The Ultimate Guide to Heart Medications and Life Insurance Approved

If your doctor diagnoses you with a heart condition, chances are they will prescribe medication as a part of your treatment plan. Many patients will take these medications for the rest of their life, and those people still desire the family protection that life insurance provides.

You may wonder:

“Hey, do my heart medications affect my life insurance application?”

The answer to that question is yes, however maybe not in the way you would think. Cardiac medications do not approve nor deny a life insurance application on their own. They provide clues to your health and are a part of a holistic look at how you are managing your heart conditions.

In this article we will tackle the main medications for any heart problem, and then dissect them step by step as to how they affect your rates for life insurance.

Prefer to skip to the good stuff? Just fill out a quote form below to get in touch with our underwriting experts. They will do all of the hard work regarding your medications for you.  

Best part? There is no charge to you for this service.

How do Life Insurance Companies get Information About My Prescriptions?

When you apply for life insurance, you give permission to those life insurance companies to seek out information on your behalf. They use third party services (the largest of which is Script Check) to compile your prescription history from the pharmacies that you use. There is not a “life insurance prescription database” so to speak, however there is a lot of data available from chain pharmacies, large HMOs and hospitals themselves.

Underwriters usually look at a five year prescription history, however if your policy amount is over $1,000,000 they may compile longer histories. Then, they compare that information to the medical information bureau to complete your personal file.

Why do Life Insurance Companies Care About My Medications?

Life insurance is based in risk, and life insurance companies want to see that you are taking the steps necessary to live a long healthy life. Your prescription history goes along with the medical questions on your application to paint a picture of your health.

The prescription check shows how often those prescriptions are refilled, and this indicates whether you are following the doctors’ orders or not.  Dosage changes also signal whether a heart condition is getting better or if it is getting more problematic.

The prescription information is not taken in a vacuum though; it is considered along with the application. Why you were prescribed the medication is the most important factor, because many of the medications on this list treat more than one condition.

Beta Blockers treat high-blood pressure while reducing strain on the heart.  So they could be prescribed for hypertension and atrial fibrillation, two completely different conditions to an underwriter.

When you were prescribed the medication is also important, because many drugs are prescribed only after a heart attack and then they are discontinued.

Let’s take a look at some of the more commonly prescribed medications to treat heart conditions.

We will go category by category and explain what they mean for life insurance underwriting.

Use the handy guide below – click “Show”- to skip to your specific medications.

The Ultimate Guide to Heart Medications and Life Insurance Approved

Anticoagulants (Blood Thinners)

  • Rivaroxaban (Xarelto)
  • Dabigatran (Pradaxa)
  • Apixaban (Eliquis)
  • Heparin (various)
  • Warfarin (Coumadin)

What These Medications Do

Anticoagulants prevent your blood from forming clots. Many people call them blood thinners, but they do not actually thin the consistency of your blood. Also, they do not dissolve existing blood clots. These medicines are also used to treat vascular (blood vessel) and pulmonary (lung) conditions. [/su_spoiler]

Why are Anticoagulants Prescribed?

  • To keep blood clots from forming in your blood vessels
  • To prevent existing clots from becoming larger and causing more serious conditions
  • In prevention of a first stroke or a recurrent stroke

What other conditions are treated?

  • Blood Clots
  • Stroke
  • Recurrent Stroke

When are Anticoagulants Prescribed?

Anticoagulants and Life Insurance
An insurance agent going door to door selling insurance might pause when you mention some of the medications of the anticoagulant variety.  However, most of these medications can still be approved by life insurance underwriters and at great rates too.

Can I qualify for a No-Exam policy? Possibly

Best Case: Preferred, depending on condition.

Worst Case Scenario: Moderate Substandard rates or Postponed.

Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors

  • Benazepril (Lotensin)
  • Captopril (Capoten)
  • Enalapril (Vasotec)
  • Fosinopril (Monopril)
  • Lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril)
  • Moexipril (Univasc)
  • Perindopril (Aceon)
  • Quinapril (Accupril)
  • Ramipril (Altace)
  • Trandolapril (Mavik)

What These Medications Do

Angiotensin is a hormone made by your body to maintain blood pressure and fluid balance in your body. ACE Inhibitors expand your blood vessels and reduce blood flow resistance by decreasing your body’s levels of angiotensin II.

This allows your blood to flow more freely in your veins and arteries, helping your heart pump blood with less effort and more efficiency.

Why are ACE Inhibitors Prescribed?

