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Life Insurance, Patent Ductus Arteriosus, Frequently Asked Questions

Obtaining life insurance is an important step in ensuring financial security for your loved ones. However, individuals with certain health conditions may find it challenging to secure life insurance coverage. One such condition is Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA), a congenital heart defect that affects the ductus arteriosus, a blood vessel in the heart.

In this article, we will explore the challenges individuals with PDA face when applying for life insurance and provide insights on how to improve your chances of obtaining life insurance coverage.

Understanding Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

The ductus arteriosus is a fetal blood vessel that connects the pulmonary artery and the aorta, allowing blood to bypass the lungs since oxygenation occurs through the placenta during fetal development. In a healthy newborn, the ductus arteriosus closes shortly after birth. However, in cases of PDA, the closure does not occur, resulting in abnormal blood flow between the two major blood vessels.


The exact cause of PDA is not always clear. However, certain risk factors may contribute to its development. Premature infants are more likely to have PDA compared to full-term babies. Genetic factors and certain maternal conditions, such as rubella infection during pregnancy, can also increase the risk of PDA in newborns.


The severity of symptoms can vary depending on the size of the ductus arteriosus and the amount of blood flow through it. Small PDAs may not cause noticeable symptoms and can sometimes close on their own. However, larger PDAs can lead to the following symptoms:

  1. Heart murmur: A characteristic sound produced by the abnormal blood flow through the PDA, which can be detected during a physical examination.
  2. Poor weight gain: Infants with larger PDAs may have difficulty gaining weight due to increased work on the heart.
  3. Rapid breathing: Increased blood flow to the lungs can cause rapid or labored breathing.
  4. Fatigue and weakness: Infants may appear tired or have reduced energy levels.
  5. Respiratory infections: Frequent respiratory infections may occur due to increased blood flow to the lungs.


The treatment options for PDA depend on several factors, including the size of the ductus arteriosus, the severity of symptoms, and the age of the patient. Treatment strategies include:

  1. Watchful waiting: In cases of small PDAs with minimal or no symptoms, doctors may choose to monitor the condition and wait to see if the ductus arteriosus closes on its own as the child grows.
  2. Medication: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as indomethacin or ibuprofen, may be prescribed to promote closure of the PDA. These medications help to reduce the production of prostaglandins, which keep the ductus arteriosus open.
  3. Catheter-based procedures: In certain cases, a minimally invasive procedure known as cardiac catheterization may be performed. During this procedure, a thin tube is inserted into a blood vessel and guided to the heart to place a device or plug that blocks the abnormal blood flow through the PDA, allowing it to close.
  4. Surgical repair: For larger PDAs or cases where other treatment options are not feasible, open-heart surgery may be necessary. Surgeons will close the PDA using stitches or a patch, restoring normal blood flow.

Worst-Case Scenario:

If left untreated, a significant PDA can lead to serious complications. The continuous abnormal blood flow can cause strain on the heart and lead to conditions such as:

  1. Heart failure: Over time, the increased workload on the heart can weaken the heart muscle, leading to heart failure.
  2. Pulmonary hypertension: The abnormal blood flow to the lungs can elevate blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries, leading to pulmonary hypertension. This condition can further strain the heart and affect its ability to pump blood effectively.

It’s crucial to seek medical attention if you suspect your child or yourself may have PDA or if you notice any symptoms associated with the condition. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can help prevent complications and improve outcomes.

Impact on One’s Life Insurance Application

When applying for life insurance coverage with a history of Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA), the approval process and potential outcomes can vary depending on the severity of the condition, associated complications, and treatment history. Here’s an overview of how PDA can affect your life insurance application:

  • Mild Cases and Successful Treatment: For individuals with mild PDA cases that have been successfully treated or closed, the impact on life insurance applications is generally minimal. In these cases, applicants may qualify for a substandard or table rate, which means they may be approved for coverage but at a higher premium due to the increased risk associated with the PDA history. The specific rate offered will depend on other factors such as overall health, age, lifestyle choices, and the insurance company’s underwriting guidelines.
  • Moderate to Severe Complications: In cases where PDA has resulted in moderate to severe complications or ongoing health issues, the life insurance application process becomes more complex. Insurance providers will assess the severity of the complications, the overall impact on health, and the potential risks associated with the condition.

Case-by-Case Review:

Applications from individuals with moderate to severe complications of PDA will typically undergo a thorough case-by-case review by the insurance company’s underwriters. This review will consider factors such as the individual’s current health status, medical records, treatment history, follow-up care, and any associated conditions or comorbidities.

