Purchasing Life Insurance After Heart Valve Repair Surgery
Have you had a heart valve repair surgery and want to know if you can qualify for an affordable life insurance policy?
At JRC Insurance Group, our agents specialize with circulatory issues and we represent dozens of highly-rated companies to make sure our clients are always matched with the best policy that available.
In this article, we provide sample rates and offer insider tips to help you get the best rates for life insurance after a heart valve repair surgery.
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Heart Valve Repair Surgery and Life Insurance
The heart’s primary function is to pump oxygen-rich blood from the lungs to the rest of the body. In order to achieve this, it’s critical for the heart’s valves to function correctly. The good news is that with the recent advances in medical technology, many people who have had a heart valve repair are able to live normal, healthy lives.
However, life insurance companies are aware that applicants who have had a heart valve repair surgery run a higher risk of having a stroke or heart attack. Luckily, some life insurance companies are more lenient with applicants who have had a heart valve repair procedure than others. Applying with the right insurance company can save you thousands of dollars and reduce the chances of your application being denied.Our agents specialize in finding the best rates for anyone who has ever had a heart surgery performed by shopping dozens of top-rated life insurance companies.
Common Heart Valve Repair Procedures
Heart valves perform two basic functions. The first function of these valves is to open properly and allow blood to empty from the heart’s chambers. The second function of these valves is to close correctly so that the blood does not flow in the wrong direction, or regurgitate.There are some cases in which the valves have issues and need to have surgery performed in order to be repaired.
A valvuloplasty is also known as a balloon valvotomy. This procedure is performed on valves that are narrowing or stenotic. During a valvuloplasty, the valve is widened using a balloon catheter which is inflated once it is inserted into the affected valve.
A ring annuloplasty is a procedure that is performed on a leaky or regurgitating heart valve. During a ring annuloplasty, the surgeon tightens the valve by sealing a ring-like device that’s made of metal, tissue, or cloth around the opening of the valve.
A heart valve repair procedure is performed to repair a leaky (regurgitating) or narrowed (stenotic) heart valve. During a valve repair procedure, the affected heart valve is trimmed or the surgeon will rebuild one or both of the flaps that allow the heart valve to open and close.
As we get older, calcium deposits build up on the heart valves and these deposits can prevent the heart valves from completely closing. During a heart valve decalcification procedure, the calcium buildup is removed from the leaflets that guard the opening of the valve, allowing them to open and close properly.
Heart valves can become narrowed when the leaflets that guard the opening of the valve become thickened or get stuck together. During a commissurotomy, the surgeon opens the valve by cutting the area where the leaflets meet.
The leaflets that protect the top of the heart valves can develop a hole or a tear. These holes or tears can be repaired by a surgeon with a patch of tissue.
Most heart valve repair surgeries are minimally invasive and require only a few small incisions. These procedures can increase the lifespan of the patient by preserving the heart muscle and decreasing the need for prescription blood thinners like Plavix, Coumadin, or warfarin.
The Four Types of Heart Valves and Their Functions
Your heart has four valves that open and close with each heartbeat. Their main function of each valve is to ensure that the blood flows in a single direction. Below are the names and descriptions of the four valves that the human heart consists of.
1. Pulmonary ValveThe pulmonary valve allows blood to be pumped from the heart to the lungs, allowing the blood to receive oxygen.
2. Mitral Valve
The mitral valve is located in the upper left heart chamber and opens up to collect oxygen-rich blood from the lungs. Mitral valves are the most common valve heart valve to have repaired.
3. Aortic Valve
The aortic valve opens up from the left ventricle, allowing blood to leave the heart and flow throughout the rest the body. Aortic valves are more commonly replaced than repaired.
4. Tricuspid Valve
The tricuspid valve is located on the upper right chamber of the heart and prevents blood from flowing back into the right atrium.
Common Heart Issues that Require Valve Repair Surgery
According to Texasheart.org, surgeons perform about 106,000 heart valve operations per year, and nearly all of them that are performed are to either repair or replace mitral or aortic valves. Tricuspid valves are commonly repaired as well.
Below are some of the heart valve issues that can arise, which could cause one or more of your heart valves to need to repairing or replacement.
Mitral Valve Prolapse
Mitral valve prolapse or MVP is actually quite common and in most cases it is harmless. MVP affects about 2% of the population and is usually without symptoms.
