How Does an Enlarged Heart Affect a Life Insurance Application?


If you have an enlarged heart, getting life insurance can present some challenges. The severity of your condition is critical, as is the specific life insurance companies that make application to. If you do have an enlarged heart, it will be very important that you have a competent agent working on your behalf. This is a particularly difficult condition to get life insurance with, and you should never try the do-it-yourself approach.

What is an Enlarged Heart?

Known in the medical field as cardiomyopathy, an enlarged heart is a form of heart muscle disease. It is a progressive disease in which the heart is abnormally enlarged, thickened, or stiffened. This interferes with the heart’s ability to pump blood, and can result in heart failure as well as the backup of blood into the lungs and the rest of the body. Abnormal heart rhythms are also associated with the disease.

There are three types of cardiomyopathy:

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). This form of the disease is caused when the heart’s ability to pump blood is reduced because the left ventricle, which is the main pumping chamber, is enlarged and weakened. This prevents the heart from filling with blood, and it can eventually impact other chambers of the heart.

The goal in treating DCM is to make the heart stronger and eliminating substances in the bloodstream that cause the enlarging. Lifestyle changes are used, along with certain medications that include beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, and diuretics. In some cases, cardiac resynchronization by biventricular pacemaker or use of an implantable cardioverter defibrillators can be used as well.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). This condition is a thickening of the heart muscle, most commonly at the septum between the ventricles, below the aortic valve. The condition causes the stiffening of the walls of the heart and abnormal aortic and mitral heart valve function, which may impede normal blood flow out of the heart. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can be genetic, but it is also thought to be the result of high blood pressure and the aging process. But in many cases the exact cause is unknown.

Treatment includes lifestyle changes (diet and exercise), medications (beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers), and procedures including septal myectomy, ethanol ablation, and implantable cardioverter defibrillators.

Restrictive cardiomyopathy. This is the least common of the three types of enlarged heart conditions. It is a condition in which the walls of the lower chambers of the heart (the ventricles) are abnormally rigid and lack the flexibility to expand as the ventricles fill with blood. In time, the heart can lose the ability to pump blood properly, leading to heart failure.

Restrictive cardiomyopathy is not believed to be genetic. Known causes include the buildup of scar tissue (with the cause unknown), chemotherapy, the buildup of abnormal proteins in the heart muscle, excess iron or other systemic diseases.

Lifestyle changes, like diet and exercise are used to treat the condition. But treatment is usually focused on treating the cause of the condition. Beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, and diuretics may also be used for this purpose. In extreme cases, a heart transplant may be necessary.

How Life Insurance Companies See Applicants with an Enlarged Heart

Because virtually all types of enlarged heart conditions have the potential to lead to heart failure, insurance companies will do a deep investigation into your current condition, as well as the history of the progression of your disease.

They’ll be interested specifically in the following:

  • The date of your first diagnosis
  • The age at which you were diagnosed
  • Family history of cardiomyopathy or other heart related diseases or disorders
  • What symptoms you have had due to cardiomyopathy, including shortness of breath,
    and how frequently they occur
  • What medications you take for your cardiomyopathy or for other conditions
  • The results of your most recent tests, including EKG
  • Surgical history, including heart surgery, the implantation of a pacemaker or defibrillator
  • History of tobacco or alcohol use
  • Your prognosis level

Insurance underwriters will do an analysis of the state of your condition, the treatments that you have received or are receiving, and how well you are responding to them. They will also be concerned with your overall health condition, including your weight and any other illnesses or conditions that you may suffer from.

They will also look to make sure that you are fully cooperating with your treatment regimen. Because of the wide variety of condition levels, life insurance approval for a person with an enlarged heart is not guaranteed, and generally carries a higher premium level when it is approved.

But in many cases, you can get life insurance even with an enlarged heart. Often you can get it at a lower premium than you might expect.

Applying For Life Insurance When You Have an Enlarged Heart

If you do have an enlarged heart and need life insurance, there is much that you can do to help your own cause. The most important is making sure that you are fully complying with your treatment regimens. This will include faithfully taking any required medications, and undergoing any procedures necessary to control or improve the condition.

You must also be proactive in regard to your overall health. That means maintaining a proper diet and regular exercise. In most cases involving an enlarged heart, doctors recommend a regimen of light aerobic exercise, such as walking. By contrast, they generally advise against heavy weightlifting due to the potential strain on the heart. Obviously maintaining a healthy body weight is critically important.

It must also be clear that you are not a smoker, that you do not consume large amounts of alcohol, as either are known to have a negative impact on the heart muscle.

It is also important to be absolutely truthful when completing your life insurance application. An enlarged heart usually means a long and deep medical history, which is fully available to life insurance companies through databases. Be sure to complete the application to the best of your knowledge, don’t exclude any significant events or information.

Choosing the Right Life Insurance Company and Agent

We generally recommend careful consideration of which life insurance companies to apply to any time a health condition is present. But this is even more important if you have an enlarged heart. Some companies will flat-out reject your application, others will approve it but at very high premiums. You must be able to concentrate only on the companies that are likely to take the most favorable view of a person with your condition.

If you have an enlarged heart, you should not apply for life insurance on your own. There’s simply no way for you to know who the best companies will be for your condition. But we know who those companies are, we would love to help you find them. Give us a call, and we’ll help you do just that. We promise to get you the best policy for the lowest premium available.