Heart failure continues to be a major public health problem in the United States, leading to significant morbidity and mortality. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has found that the age-adjusted rate for heart failure-related deaths has actually increased from 2012 through 2014. This disease increase can cause an increased burden to both the individuals affected and their insurance carriers.

There is a laboratory test called NT-proBNP (N-terminal fragment of the pro-hormone B-type natriuretic peptide) that can identify an applicant’s risk of heart failure or left ventricular dysfunction.

NT-proBNP is an endogenously produced neurohormone primarily secreted from the cardiac ventricular myocytes in response to cardiac stress. Clinically, measurements of NT-proBNP are now used in the diagnosis of left ventricular (LV) systolic and diastolic dysfunction (cardiac stretch/stress) and prognostically in a variety of cardiac disease states, including heart failure (HF), acute coronary syndrome (ACS), stable coronary artery disease (CAD) and chronic stable angina pectoris. All of these are FDA-approved indications for clinical use. As a highly sensitive marker for cardiac dysfunction, elevated NT-proBNP levels indicate the presence of an underlying cardiac disorder. A normal serum NT-proBNP level virtually excludes cardiac dysfunction. More importantly, NT-proBNP is an independent marker of long-term morbidity and mortality.

To learn more about NT-proBNP and what it means for underwriting in the life insurance industry, click here.


Don’t fall victim to sleepless nights

by ExamOne on October 31, 2015

ladysleepingOn Sunday, November 1st, we will “fall back” as daylight savings time comes to an end, and people across the country set their clocks back one hour and gain an hour of sleep. Nights get darker earlier, but are you getting enough sleep to match the longer nights?

Currently, 40 million Americans suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders every year, with 20 million Americans experiencing occasional sleeping problems.[i] But a lack of sleep is just the tip of the iceberg—often sleep disorders are linked to insomnia and other various health conditions. Insomnia itself has a number of causes prevalent in many Americans:[ii]

  • Sleep Apnea or other sleeping disorders
  • Eating/drinking habits
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Depression
  • Shift working
  • Frequent flyers
  • Medical illnesses causing pain

Additionally, long-term effects of sleep deprivation can contribute to the onset of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, obesity, cancer and psychiatric disorders such as depression. While a single laboratory test cannot detect if an applicant is lacking sleep, using standard testing can help identify some of the above health conditions – encouraging the applicant to assess their lifestyle habits. Incorporating Hemoglobin A1c into your testing profile can help identify hidden diabetes or pre-diabetes and screening older ages with NT-proBNP can highlight risk for congestive heart failure or other coronary diseases.

Some of these can’t be controlled through medication, but it is important to create healthy sleeping habits if possible. If you struggle with insomnia or getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis, there are options to help you. The National Sleep Foundation recommends taking the following steps[iii] to ensure a good night’s sleep:

  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule — waking up and going to bed at the same times
  • Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual
  • Avoid naps, especially in the afternoon
  • Exercise daily
  • Make your room an ideal sleeping environment.
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows
  • Use light to help manage circadian rhythms –avoid bright light in the evenings and expose yourself to sunlight in the morning
  • Avoid alcohol, heavy meals, and cigarettes in the evening
  • Spend the last hour before bed doing a calm activity, and avoid electronics before sleeping
  • If you do have insomnia, go into a different room and do something relaxing until you feel drowsy

So as you set your clocks back on November 1, use it as a reminder to assess your lifestyle and sleeping habits to ensure you are getting the best sleep you can for a productive day!



[i] http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brain_basics/understanding_sleep.htm

[ii] https://sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/content/what-causes-insomnia

[iii] https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-tools-tips/healthy-sleep-tips

NT-proBNP test growing in popularity as screening tool

October 14, 2013 Carriers

In a country where the older population (persons 65 years or older) is growing, we are seeing an increased number of cases of cardiac stress and various heart diseases. The Administration of Aging (AOA) has released data stating the elderly in the U.S. numbered 39.6 million in 2009. They represented 12.9% of the U.S. population, […]

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