Are you or someone you love part of the 102 million Americans whose cholesterol levels are too high?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that’s how many people are over the 200 total cholesterol mark. Of those people, 35 million have levels over 240, which puts them at high risk to develop heart disease like arteriosclerosis.
Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans – one in every four deaths are attributed to some form of heart disease. This is not only a cause for concern when thinking about your health, but also how your family would survive if you were to have a sudden heart attack.
Once you’ve been diagnosed with high lipids, it puts your chances are getting affordable life insurance in jeopardy. When you apply for life insurance, underwriters look for anything that might cause you to be at greater risk of dying prematurely. If they see high lipid ratios, they know that this is an indicator of heart health issues, which could affect your chances of getting approved.
Are you looking for life insurance and concerned about what this means for your chances of getting an affordable policy?
Let’s take a look at what those numbers really mean, what you can do to prevent your lipid levels from reaching above normal, and how to get the best rate for life insurance.
What Are Lipid Levels?
Lipids are found in your blood and tissue and have a waxy, fatty texture. When you hear someone referring to lipids in the body, they are most often referring to cholesterol levels.
While a small number of lipids are needed for your body to perform correctly, too many can be cause for concern.
High lipids in the blood can cause buildup in your arteries, and over time that buildup can accumulate and increase your risk for heart disease and other heart issues.
When it comes to getting approved for a life insurance policy, heart issues or factors that can increase your risk are a red flag. Having high blood protein levels can cause the underwriter reviewing your life insurance application to increase your rate, or worse, deny you coverage.
What are Normal Lipid Levels?
According to the National Kidney Foundation, these are levels you should work towards to be considered “normal” and reduce your risk of heart disease:
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol – this is your “good” cholesterol and your levels should be 40 or higher
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol – this is your “bad” cholesterol and you want levels below 100
- Triglycerides – stored in your fat cells to be used for energy later. These levels should be lower than 150
- Total cholesterol – Add your HDL and LDL together, plus 20% of your triglycerides to get your total cholesterol. This number should be lower than 200
How Can I Get My Lipid Levels Checked?
In order to get your levels checked to see if you are at higher risk for heart disease, you will need to make an appointment with your doctor.
They will order a blood test called a complete lipid profile which will check all your lipid proteins in your body. It will include all four of the factors we listed above. Once completed, the test results will be sent back to your doctor to be reviewed.
Once you get your results from your doctor, they will determine if you are in the normal range or not.
What If My Levels Are High?
If your doctor determines that your levels are outside the normal range, they will give you a course of action depending on your numbers.
If your LDL cholesterol or triglycerides are too high, you have options to lower them:
- Eat lower fat foods
- Lose weight
- Exercise more
- Quit smoking
- Take medication
Doing one or more of these will likely increase your good cholesterol and lower your bad cholesterol and triglycerides. Then, you’ll want to have your levels tested again to compare to see if you are now in the normal range.
What is Arteriosclerosis?
When your arteries are healthy, they are flexible and elastic. As you age, or your lipid levels get too high, your arteries become tough and thick. You may have heard this called hardening of the arteries.
Arteriosclerosis is the thickening or hardening of your arteries, and if left unchecked, can lead to atherosclerosis. This is when plaque (fat and cholesterol) builds up in your arteries and restricts blood flow to your tissue and organs.
That buildup usually goes undetected until it narrows or clogs the artery enough to create a blood clot or cause a stroke or heart attack.
Some symptoms you should be aware of that might alert you to a blood clot, heart attack or stroke:
- Numbness or weakness in extremities – arms or legs
- Slurred speech
- Drooping on one side of your face
- Chest pain or pressure
- Sudden loss of vision in one eye
If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor ASAP.
Treatment options for hardening of the arteries are the same for high lipid levels. The factors that caused your arteriosclerosis will determine the best course of action to take.
The same treatment options can also be considered preventative options (other than medication). If you get your health in check before you are at risk for arteriosclerosis, it will also lower your lipids.
Can I Get Life Insurance with High Lipid Levels?
Yes, but it depends.
Once you submit your life insurance application, the underwriter will want to check your medical history and exam results thoroughly.
If you are otherwise healthy with no family history of heart disease, slightly elevated lipid levels will still get you approved.
However, if you have other health concerns, or have a family history of either, then your chances decrease dramatically. You might even get denied.
Can I Get Life Insurance with Arteriosclerosis?
Same answer – yes, but it depends.
