Every February, American Heart Month raises awareness about the importance of heart health and preventing heart disease. Even small lifestyle changes can have a substantial impact. For those who have been diagnosed, as well as those at risk, one key factor to consider is stress.
A recent study from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology revealed that nearly half of non-elderly adults with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (the leading cause of coronary artery disease) report financial stress and hardship due to illness-related costs – and roughly one in five is unable to pay their medical bills.
Heart Failure Awareness Week: Financial stress and coronary artery disease
Within American Heart Month, there’s also an effort to raise awareness specifically about heart failure, including preventative measures and strategies to manage the condition. The week of Valentine’s Day is Heart Failure Awareness Week. This seven-day period aims to educate Americans about the dangers of heart failure and its root cause – coronary artery disease (CAD).
“Heart disease describes a range of conditions that affect your heart,” explains the Mayo Clinic. One of these conditions is CAD, which occurs “when the major blood vessels that supply your heart with blood, oxygen and nutrients (coronary arteries) become damaged or diseased.”
CAD is the most common heart disease in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease affects nearly 20 million Americans over the age of 20 — about seven percent of the population.
Heart blockage symptoms that you should watch out for include chest pain, tightness, or pressure; shortness of breath; pain or numbness in your arms or legs; and pain in the neck, jaw or throat, according to the Mayo Clinic. CAD risk factors include obesity, lack of exercise, unhealthy diet, a family history of heart disease, and stress.
How does stress affect the heart and blood vessels?
A growing body of research has linked stress to heart problems. “Stress may affect behaviors and factors that increase heart disease risk: high blood pressure and cholesterol levels,” explains the American Heart Association.
Stress can also encourage behavior that endangers heart health, like overeating, smoking, and drinking. These habits may cause an increase in blood pressure and damage artery walls.
Fortunately, there’s also a rich body of research into how you can manage your stress — and, as a result, mitigate heart disease risks. Harvard Medical School recommends a five-step program: stay positive, meditate, exercise, unplug, and seek soothing activities, like a warm bath or relaxing playlist. Similarly, the American Heart Association has published an entire catalogue of stress management techniques.
Financial assistance for coronary artery disease treatment
Receiving a CAD diagnosis is difficult. Patients often have to rethink their everyday lifestyle, from their diet and exercise to how new treatment plans will fit in.
Patients must also face the financial costs associated with CAD. Treatment for clogged or blocked arteries can entail surgery and stents — and even with quality health insurance, the price of these procedures often adds up quickly. The cost to treat heart disease can reach $20,000 or more per patient, according to research in the American Journal of Managed Care.
Fortunately, there are financial assistance options for CAD patients. One option that patients may not be aware of is leveraging their life insurance policy. Resources like Fifth Season Financial’s Funds for Living Program can advance patients a portion of their life insurance policy, providing much-needed funds to cover CAD treatments, related bills, or any other expenses with no restriction.
The Funds For Living program also has additional benefits. Fifth Season Financial offers clients further financial relief by taking over all future premium payments. In more than 90 percent of cases, funds remain in the policy to pass on to beneficiaries. Take the time to get heart-smart by learning about coronary heart disease causes – as well as how to manage your finances should you receive a diagnosis. Contact Fifth Season Financial to learn more about the Funds For Living Program today at (866) 459-1271 or visit www.fifthseasonfinancial.com/funds-for-living-program/.