What Is Hypertension?

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, occurs when the long-term force of the blood against artery walls is high enough to cause health problems, such as heart disease or stroke. The amount of blood the heart pumps and the resistance to blood flow in the arteries both play a role in determining one’s blood pressure. To reflect these two influences, blood pressure measurements have two numbers:

  • Systolic pressure (the top number) measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats.
  • Diastolic pressure (the bottom number) measures the pressure in the arteries between heart beats.

A healthy blood pressure reading for the average adult is 120/80 mm Hg, but what is considered healthy for each individual can vary, which is why it is important to see a doctor regularly and have blood pressure checked at each visit. High blood pressure can occur for years without any symptoms and can cause significant damage during that time, which can increase one’s risk of heart attack or stroke. However, with proper medical management, high blood pressure can be kept under control and the health issues associated with it can be mitigated.

There are two types of high blood pressure, which are differentiated by how they develop. Primary hypertension, the most common cause of high blood pressure, has no identifiable cause, and often develops over a long period of time. On the contrary, secondary hypertension develops as the result of an underlying condition, and tends to appear suddenly and cause higher blood pressure than primary hypertension. Some of the most common conditions that cause secondary hypertension include:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Thyroid problems
  • Certain medications, such as decongestants and over the counter pain relievers
  • Chronic stress

Among veterans, obstructive sleep apnea and chronic stress are some of the most commonly claimed VA disabilities, and are also two of the most common causes of hypertension among veterans. Due to this, hypertension has become the most commonly claimed cardiovascular condition in the VA disability rating system. 

How The VA Rates Hypertension

Under 38 CFR § 4.104, the VA rates hypertension according to its severity.

Diagnostic Code 7101: Hypertensive vascular disease (hypertension and isolated systolic hypertension)

  • 60 – Diastolic pressure predominantly 130 or more
  • 40 – Diastolic pressure predominantly 120 or more
  • 20 – Diastolic pressure predominantly 110 or more, or; systolic pressure predominantly 200 or more
  • 10 – Diastolic pressure predominantly 100 or more, or; systolic pressure predominantly 160 or more, or; minimum evaluation for an individual with a history of diastolic pressure predominantly 100 or more who requires continuous medication for control

In order for the VA to evaluate this condition for determination of a schedular disability rating, the veteran’s hypertension must be confirmed by readings taken two or more times on at least three different days. For the purposes of evaluation, the term hypertension means that the diastolic blood pressure is predominantly 90 mm Hg or greater, and isolated systolic hypertension means that the systolic blood pressure is predominantly 160 mm Hg or greater with a diastolic blood pressure of less than 90 mm Hg. 

The VA evaluates hypertension that is due to aortic insufficiency or hyperthyroidism, which is usually the isolated systolic type, as part of the condition causing it rather than by a separate evaluation. Other conditions, such as hypertensive heart disease and other types of heart disease, are evaluated separately from hypertension.

Get Help With Your Hypertension VA Claim

If you are a veteran seeking assistance with your VA disability claim for hypertension, please contact our office today. Our experienced veterans disability lawyers are ready to help no matter what stage your claim is at.