High Blood Pressure?
2. What are the Different Ranges of Blood Pressure?
3. What Types of Medication are Available?
4. How Will Life Insurance Companies Look at High Blood Pressure?
5. How Can I Best Prepare for My Life Insurance Application?
6. How Much Should I Expect to Pay for My Life Insurance?
7. What Goes Up, Must Come Down
8. Will I Ever Be Eligible for Lower Rates?
9. What This All Means
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is when the force of the blood flowing through your blood vessels is consistently too high. High blood pressure is becoming much more common; almost half of American adults have it, sometimes without even knowing it. That’s why it is recommended to get your blood pressure checked regularly.
Blood pressure is defined by two measurements: systolic and diastolic pressures. Systolic indicates the blood’s pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood. Diastolic indicates the blood’s pressure when the heart is at rest between beats. Both are measured in the SI unit mm Hg. That being said, there are different categories of blood pressure:
Normal: Systolic is less than 120, and diastolic is less than 80
Elevated: Systolic is between 120-129, and diastolic is less than 80
High Blood Pressure Stage 1: Systolic is between 130-139, or diastolic is between 80-89
High Blood Pressure Stage 2: Systolic is 140 or higher, or diastolic is 90 or higher
Hypertensive Crisis: Systolic is higher than 180, and/or diastolic is higher than 120 (if you fall in this range, consult with your doctor immediately)
Thinking about taking medication to help lower your blood pressure, but not sure what options are available? We’ve got you covered. Blood pressure medications, or antihypertensives, can be prescribed to help lower your blood pressure. There are quite a few classes of antihypertensives, which include:
- Beta blockers
- ACE inhibitors
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers
- Calcium channel blockers
- Alpha blockers
- Central agonists
- Peripheral adrenergic inhibitors
Diuretics: Also known as “water pills”, this class of HBP medication increases urination, which in turn reduces sodium and fluid in the body. By doing so, this lowers blood volume, which can help lower blood pressure. Potassium levels may decrease while taking diuretics, so it is recommended to consume a potassium-rich diet alongside the medication.
While they can be used alone for mild hypertension, diuretics are often paired with other medication for more severe cases. These are not recommended for those allergic to sulfa drugs, or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Older people may also want to work closely with a doctor while taking them, as they tend to endure more side effects such as fainting and dizziness from dehydration.
Beta-Blockers: Beta-blockers, or beta-adrenergic blocking agents, take more of a straight-shooter approach by acting directly on the heart. They block the effects of epinephrine, a hormone also known as adrenaline. As a result, blood volume, heart rate and pumping force all decrease. Beta-blockers also block your kidneys from producing a hormone called angiotensin II; this decrease allows the blood vessels to widen, making it easier for blood to flow through. All these decreases in the body work to achieve one thing: lower blood pressure.
These are not recommended for those with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bradycardia (a heart rhythm problem), or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
ACE Inhibitors: Like beta-blockers, ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors block the production of the chemical angiotensin II, increasing the space in your blood vessels.
In addition to narrowing your blood vessels, angiotensin II is responsible for triggering a hormone that makes your body retain water. The more fluid there is in your body in a restricted space, the higher your blood pressure will be. So, by decreasing fluid and widening the blood vessels, ACE inhibitors work to lower the body’s blood pressure. They are not recommended for those over the age of 55, those of African Caribbean origin, or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs): These HBP medications are akin to beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors, as they also block the function of the hormone angiotensin II, thus widening the blood vessels and reducing fluid within the vessels. They also increase the release of sodium and water into the urine, which decreases blood pressure as well.
They are often taken with diuretics to obtain maximal effects, and are a good alternative for those who can’t take ACE inhibitor medicines. ARBs are also a good choice for people who have heart problems, type II diabetes, or kidney disease. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take this medication.
Calcium Channel Blockers: Also known as calcium antagonists, calcium channel blockers prevents calcium from entering the heart and blood vessel walls’ cells. This action relaxes the muscle cells in the arterial wall, widening the blood vessels and lowering blood pressure. Some medications can also slow your heart rate, further reducing blood pressure, relieving chest pain (angina) and controlling an irregular heartbeat.
