Absolutely! Many people go on to live long and healthy lives after heart valve replacement surgery. The success and reliability of heart valve surgery are steadily improving as is the long-term prognosis for patients. Getting life insurance after heart valve replacement does require some extra effort.
Heart valve problems can be caused by a birth defect that has become worse over time. Certain diseases can damage your heart valves and sometimes, old age can result in a faulty valve that needs to be replaced.
The American Heart Association states that heart “valve surgery is done to replace or repair heart valves that aren’t working correctly. Most valve replacements involve the aortic and mitral valves. The aortic valve separates the left ventricle (your heart’s main pumping chamber) and the aorta (the major artery that carries blood to your body from the heart). The mitral valve separates the left atrium from the left ventricle. “
Problems that can lessen heart valve function include when a heart valve doesn’t open enough or doesn’t allow enough blood to flow through, called stenosis, or when a heart valve doesn’t close properly and lets blood leak to where it should not, called incompetence, insufficiency or regurgitation. There is also a condition called prolapse which occurs when the mitral valve flaps do not close properly.
According to the American Heart Association, the “aortic valve and the mitral valve are the most commonly replaced valves. Pulmonary and tricuspid valve replacements are fairly uncommon in adults. The most common valve surgical procedure is aortic valve replacement for aortic stenosis, or narrowing of the aortic valve.” Heart valve replacement is sometimes required to correct aortic regurgitation which is when the valve allows blood to leak back through the valve.
Heart valve surgery sometimes requires a sternotomy but less invasive procedures are sometimes an option. Replacement valves can be mechanical, made from plastic, metal or cloth, or biological, made from human or animal donor tissue.
Life insurance after heart valve replacement
Your life insurance company will be interested in all these aspects of your heart valve replacement. Still, the main thing life insurance companies will be interested in is how successful your surgery was and how well are you recovering.
According to WebMD, recovery “from heart valve surgery usually involves a few days in an intensive care unit (ICU) of a hospital. Full recovery from heart valve surgery can take several months. Recovery includes healing of the surgical incision, gradually building physical endurance, and exercising.”
How long it has been since your surgery is a primary concern for life insurance companies. Because heart valve replacement recovery can be a difficult and lengthy process, many life insurance companies will require at least a year to pass before they will approve you for a fully underwritten policy. Positive results on diagnostic tests as your recovery signs of progress can serve as proof of the success of your heart valve replacement. Documentation of this progress and all of your recovery efforts can help to further convince a life insurance company that you are a good risk.
Many patients take blood thinners after heart valve replacement surgery. Those with a mechanical replacement valve made from plastic, metal or cloth will usually take blood thinners for the rest of their lives. If you have a biological valve made from human or animal tissue, blood thinners are only necessary for as little as a few weeks.
Any medication you are taking as a result of your heart problems and surgery, or for any other health condition you are experiencing, will concern life insurance companies. Medicines that may be very effective for treating one problem will sometimes create other, often serious, problems. Sometimes these ‘side effects’ can be as bad as the original problem.
If you have any other serious risk factors concerning your health, life insurance companies may be apprehensive about approving you for a policy at standard or even lower table rates. Conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and tobacco use are all of the concern on their own. Things become more serious when combined with a major heart surgery.
If you’re ever declined for life insurance, don’t assume that you can’t get quality life insurance. There are still several ways that you can get affordable life insurance protection for your loved ones. One option is to apply with a different insurance company with more lenient medical underwriting.
The other option is to purchase a guaranteed acceptance policy. As the name implies, nobody is declined for these plans, regardless of health or any pre-existing health complications. These plans are a good option for coverage, but they should only be used as a last resort for protection. They are going to be more expensive and limit you on how much that you can buy.
Getting Affordable Life Insurance Coverage after a Heart Valve Replacement
Before you apply for coverage, it’s important that you improve your health through diet and exercise. Both of these will help you lose weight, lower your blood pressure, lower your cholesterol, and much more. Losing weight can save you 50% on your life insurance coverage. Before you start any exercise program, it’s important that you talk to your doctor to discuss any safety issues.
One important way that you can save money on your life insurance protection is to cut out any tobacco that you currently use. You know that tobacco is bad for your overall health and your heart, but millions of Americans continue to use it. If you’re a smoker or you use chewing tobacco, then the insurance company is going to view you as a drastically higher risk for life insurance. Smokers are going to pay at least twice as much for their life insurance protection. As an applicant with a heart valve replacement, you’re already a high risk, but if you smoke, it could cause you to be declined for life insurance protection.
Every insurance company is different, and all of them are going to look at your heart valve replacement differently. Some insurance companies are going to make an offer while others are going to automatically decline you for coverage. It’s important that you find the perfect company for your life insurance protection. We can help you find the perfect policy at the most affordable rate.
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Frequently asked Questions
I had heart valve surgery – can I still get life insurance?
Many people go on to live long and healthy lives after heart valve replacement surgery. The success and reliability of heart valve surgery are steadily improving as is the long-term prognosis for patients. Getting life insurance after heart valve replacement does require some extra effort but in many cases and with the right agent, life insurance is available to people who have had heart valve surgery.
Will I have to have a medical exam when I apply for life insurance?
Your life insurance company will be interested in all the aspects of your heart valve replacement. Still, the main thing life insurance companies will be interested in is how successful your surgery was and how well are you recovering. A medical exam and reports from your cardiologist will typically be required.
Should I wait a while before applying for life insurance after heart surgery?
Because heart valve replacement recovery can be a difficult and lengthy process, many life insurance companies will require at least a year to pass before they will approve you for a fully underwritten policy
Will my life insurance be expensive since I've had heart surgery?
Even with a heart valve replacement, it’s still possible to get affordable and quality life insurance protection. Before the insurance company approves your application, they are going to require that you take a medical exam so the results of the exam are going to play a major role in how much you pay every month.