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Last updated on February 11, 2021

VA Rating for Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) Explained – The Ultimate Guide

January 27, 2021

In this post, we will be taking a deep dive into the legal and medical requirements for how to get a VA Rating for Hypertension.

Think of this as the ultimate guide to getting service connected for hypertension (high blood pressure) even if you’ve been denied previously.

In 2021, a veteran’s disability for hypertension can be rated at 10%, 20%, 40%, or 60% depending on the severity of your symptoms.

In general, the more severe your symptoms, the higher the VA rating you’ll receive for high blood pressure.  

So, let’s take a minute to explore the law regarding the symptoms and impairment required to warrant a VA rating for hypertension.

Hypertension is no joke, and is often referred to as a silent killer because it is the most common risk factor among veterans with stroke.

High Blood Pressure is a Silent Killer
High Blood Pressure is a Silent Killer

According to VA medical research, hypertension is one of the most common chronic condition in veterans, affecting more than 37% of the veteran population.

Considerable medical evidence has shown that reducing your blood pressure can contribute to a significant reduction in risk for stroke among veterans.

There are a variety of hypertension secondary disability conditions as well, to include Hypertension secondary to Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), Hypertension secondary to Kidney Disease, Hypertension secondary to Thyroid, and Hypertension secondary to side effects of certain medications.

What is Hypertension in Veterans?

According to the Mayo Clinic, hypertension is a common condition in veterans whereby the long-term force of the high blood pressure against your artery walls can cause a variety of health problems, such as heart disease or stroke.

Generally, blood pressure is determined in two ways: (1) The amount of blood your heart pumps and (2) The amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries.

The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.

A blood pressure reading is given in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and it has two numbers.

These two numbers will affect your final VA disability rating for hypertension:

  • Top Number (Systolic Pressure) – The first, or upper, number measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats.
  • Bottom Number (Diastolic Pressure) – The second, or lower, number measures the pressure in your arteries between beats.
High Blood Pressure in Veterans
High Blood Pressure in Veterans

Common Symptoms of Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) in Veterans

High blood pressure (hypertension) symptoms vary from veteran to veteran.

If you have any of these symptoms, see a doctor immediately!

You could be having a hypertensive crisis that could lead to a heart attack or stroke.

You may also have another serious health condition that requires medical attention.

Symptoms of Severe Hypertension in Veterans

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure in Veterans
Symptoms of High Blood Pressure in Veterans

If your blood pressure is extremely high, there may be certain symptoms to look out for, including:

  • Severe headaches
  • Nosebleed
  • Fatigue or confusion
  • Vision problems
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Blood in the urine
  • Pounding in your chest, neck, or ears

Other Possible Symptoms of Hypertension in Veterans

  • Dizziness
  • Nervousness
  • Sweating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Facial flushing
  • Blood spots in eyes

Is Hypertension a VA Disability?

Yes, hypertension is a VA disability and can be rated at 10%, 20%, 40%, or 60% depending upon the frequency, severity, and duration of your symptoms.

Hypertension or “High Blood Pressure” is rated under CFR 38, Part 4, VA Schedule of Ratings, Diseases of the Arteries and Veins, Diagnostic Code 7101.

VA Rating for Hypertension: Basic Eligibility Criteria

In order to be eligible for a VA rating for hypertension, a veteran must meet three (3) criteria by law:

  • #1. Medical diagnosis of Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) in a medical record (Service Treatment Records, VA medical records, or private medical records)
  • #2. Your Hypertension was caused or made worse by your active-duty military service (“Nexus” for service connection) OR by another service-connected disability for secondary service connection
  • #3. Persistent and recurring symptoms of Hypertension (“Severity of Symptoms”)

If you think you have hypertension, but don’t have a medical diagnosis, pick-up the phone and call the VA mental health facility nearest you to make an appointment right away!

If you’re trying to increase your VA rating for hypertension, you need to prove to the VA that your symptoms are now worse and warrant a higher rating by law.

The #1 best way to increase your VA rating for high blood pressure is to have medical evidence showing the worsening of your symptoms over time.

Can I Get a VA Rating for Hypertension (High Blood Presure)?

VA Rating for High Blood Pressure
VA Rating for High Blood Pressure

Yes, you can get a VA rating for high blood pressure, more commonly known as “hypertension” in the medical community.