They can be prescribed in short-acting and long-acting forms, depending on your case. It is cautioned to not take CCBs alongside grapefruit or grapefruit juice, as it is known to affect the normal excretion of the medicine.
Alpha Blockers: Alpha blockers work by preventing the hormone adrenaline from tightening the muscles in the blood vessel walls, which allows the vessels to remain relaxed and open, lowering blood pressure. Like calcium channel blockers, alpha blockers are also available in short-acting or long-acting forms.
This medication is not recommended for those with a history of heart failure, decreased liver or kidney function, Parkinson’s disease, or women that are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Central Agonists: Also known as central adrenergic inhibitors or central-acting agents, this class of medication stops your brain from sending signals to your nervous system to speed up your heart rate and narrow your blood vessels, in turn, decreasing your blood pressure. Since central agonists can potentially cause strong side effects, they are not used as frequently as the other classes.
Vasodilators: While not usually the first choice of medicine, vasodilators can be helpful if other first-line medications have not been successful. They open up (dilate) the blood vessels to allow more space and decrease blood pressure. Vasodilators are not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
|Class Type||Brand Name Examples|
|Diuretics||Bumex, Diuril, Hygroton, Lasix, Esidrix, Hydrodiuril, Microzide, Lozol, Mykrox, Zaroxolyn|
|Beta Blockers||Sectral, Tenormin, Zebeta, Ziac, Cartrol, Corgard, Inderal, Betapace|
|ACE Inhibitors||Quinapril, Aceon, Capoten, Lotensin, Monopril, Prinivil, Zestril, Vasotec|
|Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers||Atacand, Teveten, Avapro, Cozaar, Hyzaar, Benicar, Micardis, Diovan|
|Calcium Channel Blockers||Norvasc, Cardizem, Tiazac, Dilacor, Taztia, Cardene, Procardia, Calan, Verelan|
|Alpha Blockers||Cardura, Baratol, Minipress, Hytrin|
|Central Agonists||Catapres, Kapvav, Intuniv, Tenex|
Every company has different premiums for someone with high blood pressure. Most will have low-cost options, depending on other factors. For example, if you are taking medicine to lower your blood pressure, some companies will overlook the condition and still give you a low rate.
In fact, an applicant who is taking medicine that puts their blood pressure in the normal range is much more likely to be approved for a company’s “preferred best” rate than an applicant who is not taking medicine and has elevated blood pressure. This is because having high blood pressure for an extended period of time puts the applicant at risk for other issues, such as heart disease or a stroke. Life insurance companies are most concerned that the applicant is taking the proper precautions to keep their blood pressure under control.
Some factors that life insurance companies look at:
- How long you have had high blood pressure
- How well the condition is being controlled
- If any medications being taken to control it
- The history of your blood pressure readings (especially the last 3-5)
- If any other medical conditions are present
- If you consume/consumed tobacco
- Family history of high blood pressure, heart disease, or stroke
Getting a medical exam can be nerve-wracking, we know! Luckily, we have some tips and tricks to ensure that the exam goes smoothly. During the exam, doctors will look at things such as your height and weight, current blood pressure, blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, and the presence of certain medications for nicotine use. With that information, here are some tips to make sure you are fully prepared for your exam:
A few days before: Eat as healthy as possible. This includes drinking lots of water, eating leafy green salads, opting for lean proteins (such as grilled chicken or fish), foods high in HDL cholesterol (such as avocados, lentils, almonds) – aka the “good cholesterol” – staying away from processed foods and fast food, and limiting caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes.
24 hours before: Follow the same regimen and keep drinking lots of water, avoid strenuous exercise that raises your blood pressure, and cut out all alcohol. You want to schedule your exam in the morning if possible. This allows you to fast overnight, which is important.