If you have been diagnosed with hardening of the arteries, then it’s likely that you also have high lipids. These two factors alone can be cause for life insurance denial, even if you are otherwise healthy.
With atherosclerosis, you probably have one or more of these other concerns:
- High blood pressure
- Tobacco use
- Unhealthy diet
- Lack of exercise
- Family history
- High cholesterol
Is it any surprise that all of these concerns directly contribute to increased lipid levels and arteriosclerosis?
Getting healthy and making better choices are the key to increasing your chances at a great life insurance rate and price.
The Application Process
When applying for life insurance, you will answer the standard questions that everyone is asked when filling out a life insurance application. If you have high cholesterol, abnormally high lipid levels or hardening of the arteries, you should be prepared to also answer the following questions:
- What are your current lipid numbers?
- How old were you when you were diagnosed with high lipids? What were your test results when you were diagnosed?
- Have you had a stress electrocardiogram test done? What were the results?
- Have you had any heart-related issues? When and what?
- Are you taking any medications for lipids or your heart?
- Are you a smoker?
- What protocol did your doctor prescribe and are you following it?
What Rating Can I Expect to Get?
If your lipids are within the normal range outlined above, and you are in otherwise great health, you can expect to get the best rating and price.
If you have been diagnosed with hardening of the arteries, you don’t have a chance of getting approved at the preferred plus rating.
If your lipids are close to normal but slightly high, say one or two numbers are off but not by much, you can possibly get preferred if you are in great health otherwise.
If your arteriosclerosis was caught early and is well controlled by medication, and you are in great health without other risk factors, you could qualify for preferred.
You can be considered for a standard rating with abnormal lipids and hardening of the arteries. Other factors will be considered including your age, height and weight ratios, whether or not you’re a smoker, and if you have other health factors to worry about.
If nothing is found to be concerning, then you will probably be approved with a standard rating.
Substandard or Table Rating
Too many risk factors in your application will cause you to get a substandard rating, which will increase your premium for the life of the policy.
Blocked arteries, family history, uncontrolled lipids, being overweight, and/or a smoker can all contribute to a substandard approval rating.
If your health is deteriorating, you’ve been diagnosed with atherosclerosis, or you’ve had other heart issues, there is a chance of being denied for life insurance.
What Can I Do if I’m Denied?
The first thing to do if you are denied for life insurance is to find out what factors contributed to your denial. Then, work on those specific items to improve your overall health and you can choose to reapply in a year or two.
If you don’t have any insurance in place and need some before you are able to reapply, consider getting a guaranteed issued life insurance policy. It will be expensive and you won’t get much coverage, but it’s something to have while you work on your health.
If you are able to get approved at a better rating and price point, later on, you can either keep your guaranteed issued policy or cancel it.
Got Any Other Tips for Me?
We always do!
If you want to take charge of your health and avoid high lipid numbers or being diagnosed with hardening of the arteries, pay attention to this section.
Eat a Healthier Diet
Focus on eating a low-fat, high fiber diet. This will help reduce the amount of fat and cholesterol hanging out in your arteries, as well as your risk for heart-related illnesses.
It should also help you to lose weight if needed, which will increase your chances of getting a higher life insurance rating and save you money on the premium.
Getting 30 to 60 minutes of activity per day is a great way to change your lipid numbers and also reduce your chances of cardiovascular diseases.
The key to knowing if you’re “doing it right” – make sure you are sweating and your heart rate has increased. Take a brisk walk, play a game with your kids, go for a jog with your dog to get your blood flowing and knock out any plaque in your arteries!
We know it can be very difficult, and feel almost impossible, for some people to quit smoking.
If you are one of those people, the CDC offers lots of tips from previous smokers and resources to help you quit.
If you are working on our two prior tips, you won’t have as much time to smoke and hopefully will be busier in the kitchen and spending time outdoors to remember to light up a cigarette.
Take Your Meds
If your doctor has prescribed medication as part of your treatment plan, make sure you are following directions and taking them.
Cholesterol-lowering medications can help lower your lipid proteins and reduce your risk for hardening of the arteries. If you are also completing our other tips, you can likely get off medication after you are retested and can show your doctor that your entire health outlook has improved.
Once you’ve worked on all our tips, compare your previous test results with your current ones and be amazed at the progress you’ve made at improving your health! Then, speak with one of our agents who can help you find the life insurance company that best fits your new and improved you.
You can also go here to get a quote online.