According to CFR 38 Part 4 the Schedule for Rating Disabilities, veterans may receive a VA disability rating for hypertension between 10% and 60%, with breaks at 20% and 40%, depending upon the severity of symptoms:

  • 10% VA rating for hypertension: If your diastolic pressure is 100 to 109, or your systolic pressure is 160 to 199.
  • 20% rating for hypertension: If your diastolic pressure is 110 to 119, or your systolic pressure is 200 or higher.
  • 40% VA disability rating for hypertension: If your diastolic pressure is 120 to 129.
  • 60% VA rating for hypertension is warranted if your diastolic pressure measures 130 or higher.

Detailed VA Disability Rating Criteria for Hypertension

DC 7101, VA Rating for Hypertension:VA Rating (%)
Diastolic pressure predominantly 130 or more60%
Diastolic pressure predominantly 120 or more40%
Diastolic pressure predominantly 110 or more, or; systolic pressure predominantly 200 or more20%
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 control10%
Note (1): Hypertension or isolated systolic hypertension must be confirmed by readings taken two or more times on at least three different days. For purposes of this section, the term hypertension means that the diastolic blood pressure is predominantly 90mm. or greater, and isolated systolic hypertension means that the systolic blood pressure is predominantly 160mm. or greater with a diastolic blood pressure of less than 90mm.
Note (2): Evaluate hypertension 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.
Note (3): Evaluate hypertension separately from hypertensive heart disease and other types of heart disease.
VA Rating for High Blood Pressure Chart

Hypertension Secondary to Sleep Apnea

Hypertension Secondary to PTSD
Image Credit: Curious, The Association of Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Hypertension

By law, service connection may be established on a secondary basis for a disability which is proximately due to or the result of service-connected disease or injury. See 38 CFR § 3.310(a).  

Establishing service connection on a secondary basis requires evidence sufficient to show (1) Medical diagnosis of Hypertension and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (2) that the Hypertension was either (a) proximately caused by or (b) proximately aggravated by a service-connected disability. Allen v. Brown, 7 Vet. App. 439, 448 (1995).

When there is an approximate balance of positive and negative evidence (50/50) regarding any issue material to the determination of a matter, the Secretary shall give the benefit of the doubt to the claimant.  38 USCA § 5107; 38 CFR § 3.102; see also Gilbert v. Derwinski, 1 Vet. App. 49, 53 (1990).

To service connect Hypertension secondary to Sleep Apnea, you’ll need to get a Medical Nexus Letter to support the connection between Hypertension and Sleep Apnea.

The American Heart Association (AHA) has said that as many as 50% of all patients with sleep apnea may have underlying hypertension, and many patients with hypertension, particularly resistant hypertension, may also have OSA.

According to medical research, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a recognized cause of hypertension (high blood pressure).

Apneic episodes (when you stop breathing) from Sleep Apnea produce surges in systolic and diastolic pressure that keep mean blood pressure levels elevated at night.

In addition, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recently released new guidelines that describe Obstructive Sleep Apnea as a “relatively fixed” cardiovascular disease risk factor in patients with hypertension.

It lists Obstructive Sleep Apnea as a CAUSE of secondary hypertension, with resistant hypertension being one of the clinical indications.

Here’s a recent BVA case decision where a veteran got service connected for Hypertension secondary to Sleep Apnea.

️ Wondering how to service connect your Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)?

Need a Medical Nexus Letter for Hypertension secondary to Sleep Apnea?

Join VA Claims Insider, get instant access to the Elite Experience Portal Plus (EEP+) and $13,119 worth of proprietary VA claim resources and start FREE today:

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About The Author

Brian Reese Air Force Veteran
Brian Reese Air Force Veteran

Brian Reese is VA disability expert, former Air Force captain, and founder of VA Claims Insider – “The Most Trusted Name in Education-Based Resources for Veterans.”

His frustration with the 8-step VA disability claims process led him to create “VA Claims Insider,” which provides U.S. military veterans with tips, strategies, and lessons learned for successfully submitting or re-submitting a winning VA disability compensation claim.

Brian is also the CEO of Military Disability Made Easy, which is the world’s largest free searchable database for all things related to DoD disability and VA disability claims and has served more than 4,600,000 military members and veterans since its founding in 2013.

His eBook, the “9 Secrets Strategies for Winning Your VA Disability Claim” has been downloaded more than 300,000 times in the past three years and is the #1 rated free VA disability claims guide for veterans.

He is a former active duty Air Force officer with extensive experience leading hundreds of individuals and multi-functional teams in challenging international environments, including a combat tour to Afghanistan in 2011 supporting Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

Brian is a Distinguished Graduate of Management from the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO and he holds an MBA from Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business, Stillwater, OK, where he was a National Honor Scholar (Top 1% of Graduate School class).

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