One of the challenges we face each week is finding affordable life insurance for people who have suffered a heart attack, or have undergone angioplasty or heart bypass surgery after having chest discomfort due to blocked arteries. The good news! The folks we are helping are alive and with the often hidden heart problem revealed, they have a greater chance of avoiding having a major cardiac event in the future that could end their lives. They have a new lease on life.
Heart attack survival has been on the rise for several years due primarily to advances in rapid response treatment and more aggressive treatment to open blocked arteries. The playbook has been rewritten in the past decade concerning how emergency response crews and emergency room staff react to heart attacks with more emphasis being put on rapid use of clot busting drugs and quicker intervention through angioplasty.
Another boon to survival rates has been the acknowledgment that post cardiac event exercise plays a huge role in how quickly a patient recovers and their chances of not having a recurrence.
From a life insurance perspective there are several points for optimism. First and foremost, you survived. Whether that is due to your event being a mild one or due to more advanced and aggressive treatment, the result is the same. Second, the damage your heart incurred was likely less than it would have been in the past and the amount of damage to heart muscle is a carefully viewed measure in underwriting. Third, the long term chances of not having a recurrence have improved due to recommended lifestyle changes and newer cholesterol lowering drugs so another underwriting challenge, avoiding chronic coronary artery disease (CAD), is avoided.
How long does it take to get good offers after a cardiac event? While there are exceptions, generally you will need to be one year out from the event and you will need to have completed an imaged stress test, either an echocardiogram or a thallium stress test.
Bottom line. While you will likely never see preferred plus rates again, there is every reason to believe that standard to slightly substandard rates will be available. In layman’s terms, you should be able to obtain affordable life insurance.