Obtaining Life Insurance with Cardiovascular Disease

Along with your brain, the heart is perhaps the most amazing organ in your body.  It beats about 100,000 times every 24 hours, circulating the equivalent of about 2,000 gallons of blood per day throughout your body.  It is a true workhorse, delivering that blood to a system of arteries, veins and capillaries that are more than 60,000 miles long.

But when the heart develops problems and can’t function properly, a person’s quality of life immediately diminishes.

Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term that encompasses a number of these disorders that affect the functioning or the structure of the heart.  Collectively, they are the leading cause of death in America for both men and women.

While any heart problem should be considered serious, because of the nature and advancements in treating cardiovascular disease, the good news is that life insurance is often available to people who have various cardio ailments.

Defining Cardiovascular Disease

Because there are so many different types of cardiovascular diseases, it’s impossible to easily classify what cardiovascular disease is.  However, depending on what kind of cardiovascular disease you have will determine how easily you can obtain life insurance.

The most common cause of cardiovascular disease is by atherosclerosis.  Atherosclerosis occurs when there is a buildup of fatty deposits on the linings of your arteries.  When this happens, the arteries narrow, restricting the flow of blood and causing your arteries to become thicker and stiffen.  When the artery narrows to the point that blood flow is severely restricted or is completely cut off, then a series of heart related issues will take place, most notably strokes and heart attacks.

But there are many other types of cardiovascular disease categories as well.

Heart arrhythmia is a condition in which the heart beats abnormally instead of in sinus rhythm.  It has a number of causes, including:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Drug abuse
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Stress
  • Prescribed medications and over-the-counter medication

Congenital heart defects develop before a baby is born and will start occurring when the heart develops within the first few months after conception.  Genetics, some kinds of medications, and certain medical conditions can create congenital heart defects.  In some instances, these defects can also develop in adults, who may experience structural changes in their hearts as they grow older.

Cardiomyopathy takes place when the heart enlarges or thickens.  There are different kinds of cardiomyopathy:

  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – Is generally inherited or can be caused by aging or high blood pressure. It causes the heart to become unusually thick.
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy – Is the most common form of cardiomyopathy and is believed to be caused by a reduced flow of the blood to the heart, or by drugs or toxins. It generally causes the left ventricle to become dilated over time.
  • Restrictive cardiomyopathy – Occurs when the heart becomes less elastic and more rigid. The cause is unknown but is believed to be caused by connective tissue diseases or too much iron in a person’s body.

Heart infections take place when some form of irritant, including a virus, chemicals or bacteria attack the heart.  This can result in a person being stricken with myocarditis, endocarditis or pericarditis.

Valvular heart disease affects the valves of your heart.  People can be born with valvular heart disease or can contract it through infections, rheumatic fever or various connective tissue disorders.

Expect a Thorough Review When Applying for Life Insurance

Because cardiovascular disease affects so many Americans and can have far reaching and deadly consequences, the vetting process will be considerable when you apply for life insurance.

Although cardiovascular disease can cover a broad spectrum of diseases and conditions, when a person applies for life insurance and reveals they have cardiovascular issues, there will be certain inquiries that will be common for most all policy applications.

An underwriter will want to know:

Have you had an echocardiogram (ECG) in the past year?  If you have a chronic condition, such as cardiac arrhythmia, and you have had more than one ECG, then a recent test will tell an underwriter if your condition has stabilized by comparing the readouts.  This will help them determine what level of risk you present.

How long have you had cardiovascular disease issues?  If you were diagnosed some time ago, it is easier to determine how much of a risk you present because the cause of your cardiovascular condition will already be determined and you should be well into managing your symptoms.   In cases where cardiovascular disease is treatable, early detection and following a course of treatment work well in your favor when being reviewed by a life insurance company.

Have you had any primary symptoms, such as chest pains, fainting, or other related issues in the past six months?  If this is the case, it will indicate to an underwriter that you still have an unstable heart condition and your risk factor, and related premiums will rise accordingly.

Are you taking any medications for your condition?  This can be a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, taking medications indicates that you are following the prescribed treatment regimen your doctor has asked you to follow, especially if you have been doing so for some time.  If, on the other hand, you are taking medications that have only been recently prescribed, this is another indicator that you may still be suffering from an unstable heart condition.

What risk factors do you have?  An underwriter will want to know:

  • Do you smoke?
  • Are you overweight?
  • Is there a history of heart disease in your family?
  • Do you have high cholesterol?
  • Do you have high blood pressure?
  • Do you have an active or a sedentary lifestyle?

All of these can contribute to an unstable heart condition and will be red flags for a policy underwriter.

How often do you see your doctor?  Regular visits to your cardiologist will indicate to an underwriter that you are in compliance with a treatment regimen and will be viewed in favorable terms.

What other medical conditions do you have?  If your cardiovascular condition is accompanied by other medical issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol or if you have ever suffered from a heart attack or a stroke, a life insurance company will need to know this as well.  While it won’t disqualify you from getting a policy, it could have a dramatic effect on how much of a premium you have to pay or how much the policy will be written for.

If you are turned down for a life insurance policy requiring a medical exam, you can still apply for a guaranteed premium life insurance policy that will require no medical exam, but that will be for a much smaller policy amount and have limited benefits for the first couple of years it is in effect.