Heart Attacks and Trauma Insurance Claims

Published: July 28, 2013

Trauma insurance was originally created for people suffering from serious medical events like heart attack. Over the years trauma insurance claims on a heart attack in Australia have been second only to cancer.

Incidence rates for 2009 show us that 95 per cent of trauma insurance claims fit within the top four traumas including cancer, heart attack, stroke and heart bypass surgery. Heart attacks comprising 23 per cent of this amount (1).

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) uses the following to define a heart attack: “The heart itself gets oxygen and nutrients through blood vessels called the coronary arteries. When the blood flow to the heart is cut off, the decrease in the supply of oxygen and nutrients can cause lasting damage to this vital organ. When the blockage is sudden, it is called a heart attack”. (2)

Causes and risk factors of a heart attack

As a critical illness, heart attacks have several causes and underlying risk factors, including:

  • The build-up of fatty plaques on the inner lining of the coronary arteries, called ‘atherosclerosis’
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Raised cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • A family history of heart disease
  • Gender: Men have a relatively greater predisposition to heart disease.
  • Obesity

Fortunately, most of the aforementioned risk factors are modifiable, meaning that an individual can take certain actions to reduce the likelihood of suffering a heart attack.

Which symptoms are associated with a heart attack?

A heart attack symptoms may be reported as:

  • Severe, persisting chest pain which may radiate into the left arm and the neck or jaw
  • Stomach (abdominal) pain, nausea, and vomiting
  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Sweating including ‘cold sweats’ and paleness,
  • Unexplained anxiety
  • Weakness, fatigue, feeling light-headed or dizzy
  • Palpitations or an abnormal heart rate.

In certain cases, an individual will suffer an attack yet experience very mild or no heart attack symptoms at all, with such an event typically reflecting a ‘silent’ heart attack.

The initial medical evaluation of a suspected heart attack patient typically involves the attending doctor (or a paramedic if transported by ambulance) performing a physical examination, including listening for ‘heart sounds’ using a stethoscope and checking blood pressure.

An electrocardiogram (ECG) will be performed at least once and likely repeated over several hours following admission to hospital.

Other relevant tests and investigations include:

  • Blood tests (for example, troponins or cardiac enzymes such as CK-MB, however, CK-MB tests are rarely performed )
  • Coronary angiography,
  • Computerised tomography (CT) scans,
  • Echocardiography and
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

What do the statistics tell us about heart attacks?

According to a recent report (3) by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), during an average day in Australia 135 Australians aged 40-90 years suffer a heart attack, 50 die as a result (85 survive the initial episode).

People suffering heart attacks appear to have experienced increasingly better survival odds in recent years (3).

More than three out of five patients aged 40-90 years survived a heart attack in 2007 whereas less than half of all cases survived 10 years earlier.

Heart attacks are the second leading cause of trauma insurance claims

In 2009, heart attacks represented the second leading cause of trauma insurance claims paid. Accordingly, it is vital that you have thorough understanding of this critical illness and relevant trauma benefit definitions outlined in your PDS.

If you are not sure if your policy adequately covers you for heart attack, or if you have previously suffered a heart attack and have found it difficult to get appropriate trauma insurance coverage, fill in the form above and we’ll compare trauma insurance quotes and help you find a policy which offers appropriate coverage.

1. CommInsure Claims for 2009
2. World Health Organisation (WHO) 2005, Avoiding Heart Attacks & Strokes, www.who.int/cardiovascular_diseases/resources/cvd_report.pdf accessed September 2010
3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2010. Australia’s health 2010. Australia’s health series no. 12. Cat. no. AUS 122. Canberra: AIHW.

Source: CommInsure 2010

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