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Can High Blood Pressure Be Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?

High blood pressure (officials known as hypertension) is an extraordinarily common condition that affects millions of American workers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly half of Americans (roughly 116 million people) suffer from high blood pressure, but only about one in four of those has their condition under control. Stress, including work-related stress, is a well-known contributor to high blood pressure, but establishing high blood pressure as a work-related condition for workers’ compensation can be tricky. If you’re planning on filing a workers’ compensation claim for work-related high blood pressure, you should consider speaking to an attorney who can evaluate your claim.

Causes and Risks of High Blood Pressure 

The American Heart Association defines high blood pressure as any blood pressure at or above 130/80 mmHg. There are two types of high blood pressure: “primary hypertension,” which has no identifiable cause and develops slowly over the course of many years, and “secondary hypertension,” which can be traced to a certain medical condition or medication and tends to appear suddenly. It is not always easy to identify a precise cause for high blood pressure, but the risk factors include: 

  • Being under the age of 64 (for men) or over the age of 65 (for women)
  • Being of African heritage
  • Having a family history of high blood pressure
  • Being overweight or obese 
  • Not maintaining an active lifestyle
  • Using tobacco products
  • Eating too much salt
  • Not eating enough potassium
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Certain medical conditions, including sleep apnea, kidney disease, adrenal gland tumors, and thyroid problems
  • Certain substances, including birth control medication, decongestants, and illicit drugs  

High blood pressure is generally manageable with a healthy diet and exercise. However, if left untreated, excessive pressure on artery walls can damage the body’s organs. Some of the main complications associated with high blood pressure include: 

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Aneurysm 
  • Heart failure
  • Weakened blood vessels in the kidneys
  • Thickened, torn, or narrowed blood vessels in the eyes
  • Various metabolic syndromes
  • Dementia and trouble with memory or understanding 

Most individuals with high blood pressure suffer no symptoms, even when their blood pressure is extraordinarily high.  

Work Stress-Induced High Blood Pressure 

Stress is one of the most common causes of high blood pressure. It is not known exactly how the connection works, but it is thought to involve the surge of hormones the body produces when confronted with a stressful situation. Long-term stress — such as that associated with particularly stressful occupations — can lead to chronic high blood pressure and one or more of its known complications. Poor sleep habits, including those suffered as a result of a demanding job, can also increase stress and blood pressure. While “stress” is a relative term, some of the occupations most commonly described as stressful include: 

  • Military personnel
  • Firefighters 
  • Airline pilots
  • Police officers
  • Broadcasters
  • Event coordinators
  • News reporters
  • Public relations managers
  • Senior corporate executives
  • Taxi drivers

If you work in one of these industries or any other and suspect that you have developed work-related high blood pressure, you should consider contacting an attorney who can help you evaluate your options.

Establishing High Blood Pressure as a Work-Related Condition 

The general connection between work-related stress, poor sleep, hypertension, and heart disease has been studied extensively. In 2019, German researchers published the results of a study that examined 2,000 workers with high blood pressure over the course of 18 years. It found that those who reported having a stressful job and poor sleep were three times more likely to die from heart disease than those who had less stressful jobs and better sleep patterns.  

But qualifying for workers’ compensation benefits for high blood pressure requires much more than a general connection between a stressful job and high blood pressure. One way to do this is to produce documentation showing that unreasonably stressful workplace conditions contributed to the claimants’ hypertension, which, in turn, led to an adverse health event (such as a heart attack or stroke). In other cases, a claimant may be able to show that his or her high blood pressure arose as a complication of another workplace injury. Proving these connections can be difficult and may involve one or more hearings and appeals

Contact an Attorney for More Information about High Blood Pressure and Workers’ Compensation

Claiming workers’ compensation benefits for high blood pressure is difficult, but not necessarily impossible. The best way to boost your chances is to work with an attorney who has experience handling these types of claims. To get started, please contact an attorney at Turley, Redmond & Rosasco by using our online form or by calling us at 877-693-2529 (New York City), 516-745-5666 (Garden City), 631-582-3700 (Ronkonkoma), or 631-399-0400 (Shirley/Riverhead).

 

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