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Getting Life Insurance After a Heart Attack

Even if you've been turned down before, we can help. As brokers, we're often asked to find life insurance for heart attack victims. To find the best company for you, we'll need to know how much time has passed since your heart attack, and what medications you are taking.

The condition of a person having a heart attack

More About Heart Attacks

Heart muscles need oxygen from the blood for it to survive and function. Heart attack happens when the heart doesn’t get enough blood flow and can’t get the oxygen it needs. Medically, it is known as Myocardial infarction (MI). “Myo” stands for muscles, “cardial” means the heart and “infarction” refers to tissue death. This tissue death can cause long-term damage to the cardiac muscles. The longer time passes with no intervention to restore the regular blood flow, the more life-threatening heart attack is. According to American College of Cardiology, approximately every 40 seconds one American will have a myocardial infarction. Some heart attacks occur suddenly, but most have noticeable signs and symptoms days or weeks before the attack. MI can be fatal but treatment is available as long as the person gets help quickly. The difference between heart attack and cardiac arrest is that the latter is a condition in which the heart stops working completely.

CAUSES

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common cause of heart attack. CAD is a condition wherein the coronary arteries become narrow resulting in decreased or blocked blood flow. The cause of this narrow passage is called plaque. They (plaques) are fat, inflammatory cells, calcium and protein deposits that buildup in your arteries as time goes by. Plaques are hard on outside but soft on the inside. During heart attack, these plaques can burst and spill cholesterol/fats into the bloodstream. Once that happens, blood clot occurs at the site of rupture. Now, if the clot is large, it can hinder the blood flow and the heart will starve for oxygen which in turn will cause the coronary muscle cells to die leading to permanent damage. Another cause of heart attack is the severe spasm of a coronary artery. During this spasm, there will be on and off restrictions in the arteries which cuts the blood supply to the heart. Frequent use of tobacco and prohibited drugs may cause life-threatening spasms.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

Heart attack symptoms may vary from person to person. Since heart attacks can be fatal, it is vital to recognize the signs and symptoms as soon as possible. Major symptoms of heart attack are: chest pain or discomfort, discomfort in upper areas of the body (back, jaw, throat or arm), shortness of breath, and lightheadedness. These symptoms can differ in frequency and duration. Other symptoms include fatigue, cold sweats, nausea and sometimes vomiting.

RISK FACTORS

Several health conditions may precipitate the occurrence of heart attack. It may also contribute to the buildup of fatty deposits in arteries. According to American Heart Association (AHA), risk factors for heart attack are divided into three categories: major, modifiable and contributing. Major risk factor categories are those that can’t be changed or controlled. An example of this is age. Majority of people who die of Coronary artery disease are 65 or older. Another factor considered is gender. Men have greater risk of heart attack than women and men suffer attacks earlier in life. The last factor to consider is the heredity (including race). African-Americans have severe high blood pressure compared to Caucasians. It is also higher among Mexican-Americans, American Indians, Native Hawaiians and some Asian-Americans.

Modifiable category risk factors are those that you can change, treat or control. One example is tobacco smoke. AHA stated that cigarette smoking is a powerful risk factor for sudden cardiac death in patients with coronary artery disease. A non-smoker will be less likely to develop heart disease compared to smokers. Another modifiable risk factor is high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure. If these two escalate, there is a greater possibility for a heart attack to occur. High blood cholesterol may increase the plaque buildup in arteries while high blood pressure can increase the heart’s workload causing the cardiac muscles to thicken and become stiffer than what is normal. Obesity, overweight and physical inactivity are also contributing factors but they can be overcome by lifestyle modification (eating healthy and exercising). Diabetes is a serious risk factor for cardiovascular disease. As per AHA, at least 68 percent of people with diabetes over 65 years of age die in some form of heart disease. If an individual has diabetes, he/she must consult with his/her doctor how to control and manage it.

Lastly, examples of contributing factors are: stress, alcohol, diet and nutrition. People who are overstressed may have the tendency to overeat, start smoking, or smoke more frequently. Too much alcohol can raise blood pressure and in turn, increase risk for other cardiovascular diseases. Food intake can affect the risk factors like cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes. Healthy nutrition must be accompanied by proper physical activity. Active lifestyle, healthy diet and nutrition are the most effective weapon a person can use to fight cardiovascular disease.

DIAGNOSIS

Aside from taking the patient's medical and family history, the doctor will also require some tests to diagnose a heart attack. The first test is the electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG). It is a painless and simple step wherein it records the electrical signals as they travel through the heart. ECG shows the rate, rhythm and strength of the heart. It also tells how much of the heart muscle has been damaged. Blood test is also important since certain heart proteins are released into the blood circulation. Increased levels of protein than normal levels may indicate a heart attack. Coronary catheterization (Angiogram) is a test where a dye is injected into the arteries of the heart. The purpose of the die is to reveal areas of blockage in heart or blood vessels. Other tests are chest x-ray, MRI or CT scans.

TREATMENT

Because heart attacks are life threatening, they require immediate emergency attention or treatment. Immediately call the hospital for an emergency if someone is having a heart attack. There are different medications used to treat heart attack. The most famous one is Aspirin. It is a drug that can reduce blood clotting and help maintain blood flow through a narrowed artery. Another drug category used to treat heart attacks are the thrombolytic. These are medications that help dissolve blood clot. Examples are streptokinase and alteplase. Antiplatelet drugs such as Clopidogrel (Plavix), Prasugrel (Effient), and Ticagrelor (Brilinta) may stop the clotting. Nitroglycerin can also treat chest pain and improve blood flow to the heart. Beta-blockers such as Metoprolol, Acebutolol, and Atenolol relax the cardiac muscle and decrease the heart’s workload. ACE inhibitors like Captopril, Enalapril, and Lisinopril, aids in lowering the blood pressure. Statins (Atorvastatin, Rosuvastatin) can help lower the blood cholesterol.

Surgical procedures can also help treat a heart attack. Bypass surgery provides a new route for blood to flow into the cardiac muscle. This procedure involves grafting a healthy artery or vein from a person’s body. That artery is then connected to bypass (goes around) the blocked section of the coronary artery. Another procedure is the coronary angioplasty and stenting. It is a procedure to open the blocked arteries. Doctors use a long, thin tube and guide it through a blocked artery in the heart. The catheter uses a tiny balloon that is inflated to open a blocked coronary artery. This helps restore blood flow to the heart. A stent is used to keep it open for a long time.

Lifestyle changes can also be an important treatment. To prevent the heart disease from worsening, or heart attack from occurring again, lifestyle modifications must be applied. Examples of these modifications are lowering cholesterol, controlling diabetes and blood pressure, controlling stress, stopping use of tobacco, exercising and keeping a healthy body. Live healthy and stay healthy to enjoy life.





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