High blood pressure or hypertension is when the force of blood flow on the arteries is too high, and can lead to other health conditions. Uncontrolled blood pressure can be extremely dangerous, and can lead to heart attack or stroke, aneurysm, heart failure, decreased cognitive function, and metabolic syndrome, which increase an individual’s risk of getting diabetes, heart disease, or stroke. High blood pressure usually develops gradually over many years, and often individuals live with the symptoms without knowing they have high blood pressure. In contrast, secondary hypertension, high blood pressure caused by an underlying condition, usually appears suddenly. Conditions that lead to secondary hypertension include kidney problems, adrenal gland tumors and certain congenital defects in the blood vessels. Additionally, certain medications, or the use of illegal drugs can cause secondary hypertension.

Pulmonary hypertension is a type of high blood pressure that affects the arteries in the lungs and the right side of your heart. It begins when the tiny arteries in your lungs –pulmonary arteries – and capillaries become narrowed, blocked or destroyed. There is no cure for pulmonary hypertension, and it becomes progressively worse over time. Pulmonary hypertension is a serious illness and results in shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness or fainting spells, bluish color of the lips and skin, racing pulse or heart palpitations, and swelling in the ankles, legs and eventually the abdomen. A variety of complications are associated with pulmonary hypertension, including right-side heart failure, blood clots, irregular heartbeat, and bleeding in the lungs.

The symptoms described above have the ability to affect the way an individual with hypertension performs at work, or their ability to complete the essential functions of his or her position without accommodation. However, if an employee is “disabled” within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and is able to complete the essential functions of his or her position with reasonable accommodation, the employer is required to provide such accommodations. An individual is considered “disabled” under the ADA when a physical or mental impairment substantially limits one or more major life activities of the individual. Further, unlawful discrimination occurs when an employer is aware of such an impairment, or the employee is perceived to have such an impairment and an employer takes adverse employment action, such as outright dismissal, change in position which effectively results in a demotion, or change in responsibilities effectuating a demotion without a change in title, creation of a hostile work environment to encourage an employee to quit, or continually failing to promote. Similarly, employers are prohibited from inquiring about medical conditions, and use of medication during the application process.

As discussed above, persons that suffer from various types of hypertension can potentially be classified as disabled and therefore protected by the ADA. Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with an ADA designated disability, and are prohibited from taking adverse employment action based on such a disability. Persons on Long Island, in either Nassau of Suffolk counties, who suffer from suffer from hypertension and experience any form of disability discrimination in the workplace, should contact a New York disability employment attorney.

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