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For as long as there has been life insurance and heart attacks there has been misinformation about the impact of the event on future ability to obtain the insurance.

Two of the most common myths are that 1. If you’ve had a heart attack then you are simply toast and will not be able to get life insurance and 2. There is a five year waiting period after you’ve had a heart attack before you can apply for life insurance. If this was a multiple choice test the answer would be 3. none of the above.

With heart disease testing and detection improving all the time and with post heart attack treatment doing the same, the chances of having a heart attack and the actual damage from any heart attack have greatly diminished. New testing helps detect blockage early enough that often cholesterol lowering and clot prevention drugs keep patients from having any procedures at all. If blockage has reached a point where there is potential for damage, state of the art angioplasty or bypass surgery can be performed.

If blockage is caught early enough to treat with medication there is a good chance that, given no other risk factors, rates can be as good as preferred or preferred plus soon after treatment has started and a positive stress test has shown that the treatment is working.

If there is an angioplasty or bypass surgery with no heart attack, insurance can be applied for as soon as 6 months to a year after the procedure, again, as long as there has been a stress test completed that can address the current condition of the heart and any arterial blockage. The rates that can be approved will depend on an applicant’s age. Like diabetes, age of onset is a real hang up with underwriters. Anything prior to age 50 will incur a higher rate than post 50 and prior to 40 will be rated even higher.

If there has been a heart attack followed by angioplasty or bypass surgery, the same 6 months to a year and a good stress test applies, but you can assume the rate will be higher simply because a heart attack causes heart muscle damage that is often not reversible.

Bottom line. Heart issues don’t deal a death blow in most life insurance situations. It may make it a little harder work for your agent and you, but in most cases realistically priced insurance should be available through a knowledgeable independent agent.