Potential Denial:

In some instances, life insurance applications from individuals with significant complications related to PDA may be denied. Insurance companies may consider the risk too high to offer coverage at affordable rates or may be concerned about the potential for future health complications.

Importance of Full Disclosure: Regardless of the severity of the PDA or associated complications, it is crucial to provide accurate and comprehensive information about your medical history during the life insurance application process. Failing to disclose or providing misleading information about your PDA can have serious consequences, including policy cancellation or denial of claims in the future.

Factors that will be considered

When assessing a life insurance application from an individual with a history of Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) or related complications, several factors will be considered by insurance providers. These factors help them evaluate the level of risk associated with the condition and determine the premium rates or eligibility for coverage. Here are some key factors that insurers typically consider:

  • Severity of the Condition: The severity of PDA plays a significant role in the assessment. Insurance companies will evaluate whether the PDA is mild, moderate, or severe, as well as the presence of associated complications.
  • Treatment History: The treatment history and outcomes of PDA are crucial. Insurers will review the medical records to determine the type of treatment received, such as medication, catheter-based procedures, or surgical repair. Successful closure of the PDA is generally viewed more favorably.
  • Current Health Status: The applicant’s overall health status will be evaluated, including any ongoing symptoms, complications, or comorbidities associated with PDA. Medical records and recent check-ups will be assessed to gauge the impact of the condition on the individual’s well-being.
  • Follow-up Care and Compliance: Consistent follow-up care and compliance with medical advice and treatments are essential. Insurance companies want to see that the applicant is actively managing their condition and taking steps to minimize potential health risks.
  • Time Since Treatment: The duration since the closure of PDA or completion of treatment is considered. In general, the longer the time since treatment without significant complications, the more favorable the assessment.
  • Overall Health and Lifestyle Factors: Insurers will also evaluate other health and lifestyle factors that can impact mortality risk, such as age, body mass index (BMI), tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and any other pre-existing medical conditions or medications.
  • Medical Records and Specialist Opinions: Thorough review of medical records, including diagnostic tests, surgical reports, and specialist opinions, is essential. Insurance underwriters may consult with specialized underwriters or medical professionals to assess the applicant’s specific case.
  • Insurance Company’s Underwriting Guidelines: Each insurance company has its own underwriting guidelines and risk assessment criteria. These guidelines determine the insurer’s willingness to provide coverage and the premium rates they offer. Some companies may be more lenient towards PDA cases, while others may be more conservative.

It’s important to note that the weight given to each factor may vary between insurance companies. Therefore, working with an experienced insurance agent or broker who has expertise in high-risk cases and knowledge of multiple insurance providers can be beneficial. They can help identify insurers who are more likely to offer coverage based on your specific circumstances and guide you through the application process.

Remember, the assessment of a life insurance application with PDA is highly individualized, and outcomes may differ based on the unique combination of factors present in each case.

Tips to Improve Life Insurance Approval Chances with PDA

While obtaining life insurance with PDA may present challenges, there are several steps you can take to improve your chances of approval:

  • Work with an experienced agent: Collaborate with an insurance agent who specializes in high-risk cases and has experience dealing with individuals with PDA. They can guide you through the application process, helping you find insurers that are more likely to offer coverage based on your specific circumstances.
  • Provide comprehensive medical records: Ensure that you gather all relevant medical records related to your PDA diagnosis, treatments, and follow-ups. These records will provide insurers with a clear understanding of your condition, its management, and overall health status.
  • Maintain regular follow-ups: Consistent medical follow-ups and adherence to prescribed treatments showcase your commitment to managing your PDA. This can help alleviate concerns insurance providers may have and demonstrate your dedication to maintaining good health.
  • Consider a graded benefit policy: If traditional life insurance policies are not accessible due to your PDA, explore alternative options such as graded benefit policies. These policies offer coverage with a limited death benefit during an initial waiting period, which can provide financial protection for your loved ones.
  • Seeking Professional Assistance: Navigating the life insurance application process with PDA can be complex. Seeking assistance from a knowledgeable insurance professional can significantly simplify the process. They can help you find insurance companies that specialize in covering individuals with pre-existing conditions like PDA and provide guidance on optimizing your application.


While obtaining life insurance coverage with Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) may present challenges, it is not impossible. By understanding the impact of PDA on the life insurance approval process and taking proactive steps to improve your chances, you can secure coverage that protects your loved ones financially.

Remember to work with an experienced insurance agent, provide comprehensive medical records, maintain regular follow-ups, and consider alternative options such as graded benefit policies. By following these guidelines, individuals with PDA can increase their chances of obtaining life insurance coverage that meets their needs.