Is High Blood Pressure a Disability Covered by the ADA?

The answer is yes, according to the ruling of a federal appeals court in the case, Gogos v. AMS Mech. Sys., Inc., 737 F.3d 1170, 1173 (7th Cir. 2013). 

In this case, the plaintiff had a blood pressure spike that created a short-terms problem that quickly passed. The court mainly decided what the transitory nature of the spike meant in terms of whether the high blood pressure was a condition constituting a disability under the ADA with the following analysis:

Gogos's episode of a blood-pressure spike and vision loss are covered disabilities. He attributes both problems to his longstanding blood-pressure condition, and the ADA's implementing regulation lists hypertension as an example of an “impairment[ ] that may be episodic.” Under the 2008 amendments, “[t]he fact that the periods during which an episodic impairment is active and substantially limits a major life activity may be brief or occur infrequently is no longer relevant to determining whether the impairment substantially limits a major life activity.” 29 C.F.R. Pt. 1630, App. at Section 1630.2(j)(1)(vii). Instead, the relevant issue is whether, despite their short duration in this case, Gogos's higher-than-usual blood pressure and vision loss substantially impaired a major life activity when they occurred. See id. Construing the complaint generously and drawing reasonable inferences in Gogos's favor, we conclude that they did. Gogos alleges that his episode of “very high” blood pressure and intermittent blindness substantially impaired two major life activities: his circulatory function and eyesight. 42 U.S.C. § 12102(2). Accordingly, he has alleged a covered disability.

Lexington, Kentucky ADA lawyer Robert Abell represents individuals and employees in disability discrimination cases under the ADA; contact him at 859-254-7076.