Hypertension VA Rating Explained
Maura Black: Hi everyone! Thank you so much for tuning in today. I’m Maura Black. I’m an attorney here at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick. Welcome to CCK’s Live Under 5:00 discussion for today.
Today, we’re discussing hypertension ratings and how to get benefits for hypertension through the VA. Hypertension means high blood pressure, which many of you probably know. Blood pressure is the pressure of blood that pushes against the walls of your arteries. Hypertension usually has no warning signs or symptoms, so many people might be unaware that they have this condition.
Hypertension is usually caused by certain lifestyle choices that might not be classified as healthy such as not getting enough regular activity and exercise or other conditions to other uncontrollable conditions like diabetes and obesity that people might suffer from.
Some people are able to lower their blood pressure and reduce their risk of high blood pressure by making certain lifestyle changes such as regular physical activity, cessation of smoking, eating a healthy diet, limiting sodium and alcohol intake, keeping a healthy weight, managing stress, etc., which is a lot to do, but others need to take medicine to manage their high blood pressure. So, it’s not always the case that lifestyle choices will be able to resolve or totally cure a high blood pressure condition if someone has it.
Hypertension is usually diagnosed by blood pressure measurements. There are two pertinent blood pressure measurement numbers to think about that doctors will use to diagnose hypertension. The first is systolic blood pressure which measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats, and the diastolic number or part of your blood pressure reading measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart rest between beats. So, it’s measuring the beat pressure and then the kind of the relaxation rest pressure. All of those numbers go into whether a person needs to be diagnosed with hypertension, and also sometimes whether they need medication to control hypertension.
For VA purposes, hypertension as a disability is defined as 90 or higher for the diastolic number and 160 or higher for systolic. So, 90 over 160 might be a term that you here at the doctor’s office or something like it based on what your blood pressure readings are. And that number is going to dictate whether VA determines or sees your blood pressure readings as a disability for compensation purposes.
So, let’s talk about ratings. VA rates hypertension the same whether service connection is established for hypertension directly, presumptively, or secondarily as due to another condition such as sleep apnea. So, no matter how you get service-connected for hypertension, VA’s rating process is going to be roughly the same.
The rating criteria that VA uses is within diagnostic code 7101 which can be found in Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations, at section 4.104. Those are the ratings where the diagnostic codes come into play for cardiovascular conditions and hypertension can be compensated with a 10, 20, 40, or 60 percent rating. All of those ratings within VA’s diagnostic code are based on blood pressure measurements essentially. So, there’s a lot of numbers in that code based on the systolic and diastolic numbers that are relevant to whether hypertension is a disability and how disabling it is, at least as far as VA views it.
So, if you’re seeking a service connection for hypertension, keep in mind that you need to have the 90 or higher diastolic number and 160 or higher systolic number for disability benefits purposes. And if you’re seeking increased ratings for hypertension, you’ll definitely want to be looking at diagnostic code 7101. And again, that’s at Section 4.104 of Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations that will give you some guidance as to how VA rates hypertension.
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