To treat or improve cardiovascular condition symptoms such as high blood pressure or heart failure

Conditions Treated by This Medication:

Time Frame for Prescribing ACE Inhibitors

ACE Inhibitors and Life Insurance
We work with ACE Inhibitors every day since these medications are used to treat high blood pressure. They are some of the easiest drugs to work with on a life insurance application and are very familiar to underwriters.

Can you qualify for a No-Exam policy? Probably

Best Case: Preferred, depending on condition and the life insurance company.

Worst Case Scenario: If treating congestive heart failure: Moderate Substandard rates to Decline

Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs)

  • Candesartan (Atacand)
  • Eprosartan (Teveten)
  • Irbesartan (Avapro)
  • Losartan (Cozaar)
  • Telmisartan (Micardis)
  • Valsartan (Diovan)

What do ARB Medications do?

Instead of reducing angiotensin II levels, ARBs actually prevent the chemical angiotensin II from affecting the heart and blood vessels. This blocking process prevents blood pressure from rising and keeps the blood vessels enlarged.

Why Your Doctor Might Prescribe Them

Treatment or improvement of cardiovascular condition symptoms such as high blood pressure or heart failure.  Also prescribed if you tried ACE Inhibitors and they caused an uncomfortable cough.

Conditions Treated by ARB Medications:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart failure
  • Kidney Disease

Time Frame for Prescribing These Drugs:

  • Following a heart attack or cardiac surgery
  • Upon receiving a high blood pressure diagnosis

Angiotensin Receptor Blockers and Life Insurance
ARB Medications often come across our desk because of their use in hypertension. Where the rate class falls depends on the condition, and with ARBs high blood pressure is easier to approve than heart failure.

Can you qualify for a No-Exam policy? Probably

Best Case: Preferred, depending on condition.

Worst Case Scenario: If treating heart failure: Moderate Substandard rates to Decline

Beta Blockers

  • Acebutolol (Sectral)
  • Atenolol (Tenormin)
  • Betaxolol (Kerlone)
  • Bisoprolol/hydrochlorothiazide (Ziac)
  • Bisoprolol (Zebeta)
  • Metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL)
  • Nadolol (Corgard)
  • Propranolol (Inderal)
  • Sotalol (Betapace)

What do Beta Blockers do?

Beta blockers slow your heart rate and cardiac output, lowering your blood pressure and reducing the force of each heartbeat.  They work by stopping the hormone adrenaline and they can work on both your heart and your blood vessels.

Why Your Doctor Might Prescribe Them

  • Reduction of overall blood pressure
  • To treat cardiac arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeat patterns) and angina (chest pain)
  • Preventing future heart attacks for patients who have already suffered a heart attack in the past.
  • If more mild medication-like diuretics-are ineffective.

Conditions Treated by Beta Blockers

  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • Heart attack
  • Chest Pain (Angina)
  • Migraines
  • Overactive Thyroids

When do Doctors Prescribe Beta Blockers?

Beta Blockers and Life Insurance
Beta Blockers are the second line of defense when treating high blood pressure, so they are sometimes rated higher than other medications like diuretics. Where the rate class ends up depends on the condition treated and recent blood pressure readings.

Can you qualify for a No-Exam policy? Sometimes.

Best Case Scenario: Standard Plus

Worst Case Scenario: If treating heart failure: Moderate Substandard rates to Decline

Diuretics (Water Pills)

  • Amiloride (Midamor)
  • Bumetanide (Bumex)
  • Chlorothiazide (Diuril)
  • Chlorthalidone (Hygroton)
  • Furosemide (Lasix)
  • Hydro-chlorothiazide (Esidrix, Hydrodiuril)
  • Indapamide (Lozol)
  • Spironolactone (Aldactone)

How do Diuretics Work?

Diuretics help the body get rid of excess fluids and sodium via urination. They also reduce strain on the heart and decrease buildup of fluid in the lungs and other areas of the body like the legs and ankles.  By removing this excess salt diuretics are effectively lowering the volume of blood in the body, and different diuretics remove fluid at different rates.

Why Your Doctor Might Prescribe Diuretics

  • To lower blood pressure
  • To reduce edema (swelling) caused by excess fluid buildup in the body

Conditions Treated

  • High blood pressure
  • Fluid swelling
  • Excess blood calcium or potassium
  • Glaucoma
  • Cirrhosis of the liver

Time Frame for Prescribing Diuretics

Immediately Upon diagnosis of high blood pressure, high sodium levels in the blood stream or upon diagnosis of edema, and sometimes as a preventative of the above.

Diuretics and Life Insurance
Diuretics are very common and should not concern you when you apply for life insurance.  They are rarely a factor in the life insurance underwriter’s decision.

