According to the American Heart Association, about 2.2 million Americans have atrial fibrillation, a form of arrhythmia to some degree. It seems like this year about half of them have inquired about life insurance through our office. Like most health issues, life insurance underwriters want to know if someone with atrial fib has the condition well controlled, is compliant with their cardiologist’s recommendations, and cares enough to educate themselves about their situation.
I can tell you that the last thing, education, does not seem to be a high priority amongst those atrial fibbers I’ve talked to. There are those that truly understand what atrial fibrillation is and what the cost of not controlling it is. They are the minority.
So what is it that concerns life insurance underwriters about atrial fibrillation? What’s the big deal with a bit of irregular heart beat?
First, what is it? The AHA defines atrial fibrillation as “the heart’s two small upper chambers (the atria) quiver instead of beating effectively.” Probably just about all of us have felt a skipped beat or an irregular beat occasionally. It’s really quite common, especially with us more aged types.
The rare, occasional beat isn’t that big a deal, but when your heart is in atrial fibrillation, blood isn’t being pumped out of the heart efficiently. When this happens over too long a period, blood can actually pool and clot. If a clot is pumped out of your heart there is a good chance of it coming to a screeching halt at a narrow point in it’s journey through your brain, and, if you’re lucky, you wake up with someone trying to explain through the fog that you’ve had a stroke.
Atrial fib can be controlled, treated and in some cases actually cured. There are medicines that can moderate and control the heart beat to an extent that prevents it, in some cases, from going into arrhythmia. In more stubborn cases, the are a little more invasive ways of disrupting the electrical impulses that cause the normal rhythm to lose control. Radio frequency ablation and surgery can actually do away with the cause of the problem in some cases. And we’ve all heard of pacemakers. Not as common these days, but still used.
So back to the worried underwriter! His concerns go way beyond the quiver. Uncontrolled or poorly controlled atrial fibrillation can lead to a stroke or heart attack, issues that have a definite place on the mortality charts.
So, who gets the best life insurance rates with atrial fib? A client who is educated enough about their condition to be concerned enough to keep it under control by being compliant with their cardiologist’s recommendations. Can good life insurance rates be had after a diagnosis of atrial fibrillation? Absolutely. Get a good independent agent on your side and take care of your end of the business and the reward is good rates.
This post is somewhat dated. Life insurance underwriting is changing and evolving continually. For more updated information check out some of the key word links. If you have a specific question or topic you need information for do a search. If you don’t find the answers you need contact me and we’ll make sure you get the information that is important to you.