Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, is a prevalent health concern, especially among veterans. Leah Bucholz sheds light on the relationship between hypertension and PTSD in veterans disability. Veterans can be service-connected for hypertension and often there is an intricate relationship between hypertension and mental health conditions like PTSD.
Hypertension occurs when the pressure of circulating blood against the blood vessels is higher than the norm, as defined by medical professionals. The World Health Organization classifies high blood pressure based on systolic and diastolic readings. A systolic pressure exceeding 140 or a diastolic pressure over 90 is considered hypertension. Pre-hypertension, falling between 120 and 139 for systolic pressure, or 80 to 89 for diastolic pressure, also warrants attention.
Service Connection for Hypertension
Veterans can be service-connected for high blood pressure through various avenues. If diagnosed while on active duty, individuals may establish a direct service connection. However, a single high reading does not necessarily suffice; a conclusive diagnosis typically requires a series of controlled readings over several days. This cautious approach aims to rule out external factors that may influence blood pressure, such as illness or equipment malfunctions.
Secondary Service Connection
Another route to service connection involves hypertension as a secondary condition related to other health issues. Often another service connected disability may cause or aggravate hypertension. One such example is the intricate relationship between hypertension and mental health, particularly PTSD in many veterans.
Exploring the Link Between Hypertension and Mental Health
When evaluating an individuals hypertension, it can be important to consider both modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors. Non-modifiable factors, such as genetics and age, play a role, but modifiable factors like weight, smoking, diet, physical activity, alcohol consumption, and stress can at times be within an individual’s control.
PTSD and Hypertension
Mental health conditions, particularly PTSD, can contribute significantly to hypertension. There are several studies linking anxiety disorders to increased blood pressure. One such study, titled “Anxiety Disorders, Hypertension, and Cardiovascular Risk: A Review” (International Journal of Psychiatry and Medicine, 2011), highlights the role of psychological stress in raising autonomic arousal, leading to higher blood pressure.
The Impact of PTSD on Blood Pressure
Additional research, including studies like “Hypertension in Relation to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression in the U.S. National Co-morbidity Survey” (Behavioral Medicine) and “The Impact of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder on Blood Pressure and Heart Rate in a Veteran Population” (Journal of Traumatic Stress), delves into the relationship between PTSD, depression, and high blood pressure among veterans.
Considering Lifestyle Factors
Leah also addresses the impact of lifestyle choices on hypertension. If obesity, a modifiable risk factor, is connected to another service-connected condition, such as PTSD or depression, it can contribute to hypertension. The link between mental health and lifestyle choices, including diet and exercise, is crucial in understanding and establishing service connection for hypertension.
Ratings and Service Connection
Leah Bucholz briefly touches on the ratings associated with hypertension service connection. These ratings are subject to change, and veterans are advised to consult professionals like Veteran Service Officers, accredited claims agents, and attorneys for the most accurate information. However, she outlines potential ratings based on diastolic and systolic readings, emphasizing that even if medications control blood pressure within a normal range, veterans can still be service-connected.
In conclusion, the intricate relationship between hypertension and mental health, especially PTSD, is a critical consideration in the evaluation of veterans’ disability claims. Understanding the various pathways to service connection, the impact of modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors, is crucial for veterans navigating the complex landscape of disability benefits. Seeking professional advice from accredited legal professionals and staying informed about relevant research can empower veterans in their pursuit of rightful compensation and healthcare support.
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