Can you qualify for a No-Exam policy? Yes, depending on condition

Best Case Scenario: Preferred

Worst Case Scenario: If treating swelling due to congestive heart failure: Moderate Substandard rates to Decline

Cholesterol Lowering Medications (Statins)

These are medications generally prescribed to lower a patient’s blood cholesterol levels. Persons with high LDL (bad) cholesterol testing at 70-189 mg/dL over the age of 40 are more likely to suffer a stroke or heart attack within the next decade.

Your doctor may prescribe these medications to lower your LDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of developing a heart condition or CAD later in life. If you have already suffered a heart attack or stroke, your doctor may prescribe cholesterol lowering medications to help prevent future heart attacks or recurrent strokes.

Three Most common Cholesterol-Lowering Medications

  • Statins: Atorvastatin (Lipitor), Rosuvastatin (Crestor)
  • Nicotinic Acids: Lovastatin (Advicor)
  • Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitors: Ezetimibe/Simvastatin (Vytorin)

How do Cholesterol Lowering Medications Work?

The most commonly prescribed cholesterol lowering medications are statins, which are the most effective at lowering LDL numbers in the majority of patients. Statins directly affect the liver, intestines, and vascular system, so doctors are careful to monitor how these bodily systems function while you are taking statin drugs.

Doctors only prescribe Nicotine acids and cholesterol absorption inhibitors for patients who aren’t responding to statins, or who suffer from severe and serious side effects as a result of statin therapy

Why Your Doctor Might Prescribe Them

To lower elevated LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol and prevent cardiovascular disease.

Conditions Treated by Statins and other Cholesterol Medications

These prescriptions are pretty specific to their treatment of cholesterol.  However, recent studies show they reduce inflammation throughout the body, so their use may expand to other illnesses.  They are also being researched and may have a future role reducing certain types of cancer.

Time Frame: How soon will a doctor prescribe statins?

Upon diagnosis of an LDL cholesterol level over 80, your doctor is usually reaching for the script pad.

Cholesterol Medications and Life Insurance
Cholesterol medications of the statin variety are very common and should not concern you when you apply for life insurance.  They are rarely a factor in the life insurance underwriter’s decision.

Regularly taking the medication however, IS a factor in the underwriter’s decision. So if you have been prescribed cholesterol medications, take them like clockwork.

Can you qualify for a No-Exam policy? Yes.

Best Case Scenario: Preferred

Worst Case Scenario: Standard to Moderate Substandard rates

Antiplatelet Agents (APA) and Dual Antiplatelet Therapy Drugs (DAPT)

  • Aspirin
  • Clopidogrel (Plavix)
  • Dipyridamole
  • Prasugrel (Effient)
  • Ticagrelor (Brilinta)

What do antiplatelet agents do?

APAs and DAPTs keep blood from forming clots by preventing platelets in your blood from bonding with each other.

Why Your Doctor Might Prescribe Them

What are the Conditions Treated by APAs and DAPTs

Time Frame for Prescribing Antiplatelet Medications

  • Immediately After a heart attack
  • If you are showing signs of arteriosclerosis (“hardening of the arteries”)
  • When your veins and arteries are beginning to accumulate plaque
  • As part of an extended treatment plan after a heart attack or cardiac surgery to treat or correct a cardiac condition.
  • After angioplasty and up to 12 months after stent placement

Antiplatelet Medications and Life Insurance
Antiplatelet medications and DAPTs will have a significant impact on your life insurance application due to the heart conditions they represent.

They factor in the life insurance underwriter’s decision, specifically the length of time you have been on the medication and how regularly you have been taking it.

Aspirin therapy is usually not a consideration in the rating of a life insurance policy.

Can you qualify for a No-Exam policy? Sometimes

Best Case Scenario: Preferred if on preventative Aspirin therapy

Worst Case Scenario: Mild to Moderate Substandard Rates, Decline / Postponed Application if there was little followup.

Digoxin and Cardiac Glycosides

  • Digox
  • Lanoxin
  • Digitalis Preperations

What does Digoxin Do?

Digoxin comes from the leaves of the digitalis plant or Foxglove.  Digoxin increases the force of each contraction your heart makes by increasing your heart muscles’ calcium level. This can be extremely useful in the event of heart failure or treating irregular heartbeats.

Why Your Doctor Might Prescribe Lanoxin

Conditions Treated by Digoxin

Time Frame for Prescribing These Drugs

  • In the event of heart failure
  • Upon diagnosis of certain types of arrhythmia

Digoxin / Lanoxin and Life Insurance
Digoxin will significantly impact a life insurance application due to the heart failure it is often used to treat.

