Heart-doctor

Life insurance for coronary heart disease

Why it's important to be insured if you're suffering from ischemic heart disease.

Ischemic heart disease, more commonly known as coronary heart disease, normally manifests itself in people of middle age, living sedentary lifestyles. Coronary heart disease is a hardening of the arteries caused by the prolonged consumption of fatty foods over many years. As fats and other substances gradually deposit on the artery walls near the heart, they constrict the flow of blood to and from the heart. Potential sufferers from coronary heart disease will over time experience:

  • Difficulty undertaking moderate to heavy exercise
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in the arms, neck, back and chest areas

Coronary heart disease in Australia

Coronary heart disease has become one of the major causes of death in middle age. Sedentary lifestyles, perhaps coupled with stressful occupations and an abundance of foods containing saturated fat and trans fat, have conspired to significantly predispose many middle aged and older people to coronary heart disease. Many of the dangerous fats people should avoid are found in processed and take away food, which is forming an increasing proportion of the diets of people, in affluent countries.

Coronary heart disease is killing more Australians than any other disease, according to a report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

According to the Australian Burden of Disease Study: Impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2011, released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) coronary heart disease is killing more Australians than any other disease. The study analysed the years of life lost (YLL) throughout 2011 and found that of 188 specific diseases it tracked, five ailments accounted for one-third of all life lost over the study period:

  1. Coronary heart disease
  2. Lung cancer
  3. Stroke
  4. Suicide and self-inflicted injuries
  5. Bowel cancer

Life insurance and ischemic heart disease

Life insurance is something that many people don't pay attention to until it's too late. As coronary heart disease is an affliction that normally has an onset in middle age, few people associate the necessity to have life insurance with these ranges of ailments as you’re not thinking a lot about your mortality when you are just 40 or 50 years old.

Coronary heart disease can have a major impact upon the ability of a person to work, as well as their lifestyle generally. Once a person has a heart condition, they will have to make drastic changes to their way of life, if they have been fortunate enough to survive the initial attack. For example, people who prior to the heart attack worked in stressful occupations, or those requiring some degree of strenuous exercise, can expect to be affected almost immediately. Stress and strenuous exercise are to be avoided, once a heart condition is diagnosed.

As the onset of coronary heart disease is usually sudden and has the potential to be fatal, if treatment is not available immediately, the families involved will be faced with a sudden and unplanned upheaval to their lives.

Life insurance has the potential to mitigate the effects of such sudden traumatic incidents. Life insurance taken up early in life will be cost effective and affordable. Delaying until middle age will be less cost effective as actuaries factor the increased probability of coronary heart disease into the premiums payable.

Taking out income protection if you have ischemic heart disease

Living with coronary heart disease forces people to make drastic changes to their lifestyles, and potentially their occupations. Heart attack victims have to avoid occupations that are stressful or involve strenuous physical activity. Stressful occupations have the potential to trigger another attack. Income protection softens the blow to the family budget when the individual is unable to re-enter the workforce for a period of time, due to the extended convalescence required when recovering from a heart attack. During convalescence, other unpaid duties the person would normally have performed may need to be outsourced as well. Income protection insurance reduces the financial impact of coronary heart disease on individuals and their families.

Although we would all like to avoid the possibility of coronary heart disease, and many of us live with the conviction that heart disease "only happens to others", the reality of our modern lives is that there are many pressures, both subtle and obvious that pre-disposes people, to this disease. A long term healthy diet which minimises exposure to saturated fats and the other foodstuffs that predispose people to clogging of the arteries is an obvious first line of defence.

  • Replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats, such as soybean, corn and safflower oils, as well as salmon, mackerel, trout and herring, are reputed to reduce the risk of heart attack. Walnuts and sunflower seeds also fall into this category.
  • Monounsaturated fats are a healthier alternative to saturated fat. This type of fat can be found in olive oil, macadamia nuts, almonds, peanuts, and avocados.
  • Consuming alcohol in moderation and avoiding tobacco have also been found to be important factors in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease.
  • Regular blood pressure checks and using appropriate blood pressure medication to maintain your blood pressure in an appropriate range for age, is vital.
  • Other risk factors that can predispose an individual to an increased risk of coronary heart disease are high levels of cholesterol, obesity, post menopausal women and family history.

Lifestyle initiatives supported by an appropriate life insurance policy which protects the families of heart attack victims, and an income protection plan to ease the reduction in income, due to the prolonged convalescence a person will face after a heart attack, provides the best way of mitigating the trauma associated with coronary heart disease.

Life insurance rewards programs

These life insurance programs reward policyholder who choose to live a healthy lifestyle with benefits such as reduced premiums. Find out more about rewards programs by looking at the following pages:

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Richard Laycock

Richard is the senior insurance writer at finder.com.au and is on a mission to make insurance easier to understand.

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