A study released this week by Astra Zeneca, makers of the cholesterol lowering drug, Crestor has turned a few heads in both the pro and the con aisle.
In a nutshell the study claims that the use of Crestor, or more generically statins, can decrease the risk of heart attack even in people who don’t have elevated cholesterol. It is their assertion that while cholesterol is a widely recognized culprit in artery clogging and heart disease, another culprit in the form of C-reactive protein should be, or should be according to them, an area of concern.
So, the question for me is, are life insurance companies unfairly weighting the underwriting against cholesterol and not against CRP? After all, according to the study half of all heart attacks happen to people whose cholesterol is in the normal to low range. So, are life insurance companies whacking people with borderline high cholesterol while rewarding low cholesterol that may be accompanied by elevated CRP? At this point, since CRP is not part of a standard blood workup on a life insurance application it seems the answer would have to be yes.
On the pro side of this finding it is being hailed as a breakthrough that could stop as many as 50,000 heart attacks annually. On the con side it is being assailed as another way to over medicate preventively. From a life insurance standpoint there is always a chance that CRP testing will become standard and we will have to deal with the ambiguity of cholesterol vs CRP. How will they decide if you are a mortality risk? Will they penalize people for not being on statins even though there isn’t any clinical reason to be taking them?
Bottom line. The good news from a life insurance underwriting standpoint is that underwriters aren’t likely to be as quick as Astra Zeneca to jump on these results as mortality significant. They’re a methodical lot when it comes to change.