Lanoxin is only used for cardiac arrhythmia after other drug regimens have failed.  This suggests a worsening condition.

Regularly taking the medication however, IS a factor in the underwriter’s decision. So if you have been prescribed Lanoxin, take it like clockwork.

Can you qualify for a No-Exam policy? Usually No.

Best Case Scenario: Mild Substandard Rates

Worst Case Scenario: Moderate Substandard Rates to Postponed / Declined Application

Nitrates, Nitroglycerin (Vasodilators)

  • Isosorbide dinitrate (Isordil)
  • Nesiritide (Natrecor)
  • Hydralazine (Apresoline)
  • Nitrates
  • Minoxidil
  • Nitro-Dur
  • Nitrolingual

What Do Vasodilators Do?

Vasodilators relax the muscles in the walls of your blood vessels and increases your heart’s blood and oxygen supply.  This reduces strain on your heart and allows blood to flow freely through the circulatory system.

Vasodilators come in pill form, chewable tablet form, spray form and a topical cream.

Why Your Doctor Might Prescribe Nitrates or Nitroglycerin

  • To relieve short or long term symptoms of angina (chest pain)
  • Treatment of very high blood pressure (in the case of minoxidil)

Conditions Treated by These Nitrates

  • Angina
  • Stage 2 hypertension or severe high blood pressure that does not respond to ACE inhibitors

Time Frame for Prescribing These Drugs

  • Upon diagnosis of moderate to severe angina
  • After high blood pressure therapy has failed using ACE Inhibitors / ARBs and other multi-drug regimens

Nitrates and Life Insurance
Nitrates will significantly impact a life insurance application due to the angina or severe high blood pressure they are used to treat.

Recent nitroglycerine use for congestive heart failure will usually result in postponement until 12 months of heart stability.

Can you qualify for a No-Exam policy? No

Best Case Scenario: Moderate Substandard Rates

Worst Case Scenario: Application Postponed / Denied

These heart medications usually breeze through underwriting

Anticoagulants, blood thinners, cholesterol medications, statins, ACE inhibitors, ARBs, beta blockers, aspirin and diuretics do not affect most life insurance applications in a negative way.  Millions of citizens are taking these prescriptions daily and a life insurance underwriter is unlikely to pause.

Will this be a slam dunk case like a healthy 20-year old on no medications?  No.  It will take some work, however you already knew that.  Rest assured that if anything hangs up an application, it will not be of the pharmaceutical variety.

These heart medications usually slow down a life insurance application

Antiplatelet agents other than aspirin, digoxin, lanoxin, nitrates, nitroglycerin or any uncommon medications tend to raise an eyebrow from the underwriters.

How do we counter this?  We use full up front documentation ahead of time, a strong cover letter, and a strong argument about your case management.

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The Final Word on Heart Prescriptions and Life Insurance

Prescription drugs are just one peice of the puzzle, just one gear turning in your healthy machine. The absolutely, positively most important thing you can do is to see your doctor regularly and take the prescriptions you have been prescribed.

We have life insurance approvals at great rates, even for clients who have been through some scary heart attacks because they followed their doctors orders.

If you want a surefire way to deny your life insurance application, avoid your doctor and stop taking your medicine.

The ostrich who sticks its “head in the sand” is asking for serious complications, a shorter life span, less time with their family and very little chance at quality life insurance rates.

 

How to get the best rates for life insurance while taking prescription medication

  1. Fill out the quote form.  When picking a health class, click “Standard.”
  2. Gather your prescription medications and have the bottles handy.
  3. Prepare a timeline for your heart condition.
    1. When did you start feeling symptoms of heart trouble?  We don’t need an exact date here, but what month / year?
    2. At what point did you go to the doctor?
    3. What was the diagnosis and outcome?
    4. Did you see a specialist or have a heart procedure?  Who did you see?  When?
    5. Have you made any life style changes since the diagnosis?
  4. Get our underwriting experts involved.  Seriously.  There is no reason to go it alone here, we have the expertise to guarantee the best outcomes in the life insurance industry.
  5. Get our underwriting experts involved.  We literally do this every single day.
  6. Get our underwriting experts involved.  Without a strong argument for case management, you could be declined.
  7. Get our underwriting experts involved and rest easy knowing you have a specialist in your corner who understands your heart disease.

Do this.  Do this for your family.  Take the first step now.

“Your time is limited, don’t waste it … Most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become.

Everything else is secondary.”

Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple. Stanford University Commencement, 2005

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