People with heart conditions tend to think that they won’t be able to get approved for a life insurance policy. While that may be the case for some, more often than not, there is coverage available.
Mitral valve disorders are diagnosed in about five million Americans each year. The type of life insurance and the rate you will be approved for is determined by the severity and type.
Let’s take a look at what mitral valve disorders are, the symptoms, and how they’re treated. Then, we’ll talk about your chances of getting approved for life insurance and the rate you can expect. We’ll also offer some tips on increasing your chances of getting approved for life insurance.
What is a Mitral Valve Disorder?
Mitral valve disorder, or heart valve disease, occurs when the mitral valve doesn’t work properly. Your heart works in a very rhythmic way – it pumps blood into your heart and then right back out. In someone with a heart valve disease, this process is interrupted.
The heart has four valves:
Blood pumps into the heart from the top chamber and then flows out of the bottom ventricle. The mitral and tricuspid valves open and then quickly shut to move blood from the atrium to the ventricle.
When someone has a mitral valve disorder, it means they have one of three conditions:
- Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) – this occurs when the mitral valve flaps into the upper chamber during heart contraction. It is typically not life threatening and for most people does not require further treatment.
- Mitral valve regurgitation – Most common in people with mitral valve prolapse and is the most common heart leakage problem. This happens when the blood flows back into the upper chamber rather than into the lower ventricle. The ventricle can thicken over time due to overwork and fluid could also build up in the lungs
- Mitral valve stenosis – This occurs when the valve tissue thickens, blocking or limiting blood flow through the heart. Calcium and deposits building up over time can cause stenosis. Eventually, the heart will thicken causing shortness of breath and could lead to further issues.
Mitral Valve Disorder Causes
Some people are born with heart valve disease, and some acquire it suddenly. Known causes for a mitral valve disorder are:
- Valve infections
- Family history of heart disease
- Getting older
- Other heart problems – heart attack, heart failure, plaque or calcium buildup
- Autoimmune disorders – lupus, rheumatoid arthritis
- Radiation therapy
- Certain diet medications
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Little to no physical activity
- Being overweight or obese
Mitral Valve Disorder Signs and Symptoms
Not everyone has symptoms of mitral valve disease. Here is what to look out for:
- Unusual or irregular heartbeat (heart murmur)
- A feeling of shortness of breath, especially when lying flat or after strenuous activity
- Weakness or extreme exhaustion that comes on suddenly
- Heart palpitations
- Unexplained swelling in the feet, ankles or abdomen
These signs are fairly common in various diseases and illnesses and might not mean you have a mitral valve disease. If you start to notice some of these symptoms, get checked by a doctor to determine the cause.
Mitral Valve Disorder Diagnosis
A doctor will want to run some tests to determine if you do have some form of heart disease. First, they will check with a stethoscope to determine if a heart murmur is present.
Then, they’ll order tests to be completed, which can include:
- Stress electrocardiogram (EKG)
- Cardiac catheterization
- Cardiac MRI
- Chest x-rays
Once the findings are in, your doctor will determine a treatment plan for your condition.
Mitral Valve Disorder Treatment
The treatment plan your doctor comes up with will take into consideration the severity, your age, and health. For some people, no treatment is needed and they will be monitored in case the condition worsens.
For others, there are three main types of treatment prescribed:
- Heart valve replacement or repair
- Lifestyle changes
Getting Approved for Life Insurance with Mitral Valve Disease
It’s not impossible to get life insurance, and some people are surprised they can still qualify for good rates. Having mitral valve disease will mean more work for you when completing the application, though.
When applying for traditional life insurance, you’ll have to answer some health questions. After being diagnosed with heart valve disease, more information will be needed.
You’ll want to be prepared to answer some additional health questions:
- When were you diagnosed?
- What condition were you diagnosed with (mitral valve prolapse, mitral valve regurgitation, mitral valve stenosis)?
- What treatment plan did your doctor prescribe?
- Was surgery required? If so, what type and when did it occur?
- Do you have any other heart related issues?
