What is Cardiac Ailment?
Contrary to popular belief, cardiac or heart ailments extend much beyond the dreaded ‘heart attack’. Just like any other organ of our body, the heart, a delicate conglomerate of muscles and blood vessels, has its set of complicated processes. There can be many types of malfunctioning and infections in this tender organ, all of them collectively being termed as cardiac ailments.
Types of Heart Ailments
Some of the common ailments are listed here:
- Angina (Chest Pain) – It may feel like indigestion, but can be a symptom that can lead to more fatal diseases.
- Coronary heart disease –It occurs due to deposition of plaque in the arteries, restricting blood flow into the heart, starving it of oxygen. If this ruptures, it could lead to heart attack, and many times fatal as well.
- Enlarged Heart (Cardiomegaly) –This is caused by high blood pressure or due to coronary heart disease, by which the heart loses its ability to effectively pump blood and thus leads to a congestive heart attack.
- Heart failure – The heart supplies blood to the rest of the body and a heart failure is a condition in which the heart fails to do its job effectively. This can lead to shortness of breath and swelling of legs.
- Rheumatic heart disease – This is a bacterial infection, often affecting children and affects heart valves and joints.
- Congenital heart disease – This is a defect in heart formation due to birth, like a hole in the heart, which may go undetected for many years.
- Atrial Fibrillation – An irregular heartbeat condition that can lead to a heart attack or a stroke.
- Arrhythmias – Irregular heart rhythm or fluttering of the heart could be a sign of an impending heart disorder
- Heart muscle disease (Cardiomyopathy) – The heart is either enlarged, stiffened, or thickened and thus its muscles lose the ability to pump blood
Some Causes of Heart Disease
The risk factors include:
- Unhealthy blood cholesterol levels
- Insulin resistance
- High blood pressure
- Unhealthy diet
- Low physical activity
- Metabolic syndrome
- Alcohol intake
- Sleep apnea
- Preeclampsia (risk during pregnancy)
The Myth – Heart Disease is Mostly Hereditary
Most of the stories that go around are that the heart diseases are passed down families from generation to generation. That your parents or grandparents had no heart disease does not mean that you are well protected, or vice versa. True that genetics does play an important role in exposing you to the risk of heart ailments, but often, one’s lifestyle and daily habits can also cause more risk for susceptibility to heart disease.
Some studies in the USA show that the main culprit is a lifestyle and not genetic disposition for cardiovascular diseases, which include heart ailments. Most young adults who were in the low-risk heart disease categories ended up in the high-risk categories by the time they reached middle age, due to lifestyle issues with symptoms like high cholesterol, excess weight, and high blood pressure.
We Understand Protecting the Heart, But Have You Thought of Protecting Yourself Financially?
The good news is that even with a high-risk genetic profile for heart disease, one can lower the risks by leading a healthy lifestyle. This is what most doctors can tell you.
Whilst you should adopt a healthy lifestyle for all the right reasons, you should also not take any chances to protect your finances in the unfortunate case of you or your loved ones ever contacting a health ailment. Today’s stressful lifestyle suggests that no matter what age, no matter where, heart disease can affect anyone and often suddenly. And when it does, the treatment can drain one’s monetary resources.
A smart way to protect oneself against such a situation, one should buy a health insurance policy as most health insurers cover major heart ailments amongst others and add a protective cover for the insured.
When you apply for health insurance, do check if there is a comprehensive cover that you can opt for and if it can include all the members of your family as well. The disease does not see age or time; it can come to anybody at any time.
Even if you have suffered from the cardiac ailment, you can apply for health insurance as some policies cover the pre-existing medical history of the heart, although with riders and conditions.
As the medical treatment of critical ailments involves huge expenses, it is advised to go for top-ups and super top-up plans to expand your health coverage. Acting as a Stepney to your existing mediclaim policies, these plans kick in when you exhaust the sum insured limit. A regular mediclaim policy covers hospitalisation expenses up to a certain limit, but top-up and super top-up plans cover you when you cross the threshold limit. While a top-up considers the single claim amount, a super top-up plan mediclaim plan considers the total claims generated in a year. These are good options for people who already have a medical insurance policy or a corporate health cover but want to expand their coverage.
Further, you should go with critical illness plans which are specially designed for critical ailments like heart attack, cancer, etc. Unlike minor illnesses, the treatment in case of critical ailments can majorly affect the finances of a family. Therefore, if you already hold a mediclaim policy, you should create a strong financial buffer by purchasing a critical illness cover. In case you are diagnosed with a critical ailment, a critical illness plan will make a lump sum amount which can be used to pay for the medical treatment, recuperation expenses and even for household expenses. Irrespective of the medical expenses, the insurer pays the full sum insured.
Further, many insurers are having special health covers for people who are already suffering from pre-existing ailments like heart issues, diabetes, hypertension, etc. In addition, you can find such insurance policies which are available for people who have undergone angioplasty or bypass surgery. Not only these plans have a shorter waiting period, but these also come with a lifetime renewal option.
With the rise in financial turmoil, it makes complete sense to have a backup plan to cover critical illnesses. Therefore, besides having health or mediclaim insurance, you should also create an emergency fund which can help you tide over unforeseen events like medical emergencies and temporary unemployment.
Being prepared is being smart, not expecting the worst!