Enlarged hearts are a condition caused by left ventricular hypertrophy and are linked to some major heart problems. This is serious enough in itself, however, the difficulties for people with enlarged hearts unfortunately do not end there.
Life insurance companies are also much less likely to give you preferred ratings when you have left ventricular hypertrophy, though, there is hope. By living a healthy lifestyle and by working with one of our insurance agents, you can still find affordable coverage even with an enlarged heart.
Here is a little information about what left ventricular hypertrophy is, and how to get the best life insurance policy after being diagnosed.
What is Left Ventricular Hypertrophy?
First, let’s go over what an enlarged heart caused by left ventricular hypertrophy, or LVH, actually is. An ‘enlarged heart’ can be used to describe a number of medical problems in which a person’s heart is oversized.
However, left ventricular hypertrophy is a specific condition in which the left ventricular wall of the heart, the side of the heart responsible for pumping oxygenated blood throughout the body, is thicker than 1.1 centimeters. LVH sometimes occurs as a result of strength training and/or aerobic exercise.
Most often, though, it’s a genetic issue or a symptom of cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure. LVH alone is not a disease, however, LVH can cause a number of health problems such as shortness of breath, chest pain and dizziness, and may even lead to a heart attack or stroke.
How Left Ventricular Hypertrophy can Affect Your Rates
A simple diagnosis of LVH doesn’t automatically disqualify you for good life insurance coverage. There are many other factors involved in getting life insurance with an enlarged heart that can drastically improve or worsen your rates.
These factors include which variation of LVH you have, how serious it is, and when you were diagnosed with it. All of these can affect which life insurance rating class you’ll qualify for. Here are some details which will influence your approvability.
What is the cause of your LVH?
There are three different categories of LVH. Depending on which one you have, LVH can be a minor footnote with your life insurance company or a complete deal breaker. You’ll need to check with your doctor to see which one you have, but here is a brief overview of them.
Hpertensive LVH is the result of hypertension or high blood pressure. This is the most common form of LVH and it can be improved by a healthy diet, heart medication and exercise. However, if you want at least a standard life insurance rating, you’re doctor is going to need to find evidence that your condition has improved over the last six months.
Also known as athlete’s heart, Athletic Hypertrophy is the most benign form of LVH. Athletic hypertrophy is caused when you work your heart too much until it essentially becomes swollen like a bruise. This can be problematic, but fortunately it’s temporary and if it heals by the time you apply for life insurance it may not even impact your rates at all.
This category, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, on the other hand, is more serious. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is caused by a genetic disease and may even require surgery. Unfortunately because of the health problems that this condition can lead to, people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy will mostly get only a substandard or table life insurance rating.
Results of Recent CTs and Echocardiograms.
One of the biggest factors that underwriters are looking for when signing you on for life insurance are how well you did in recent CT scans and echocardiograms. Both of these procedures measure the thickness of your left ventricular wall, while a cardio-thoratic ratio (or CTR) measures the size of the heart in comparison to the ribcage.
A healthy CTR is less than 0.5. After being diagnosed with an enlarged heart, these devices are used to see the extent of the damage and check how well your heart is pumping blood. Obviously, the better your heart does, the lower your rates will be.
Have you ever undergone any surgical procedures?
It’s very important to inform your agent if you’ve had any surgeries to correct problems resulting from LVH. If you have had any surgeries for an enlarged heart, most life insurance companies will want to wait at least six month after the surgery before offering a policy to see how well your heart has healed, and whether or not there are any complications from the surgery.
Similarly, if your doctors have suggested surgery for you, life insurance companies will usually wait until the procedure has been done and six months have passed before they determine your eligibility.
Are there any other risks involving your heart?
You’re probably going to have to pay more for life insurance if you have other risk factors for heart disease aside from LVH. This includes high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol and tobacco use.
None of these are healthy, and they are even worse considering how they’ll affect your premiums; however, by living a healthy lifestyle, making doctor appointments, exercising, losing weight and dieting, you can significantly improve your chances of making it to a better life insurance rating class and pay lower rates.
Does your family have a history of heart disease?
While most of the health conditions above such as obesity and high cholesterol can be improved, your genetic makeup can’t change. This can be good or bad depending on what your genetics are.
For example, if your biological relatives have a history of heart problems, this increases the chances that you will inherit them too. If your family does have heart problems, this doesn’t automatically mean you do as well. However, life insurance agencies are going to make a note of it.
