Obtaining Affordable Life Insurance with Congestive Heart Failure – Congestive Heart Failure is Not Automatically Uninsurable!
Congestive heart failure (CHF), or heart failure, is a term used to describe the heart’s inability to supply the body with sufficient levels of oxygenated blood. It can develop suddenly with or without symptoms. Depending upon the underlying cause of CHF, treatment options to manage this chronic condition may include lifestyle changes, medication, pacemaker / defibrillator implantation or surgery to repair or replace damaged heart tissue or valves. Coronary artery disease (CAD) and heart attack are the most common causes of heart failure in men while high blood pressure is the most common cause in women. The probability of obtaining life insurance will be affected by the severity of the underlying condition of the heart failure and how successfully the treatment plan is managing symptoms.
What is Congestive Heart Failure?
Congestive heart failure (CHF) is almost always a chronic, long-term condition, although sudden onset is not uncommon. It is a condition that usually becomes worse over time, however, treatment can slow the disease’s progression and relieve symptoms so that individuals can lead comfortable, longer lives. Heart failure does not mean that your heart has failed, or stopped, but rather that it is failing to pump at its optimum capacity. This failure may affect the right side, the left side, or both sides of the heart. When the heart is not operating at 100 percent, the body will compensate, often so well that it masks the condition for a time. In the beginning stages, the heart will work harder by beating faster and will become enlarged. The body will begin retaining salt and water causing an increase in the amount of blood in the bloodstream and fluid will begin to accumulate in the body. This buildup of fluid is called congestion and may cause a person to feel weak or out of breath. The congestion may back up into other areas of the body, including the liver, the gastrointestinal tract and extremities (right-sided heart failure) or the lungs (left-sided heart failure). Congestive heart failure deprives the body’s organs of oxygen and nutrients, damaging them and reducing their ability to function properly.
Other related medical conditions (or medical terminology) include Mild / Moderate Congestive Heart Failure, CHF, Heart Failure / Attack, Coronary Artery Disease, CAD, and Coronary Failure. Learn more information on receiving a term life insurance quote with these medical conditions from our life insurance specialists.
What Causes CHF?
There are various medical conditions that can contribute to CHF, including:
- Hypertension (long-term, uncontrolled high blood pressure)
- Heart rhythm abnormalities
- Coronary artery disease (CAD)
- Heart muscle disease
- Heart valve abnormalities (congenital or disease based)
- Lung disease
- Heart tumor
- Dilated cardiomyopathy
The aging process itself puts people at risk factor for developing congestive heart failure. Other factors include obesity, diabetes, smoking, alcohol abuse or cocaine abuse.
Discovering Congestive Heart Failure through Symptoms and Testing
Some people with heart failure have no symptoms, but learn of the condition during a physical examination. A doctor may discover distended neck veins, an enlarged liver, swelling of the limbs (peripheral edema) or signs of fluid around the lungs (pleural effusion) or detect an irregular or a rapid heartbeat during an exam. While listening to the chest with a stethoscope, a doctor may hear lung crackles or abnormal heart sounds that signal the presence of the condition. Heart failure can alter the levels of numerous blood tests. Symptoms of heart failure include:
- Weight gain
- Swelling of the abdomen
- Loss of appetite, indigestion
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shortness of breath (with activity or after lying down)
- Difficulty sleeping
- Fatigue, weakness, faintness
- Sensation of feeling the heart beat (palpitations)
- Irregular or rapid pulse
- Decreased alertness or concentration
- Decreased urine production
- Need to urinate at night
If heart failure is suspected, the doctor may order a number of tests to discern if there is an enlargement of the heart or decreased heart function. The echocardiogram (EKG) is the best and simplest way to find out if you have heart failure, to identify what type it is, and to determine the cause of it. After a diagnosis of heart failure, doctors can also use an EKG to monitor the condition by measuring how much blood the heart is pumping to the body. This measurement is called the ejection fraction. A decreasing ejection fraction, coupled with more symptoms, means the heart failure is getting worse.
Additional tests may include:
- Cardiac catheterization to check the heart and its blood vessels (coronary arteries)
- Chest X-ray
- Chest CT scan
- Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Nuclear heart scans (Radionuclide ventriculography (RNV); Multiple gate acquisition (MUGA) scan)
Electrocardiogram (ECG) to check your heart’s electrical system
Treatment and Management of CHF
Congestive heart failure is a condition that requires close monitoring by a doctor. Follow-up appointments, at least every 3 to 6 months, to determine the underlying cause, formulate a treatment plan and test heart function should be expected. Ultrasounds of the heart, called an echocardiograms, will be done periodically to check how well the heart is pumping blood (ejection fraction) with each stroke or beat.
This condition requires an individual to monitor and play an active role in managing his or her condition. Weight should be monitored daily since weight gain can be a sign of fluid retention and an indicator that the pumping function of your heart is worsening. Salt and sodium intake should be limited. Smoking should cease immediately. A safe fitness plan recommended by your doctor, based upon the degree of heart failure, should be followed. Obesity demands sensible weight loss. Rest, after exercise, eating or other activities, should be planned into the daily routine. Medications must be taken as directed and a list of them should be carried at all times.
The regiment of prescribed CHF medications may include:
- ACE inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) to open blood vessels and decrease the heart’s work load
- Diuretics to assist the body in ridding itself of fluid and sodium
- Digitalis glycosides to increase the ability of the heart muscle to contract properly and prevent heart rhythm disturbances
People with acute chronic heart failure may require hospitalization so oxygen and intravenous medications may be administered. Unstable patients, receiving a combination of medications, may require monitoring with Swan-Ganz catheterization which utilizes a catheter, inserted into a large blood vessel in the neck or near the collarbone, to closely monitor blood volume and pressure in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary to remove excess fluid build-up through dialysis.
Circulatory assistance can be provided by implanting devices such as the intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) and the left ventricular assist device (LVAD). A number of studies have shown that heart failure symptoms can be improved with a special type of pacemaker that paces both the right and left sides of heart. This is referred to as biventricular pacing or cardiac resynchronization therapy. Some individuals will require surgical procedures such as bypass surgery or angioplasty to open clogged arteries or to repair or replace a damaged heart valve.
Documentation at the Heart of CHF Insurance Application Process
Individuals with CHF must be prepared to thoroughly document the underlying cause and severity of their condition as well as the treatment plan used to control symptoms and its success. Applicants should plan to provide copies of current stress tests or electrocardiograms with ejection fractions. The ejection fraction (EF), which measures how much blood volume is pumped effectively with each heart beat, is a critical measurement insurers consider in rating an applicant’s insurance eligibility:
- Standard rate — EF of 55 percent or higher
- Moderate rate – EF 40 – 50 percent
- Severe rating – EF lower than 40 percent
Documenting positive information for insurers such as improving EF measurements or better management of symptoms over the course of time can improve an applicant’s chances not only for insurance, but for insurance with a better rating. Newly diagnosed cases of CHF are often postponed for insurance consideration until the underlying cause has been determined; a treatment plan implemented and results of treatment documented. Insurers will want to review a full cardiovascular work-up as part of their review process.
How Can MEG Financial Help?
At MEG Financial, we have worked with many individuals across the country that have had related histories and have helped many obtain fairly priced life insurance. A number of these clients previously attempted to buy life insurance elsewhere but were either turned down or asked to pay a significantly higher rate. Our experience helping others with related problems is invaluable to you in identifying the insurance company that will treat you most fairly.
For more specific information or to obtain a custom quote, call MEG Financial today at (877) 583-3955. You may also submit this short form and an independent insurance agent will personally contact you to go over any questions or other concerns.