- Are you taking any medications? If so, what type and dosage?
- What were the results of your most recent tests?
- Do you have a family history of heart related issues?
Be prepared to provide information from your doctor, cardiologist, and any other specialists you are seeing. You’ll also need to provide medication information including the dosage you are taking.
When getting life insurance with heart valve disease, you’ll want to put some time between diagnosis and application. If you’ve been diagnosed within the last 12 months, it will increase your chances of getting denied.
The underwriters will want to see that you’ve followed your doctors orders. They want to make sure that you are taking care of yourself and reducing the risk of further health issues.
What Rate Can I Expect to Get?
The rate you get will depend on your diagnosis, health, and age. The more severe your heart disease, the lower your rate. That means the premium will be higher.
If you are in great health with no other conditions or issues, you might get approved for this rate. It is only reserved for those who are in the best of health. You can qualify for this rate with mitral valve prolapse without regurgitation or other issues.
Possible for those with mitral valve prolapse and no other issues. Preferred allows for small issues, so if you aren’t in optimal health but pretty close, you can get this rate.
Possible for those with mild mitral valve stenosis or regurgitation. This is the best rate for those with these conditions. You must be in decent health and not have any serious issues to get this rate.
Substandard (Table Rating)
Very likely for those with mitral valve stenosis or regurgitation. People with underlying heart condition and mitral valve prolapse will also fall into this rating. The severity of the mitral valve disease, family history, and overall health will be considered.
It is possible to be denied for life insurance with mitral valve disease. If you have severe mitral valve stenosis or regurgitation, you’ll likely be declined. This is also true if there are other underlying conditions.
Things to do to Improve your Chances of Getting Approved
If you have been diagnosed with heart valve disease, you may have already gotten these tips. They will not only help with getting approved for life insurance, it will improve your overall health.
That means that when you do apply for life insurance, you’ll have a better chance of being approved. And likely at a better rate than you would have qualified for, which will reduce the premium cost.
If you need to work on most or all of these tips, you might want to hold off on applying. You want to be in the best health you can be for the best rates. Consider working on these tips for at least six months before applying for life insurance.
Almost everyone can benefit from cleaning up their diet. It can help improve your heart valve disease, but can also help in other ways. You’ll lose weight, have more energy, and it can help with other health issues.
It is recommended that you limit added sugar, alcohol, and sodium. You’ll also want to eat more of these types of foods:
- Green vegetables
- Whole grains
- Lean meats
- Nut oils
- Seed butter
If you follow the diet plan above or what your doctor gave you, this will likely be easier. A healthy diet will naturally cause you to lose some of that unwanted weight. Not only does this help with your heart issue, it can also help with other health issues.
Plus, the closer you are to a healthy weight, the better rating you can get on your life insurance policy.
You’ll need to be more active if you want to qualify for better insurance rates. Your goal is to make your heart pump faster and use more oxygen than normal.
Aim for at least two and a half hours of moderate level exercise each week. If you have kids, take them outside to play some games. Take the dog for a brisk walk every day, or enjoy a sunset jog.
Once you start eating better and exercising more, weight loss will be much easier. You won’t have to put in much more effort to get slim!
This is another great tip for overall health, but especially for your heart and life insurance rates. Smokers automatically get higher life insurance rates, even if they are in otherwise perfect health.
Once you quit smoking, you qualify for better life insurance rates. Plus, you save even more money by kicking the habit. If you have trouble quitting, you can find a support group or resources online.
Reduce Your Stress
This tip might be more difficult depending on your personal situation. Job demands, along with kids and running a household, is stressful for most.
A lot of people find meditation, exercise, and talking -whether to friends, family or a counselor – helpful. Reducing your stress levels will help your heart health and reduce your risk of other health issues.
Find something that works for you and stick with it.
Of course, before you start any of these changes to your lifestyle, make sure to talk with your doctor. They will set you up with a plan tailored for you and your health. They will also help keep track of your progress and make changes as needed.
Are you ready to get started in the life insurance process? Get a quote today!