Medically relevant genetic information is especially interesting to life insurances companies when combined with LVH. Any details they can get related to your heart are going to be thoroughly considered. It’s important to get this information out in the open for your agent, so they can get you the best results.
What lifestyle changes have you made and have they affected your LVH?
Lastly, it’s important to explain what steps you have taken to improve or worsen your health. There are many aspects to a person’s health that they cannot control, however, there are also many aspects that they can.
For example, by quitting smoking, eating healthier and exercising, it can not only drastically improve your health, but you can also lower the chances of paying more for life insurance. Though remember, if you want your rates to go down, you’re going to also need to show evidence that your healthier lifestyle has made a positive impact on your LVH.
So, after you’ve made some good changes, schedule a doctors appointment and have them make it official that your heart has improved.
How to Get the Best Life Insurance Rates With an Enlarged Heart
The odds may seem stacked against you when trying to apply for life insurance with LVH. And in a lot of ways, they are. However, that does not mean that you can’t get great coverage at an affordable price, even with an enlarged heart. It just means it may take some extra effort. Here is what you need to do before applying for life insurance with LVH.
Live as healthy of a lifestyle as possible
This has already been addressed previously, but it’s worth mentioning again. If there’s one thing that all life insurance companies have in common, it’s that they all want clients with good health and a high quality of life.
This is especially true for people with LVH. Since LVH itself is not a disease, you can address it through addressing its symptoms such as chest pain and breathing problems. Do this by exercising, taking heart medication and eating heart healthy foods, such as berries, avocado, fish and walnuts.
This is good advice for anyone applying for life insurance, no matter what health problems they suffer from; plus it’ll make you feel healthier and happier as well, meaning there’s no downside to bettering your health..
Apply for insurance with the right company
The next step for finding affordable coverage with LVH is to choose a company that views LVH more favorable. This is extremely important because no two companies view LVH the same. And if you rush into a contract with one company before looking for better alternatives, you may end up paying thousands more than you have to.
There are some companies who will immediately deny you if you have LVH. However, there are others that are willing to work with you if you suffer from this condition. So be sure to shop around and do your research. It may take some extra time, but it will be worth it when you find a company that’s right for you.
Work with an independent insurance agent
Finally, because life insurance is such a multifaceted process filled with loopholes and fine print, you’re going to want to find an independent life insurance agent who can help you navigate the confusion of applying for life insurance. Remember, your agent is there to help you, so don’t hold back any information.
They will need all the details available about your heart condition before they can do their job. So keep them up to date on any changes to your LVH diagnosis and all other factors surrounding your health. Also, let them know what kind of coverage you’re hoping to get—what your expenses are, how much debt you have, etc. This will allow them to find a policy that will take care of all your family’s needs.
Different Health Classes with an Enlarged Heart
Because there are many different kinds of LVH and no two life insurance companies view the condition the same, it can be difficult to give an exact prediction of what rating you’re likely to get. However, here are the three main classes, and what you need to know.
A preferred and preferred plus rating are the best possible outcomes when applying for life insurance with LVH. Unfortunately, they’re also the least likely.
Only around 10 percent of applicants with an enlarged heart make it to preferred or preferred plus life insurance rating. Those cases are for people with temporary athletic hypertrophy. Otherwise, don’t expect to receive this rating.
A standard rating is more probable for people with LVH. Since LVH does not cause death itself, it’s still very possible to get standard ratings. However, you’re going to need to tackle any associated problems such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
You’ll also need to show that echocardiograms within two years revealed an EF of 55%+ and that no other serious health issues are of concern. If you make it to standard class with LVH, you’ve done well.
Sadly, this is the most likely result for people with LVH. It’s essentially a guarantee for people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and very probable for people with hypertensive LVH.
If you can only get a substandard rating with a particular company, then it may be a good idea to shop around a little. This way you can see if there are any other places that will write you a better policy. I would recommend speaking with a life insurance agent first. They will direct you to the company who is most likely to give you the best rating.
If you get denied outright for life insurance because of your LVH, it’s not the end of the line. Guaranteed life insurance, while a last resort, is ideal for people who have been denied traditional coverage. Guaranteed life insurance means there are no medical exams required and almost no questions asked. However, you won’t get much coverage and it can be expensive.
Nobody wants to deal with heart problems like LVH. It can put an enormous amount of worry and stress on a person’s life. What makes it even worse is trying to navigate through the complexities of the life insurance industry while suffering from an enlarged heart.
However, even with LVH, quality life insurance is not out of reach. All you need is a little help, and that’s what we’re here for. To get a free online quote or to get in touch with one of our agents, contact us today!