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There are essentially three treatment methods for blocked arteries of the type that can lead to a heart attack. The original and still widely used vessel bypass surgery, angioplasty with a stent inserted in the vessel, and for minor blockage, medication to reduce the risk of increased blockage.

A recent New England Journal of Medicine study showed that the conventional bypass surgery had a higher survival rate in multi vessel cases. While the difference isn’t huge, when it’s your heart and your life it certainly seems worthwhile to discuss the pros and cons with your cardiologist.

From a life insurance view, underwriting coronary artery disease generally focuses on four areas. Age of onset is huge. The earlier the diagnosis, the tougher it is to get good rates. A good rule of thumb is that the best rates will come with a diagnosis in your 50’s. Between 40 and 50 is still doable, but generally rated a little higher. The good news is that quite often the higher rating is offset by the younger age. Prior to age 40 and chronic instances are a tough sell. It can be done if the patient is doing all the right things.

The number of vessels is important. The more vessels that are blocked gives some indication of how pervasive the CAD is.

Other risk factors plays a key role. Probably the one combination that leaves underwriters asking “Where’s your sign?”, is someone who has been diagnosed with CAD and is still smoking. Other risk factors that don’t float with CAD are diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

Finally, the condition of your heart as measured by a stress test after you’ve completed whatever procedure you elect to have. Underwriters pay particular attention to the left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF), a measure of how strong the heart pushes blood out of the left ventricle.

Bottom line. A good independent agent can find fair rates for people post bypass or angioplasty. The general rule of thumb is that underwriters will want to see a year after the procedure and a stress test.