Term Life Insurance: The (Blood) Pressure is On

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When is the last time you had your blood pressure checked? How often do you have your blood pressure checked by a doctor or nurse? If you are like many young Americans, the answer may be ‘not often enough.’ High blood pressure, aka ‘hypertension,’ is sneaking up on Americans earlier in life due to increased stress, lifestyle habits, and poor dietary choices. Hypertension has historically been viewed as an ‘old man’s’ disease. Thus many young people simply brush off the possibility of having it, even if they have had blood pressure readings that suggest otherwise.

What is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the pressure exerted by circulating blood upon the walls of blood vessels. With each heartbeat, blood pressure varies between a maximum (systolic) and a minimum (diastolic) pressure. Blood pressure readings consist of the systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number) readings. The desirable range for the systolic reading is typically considered to be less than 120, and less than 80 for the diastolic reading. Ideal blood pressure ranges can be specific to individual circumstances. Talk with your doctor to determine the best blood pressure range for you.

About 90% of hypertension cases are considered to be primary hypertension, of which no underlying cause has been identified. The risk factors for developing primary hypertension include poor dietary choices, obesity, stress, smoking, heredity, diabetes mellitus and age. Secondary hypertension accounts for the remaining 10% and is caused by an identifiable disorder such as kidney disease or hyperthyroidism.

Why does it come as such as surprise when a high blood pressure reading is discovered? It’s likely because hypertension can be asymptomatic for the first 10-20 years. Many people have no warning signs of hypertension due to the slow progression of the disease. Even if symptoms are absent, hypertension slowly but surely damages arteries and blood vessels, and puts a strain on the heart. This can lead to more serious diseases such as heart failure, renal failure, stroke, and atherosclerosis.

Hypertension and Term Life Insurance

What should you do if a high blood pressure reading is discovered when you are applying for term life insurance? The biggest mistake you can make is forgoing the policy simply because you weren’t offered the best rating class. Sure it can be a hard pill to swallow hearing you have high blood pressure, but don’t let that get in the way of protecting your loved ones. Remember, you can always replace the policy later if you can improve your condition and get a better policy in the future.

Talk with your agent. An experienced agent will be able to help you try for reconsideration of the rating class and premium if you truly believe the blood pressure readings are inaccurate. They will also be able to help you find the best life insurance company for your specific blood pressure readings.

In the meantime, follow these tips for controlling hypertension:

  • Lose Weight – Losing just ten pounds can make a big difference.
  • Exercise Regularly – At least 30 – 60 minutes each and every day.
  • Eat a Healthy Diet – Try adding these foods:  whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy.
  • Kick the Sodium – Keep your daily limit to 2,300 mg per day, lower if you are at risk for hypertension.

Sources:  Wikipedia, Mayo Clinic

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