Well, I guess that depends on the context of the question! I’ll break it into two parts and see if we can make some sense of it.

We’ve all had our blood pressure taken at some time and we know that there is the top number (systolic) and the bottom number (diastolic). My normal blood pressure usually looks something like 109/68.

Life insurance companies draw a fine line between acceptable and not as acceptable and not acceptable blood pressure readings. Just a sample from a life insurance underwriting guide for a pretty average  company shows that in order to get their best rate a person can’t have any blood pressure readings in the past two years higher than 136/86. For the next best rate they allow a little higher level at 146/90. The next two rate classes top out at 152/92 and 156/94. I doubt if you would find any insurance companies that would find a reading like 180/110 acceptable.

Life insurance underwriters put extra emphasis on the diastolic pressure (lower number). Note that as we progressed through the rate classes the systolic increased by 20 and the diastolic only by 8. Of course the big concern for insurance companies is what high blood pressure, or hypertension, can do to your body. It is a contributing and exacerbating factor in strokes, heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes.

So bottom line from a life insurance standpoint, the better your blood pressure is controlled, the better the rate you can expect to pay for life insurance.

Now from a medical viewpoint, your physician has the same concerns, but their eye is toward treatment and how to keep your blood pressure from causing or complicating your health. I found this chart on www.mayoclinic.com and thought it provided some useful medical insight into blood pressure and how your doctor perceives and treats it.

Top number (systolic) Bottom number (diastolic) Your category What to do*
Below 120 and Below 80 Normal blood pressure Maintain or adopt a healthy lifestyle.
140-159 or 90-99 Stage 1 hypertension Maintain or adopt a healthy lifestyle. If blood pressure goal isn’t reached in about 6 months, take one or more medications.

I found it interesting that life insurance underwriters actually offer their best rates to someone that the Mayo Clinic would consider pre-hypertensive.

So, what to do if your blood pressure has been an issue and you need life insurance? First, do your homework. Know what your average blood pressure readings are. Know what, if any, medication you are taking. Know what your highest reading was in the past two years. (You may need to call your doctor’s office for that one) Find a good independent agent who will know how to place you with the right company for the best rate based on your blood pressure history.

This post is somewhat dated. Life insurance underwriting is changing and evolving continually. For more updated information check out some of the key word links. If you have a specific question or topic you need information for do a search. If you don’t find the answers you need contact me and we’ll make sure you get the information that is important to you.