The morning of your exam: You’re almost there! Make sure not to consume any caffeine or breakfast (until after the exam), do not smoke cigarettes or use any other tobacco, refrain from exercise, and have a glass of water about an hour before so your body is properly hydrated.
Other helpful tips: Visit your doctor as often as recommended, follow their advice in terms of medication and treatment, maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly, and make sure your medical records are updated frequently! These guidelines will make it much more likely for you to get the best rates possible.
The most accurate answer will come from speaking with an agent directly, since every person’s medical information and history is different. To get a quote, we have a tool right on our website that will help give you an idea of the cost. In terms of the different health classes, there are a few different categories:
Preferred Plus: This is considered to be the best category, and for those whose blood pressure is 140/85 or lower. You are deemed to be in perfect health, with no health issues or family history of cancer or other diseases. When patients are older, slightly higher numbers may be acceptable. Only about 5% of people qualify for this class.
Preferred: This is considered to be the second best category. You are in excellent health, with a few minor health issues that may be treated with medication (such as controlled cholesterol). You are within the healthy height and weight guideline requirements, and you may have a family history of cancer or other diseases.
Regular Plus: In this category, you are thought to be in better than average health, but may have minor health issues. You may be slightly over the height and weight guideline requirements, but you also have no family history of cancer or other diseases.
Regular: Even though this is the bottom of the life insurance health classes, it is actually considered to be the most common category. For this class, you identify as someone of average health and take multiple medications. You do not meet your height and weight guideline requirements, and you have a family history of cancer or other diseases.
Life Insurance Quotes for a Male Non-Smoker – $500,000, 10-Year Level Term
|Age||Preferred Plus (BP = 140/85)||Preferred (BP = 140/90)||Regular Plus (BP = 152/92)||Regular (BP = 156/94)|
*Displayed monthly quotes are from “A” rated life insurance company and they are accurate as of 12/2017
Life Insurance Quotes for a Female Non-Smoker – $500,000, 10-Year Level Term
|Age||Preferred Plus (BP = 140/85)||Preferred (BP = 146/90)||Regular Plus (BP = 152/92)||Regular (BP = 156/94)|
*Displayed monthly quotes are from “A” rated life insurance company and they are accurate as of 12/2017
In the same way that your blood pressure became elevated, you can lower it again and get to a healthy range. Unsure of how to lower it? Keep reading to learn some tips and tricks!
Maybe you’re not totally happy with your life insurance rates, even if they were the best options available with the elevation in your blood pressure. Well guess what? After 12 months, most life insurance companies have what is referred to as a “reconsideration request”, where you can apply and possibly receive lower rates if your blood pressure has stayed consistently lower. Even better news, we do most of the work for you!
Calling an Agent: The first step is to call your independent agent and explain the situation; we’ll take it from there. We will then approach the life insurance company and propose reconsideration on your behalf; let them know that you have maintained lower blood pressure (while showing documentation), as well as any additional action you have taken to live a healthy lifestyle.
Working with the Underwriter: After speaking with the life insurance company, their underwriter will review the information we provided. If they deem that you qualify for new rates, your rate class will increase, and your premiums will decrease in cost. Bada-bing, bada-boom. Done.
Applying with Other Companies: Say your current life insurance company denies your request for lower rates. It’s unfortunate, but it can happen. In that case, your independent agent will speak with other companies, and try to find you the best premium with your lower blood pressure levels.
Even if you do not qualify for lower life insurance rates, at least you tried! Keep up with the healthy lifestyle, and soon enough you’ll be eligible for lower premiums.
The good news is, even with high blood pressure, you can still qualify for coverage. While it may be a little bit more challenging, if you follow the steps listed above and speak with one of our licensed agents, we can work to get you the lowest rates possible and match you with a company that best fits your health profile. Here at Term Life Advice, we work with over 60 companies, and have collectively helped thousands of people with their life insurance needs. Give us a toll-free call today: 855-902-6494.
You can also request a free instant quote online by filling out the form below, and compare quotes from dozens of life insurance companies. Our agents do not have sales quotas, they’re just genuine people who want to help!