However, mitral valve prolapse can progress and cause chest pain, fatigue, arrhythmias, and heart palpitations. Some situations of MVP result in valve leakage or regurgitation, which can cause blood clots to form. These blood clots increase the chances of having a stroke or heart attack.
Heart valve stenosis occurs when the heart valve becomes too narrow to allow enough blood to flow through it. The majority of stenosis cases do not require treatment, but in some situations the valve will need to be repaired or replaced.
Common symptoms of stenosis include; fainting, lightheadedness, fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, and an inability to exercise. Over time, stenosis can cause heart murmurs or an enlarged heart.
Regurgitation or Insufficiency
Heart valve regurgitation or insufficiency occurs when a heart valve doesn’t completely close, which allows blood to flow back into the heart. Like other heart valve issues, regurgitation can result in shortness of breath, fatigue, a rapid heartbeat, and lightheadedness.
Not all people with valve regurgitation require treatment, but in severe cases blood thinners are commonly prescribed and valve repair or replacement surgery may be necessary.
Questions Your Agent Will Ask About Your Heart Valve Repair
When applying for life insurance after heart valve repair, your agent will need you to answer a series of questions in order to determine your eligibility for coverage. These questions will help your agent provide you with accurate quotes and determine the company that is the best fit for you.
Below are some of the questions your agent will likely ask you before applying:
What type of valve disorder do you have?
Those who have mitral valve repairs via valvuloplasty will be looked at most favorably if the post-op ejection fraction is greater than 55% and there is only mild mitral insufficiency.
Applicants that have had a leaky aortic valve with no signs of stenosis and have had their leaflets reshaped by a surgeon will receive the most favorable rates if their ejection infraction is greater than 55% and there is no to minimal amounts of leakage following the surgery.
How much time has passed since your surgery?
Life insurance underwriters will postpone your approval for life insurance for six months to a year following a heart valve repair surgery. This postponement period allows the insurance companies to make sure there are no complications from the heart valve repair and determine if the surgery was successful.
Have you had any symptoms following the procedure?
If you have experienced angina (chest pain), palpitations, or nausea following your surgery it is likely a sign of poor cardiac function and your application will likely be declined. In this situation, your best option for life insurance coverage is probably a guaranteed issue life insurance policy.
Have you had any heart tests performed following your surgery?
Life insurance carriers will want to see that you had a post-op stress test or EKG done in order to assess that your heart is functioning properly. These tests can also show the underwriters that you have been abiding by your physician’s orders and managing your condition. If the surgery was successful and only one valve was affected, you may qualify for a “standard” rate class with a few companies.
Are you taking any medications?
Common medications for heart valve disorders are anticoagulants, high blood pressure medications, and aspirin. The underwriters like to see that the applicant has good control over their condition, but in some cases medications may mean that the condition is becoming more serious.
Do you have any other medical conditions?
Health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, COPD, and atrial fibrillation will definitely affect your premiums as well as your chances of receiving coverage. If you have compounding health issues, your agent may recommend a guaranteed issue life insurance policy.
Sample Rates for Life Insurance After Heart Valve Repair
If you have had aortic heart valve surgery performed, the life insurance companies will consider the reason for your surgery. Life insurance companies tend to be more lenient with applicants who have had surgery performed for stenosis rather than insufficiency, especially after the age of 50. We’ve displayed some sample rates for aortic insufficiency and stenosis below.
How We Can Help You Save Money on Life Insurance: JRC’s Promise to YOU!
If you have had heart issues in the past, or if you have had a heart valve repair surgery, give JRC Insurance Group a call toll-free at: 855-247-9555. Our agents are experienced in helping high risk applicants find the coverage they need at the lowest rates available.
We are appointed by over 50 “top-rated” life insurance companies which allows our experts to match you with the best rates and the most options. Our agents are consultative and we take our time with each client to make sure we match you with the right company. Give us a call today, or request a free quote online below, we will be happy to help you with your life insurance needs!
Managing Partner and Co-founder
Cliff is a licensed life insurance agent and one of the owners of JRC Insurance Group. He has helped thousands of families of businesses with their life insurance needs since 2012 and specializes with applicants who are less than perfect health. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with family, traveling, and the great outdoors.