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Life Insurance, Pericarditis, Frequently Asked Questions

Securing life insurance is an important financial decision that provides peace of mind for individuals and their loved ones. However, navigating the life insurance application process can be complex, especially for those with pre-existing medical conditions. One such condition is pericarditis, an inflammation of the pericardium, the protective sac surrounding the heart. In this article, we will explore the challenges individuals with pericarditis may face when applying for life insurance and discuss strategies to increase the chances of approval.

Understanding Pericarditis

Pericarditis is defined as the inflammation of the pericardium, which is the protective membrane surrounding the heart. The pericardium consists of two layers: the inner layer, called the visceral pericardium, and the outer layer, known as the parietal pericardium. The space between these layers contains a small amount of fluid that lubricates the heart’s movement during each heartbeat.


Pericarditis can have various causes, including:

  • Viral Infections: Viruses, such as the common cold virus or the flu, can lead to pericarditis. Coxsackievirus and echovirus are common culprits.
  • Bacterial Infections: Bacterial infections, such as tuberculosis or pneumonia, can also cause pericarditis. These cases are less common but can be more severe.
  • Autoimmune Disorders: Conditions like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or inflammatory bowel disease can trigger pericarditis due to an autoimmune response.
  • Medications: Certain medications, such as procainamide (an antiarrhythmic drug) or hydralazine (used to treat hypertension), have been associated with pericarditis as a side effect.
  • Heart Attack: Pericarditis can develop after a heart attack due to the inflammation spreading to the pericardium.
  • Other Causes: Trauma, radiation therapy, kidney failure, cancer, and certain metabolic disorders can also contribute to pericarditis.


The primary symptom of pericarditis is chest pain, which is often sharp and may radiate to the neck, shoulder, or back. Other common symptoms include:

  • Shortness of Breath: Difficulty breathing, especially when lying down or during physical activity.
  • Fatigue: Feeling excessively tired or weak.
  • Fever: A low-grade fever may be present, especially in cases caused by infections.
  • Dry Cough: Some individuals may experience a persistent, dry cough.
  • Heart Palpitations: Sensations of a rapid or irregular heartbeat.
  • Swelling: Swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet may occur in severe cases due to fluid accumulation.

It’s important to note that the severity and combination of symptoms can vary significantly from person to person.


Treatment for pericarditis depends on the underlying cause and the severity of symptoms. Here are some common approaches:

  • Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or aspirin, are often prescribed to reduce inflammation and manage pain. In some cases, colchicine or corticosteroids may be recommended.
  • Rest: Adequate rest can help alleviate symptoms and promote healing. Physical activity may need to be limited until the condition improves.
  • Fluid Drainage: In severe cases, excessive fluid buildup in the pericardium may require drainage through a procedure called pericardiocentesis.
  • Treat Underlying Causes: If pericarditis is secondary to an infection or an autoimmune disorder, treating the underlying condition is crucial for long-term management.

Worst-Case Scenario:

While pericarditis is typically a self-limiting condition that resolves with appropriate treatment, there are rare instances where complications can arise. It’s important to note that these cases are not common but can occur in severe or untreated situations. The worst-case scenarios associated with pericarditis include:

  • Pericardial Effusion: Pericardial effusion refers to the accumulation of excess fluid in the pericardial space. This can lead to increased pressure on the heart, causing it to function less efficiently. In severe cases, the excess fluid may compress the heart, leading to cardiac tamponade, a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical intervention.
  • Constrictive Pericarditis: Constrictive pericarditis occurs when the pericardium becomes thickened and scarred, losing its elasticity. This condition restricts the heart’s ability to expand and fill with blood properly, leading to impaired cardiac function. Constrictive pericarditis often requires surgical intervention to remove or repair the affected pericardium.
  • Recurrent or Chronic Pericarditis: While most cases of pericarditis resolve with appropriate treatment, some individuals may experience recurrent episodes or develop chronic pericarditis. Chronic pericarditis is defined as persistent inflammation lasting more than three months. It can cause ongoing symptoms and may require long-term management and treatment.

It’s crucial to seek medical attention if you experience severe chest pain, difficulty breathing, or any concerning symptoms associated with pericarditis. Timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment can help prevent complications and improve outcomes.

The Impact of Pericarditis on Life Insurance Applications

Pericarditis can have a significant impact on life insurance applications, particularly for individuals who have experienced moderate to severe complications or have underlying health conditions. Life insurance companies assess risk when considering applications, and the presence of pericarditis can increase the perceived risk associated with an applicant.

When resolved and with no significant pre-existing medical conditions, applicants may be able to qualify for a preferred rate, which is the best rate offered by the insurance company. This is typically the case for individuals who have experienced a single episode of pericarditis and have no underlying health conditions that could lead to complications.

However, if moderate or severe complications exist, or if the individual has underlying health conditions that increase their risk, life insurance applications will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, applicants may be denied traditional coverage, particularly if the condition is deemed a significant risk factor for the insurance company.

Some of the factors that life insurance companies consider when reviewing applications from individuals with pericarditis include:

  • Severity and Frequency of Pericarditis Episodes: Life insurance companies may consider how severe the individual’s pericarditis was and how frequently they have experienced episodes. Applicants who have had multiple episodes or severe complications may be considered a higher risk and may face higher premiums or be denied coverage.
  • Underlying Health Conditions: The presence of underlying health conditions can increase the risk associated with pericarditis. Individuals with autoimmune disorders or a history of heart disease may be considered higher risk by life insurance companies, leading to higher premiums or coverage denials.
  • Treatment and Management: The type of treatment and management used to control pericarditis can also impact an applicant’s insurability. Individuals who require ongoing medication or have undergone invasive procedures may face higher premiums or coverage denials.
  • Time Since Last Episode: Life insurance companies may also consider how much time has passed since the individual’s last episode of pericarditis. If it has been several years since the last episode, the individual may be considered lower risk and may qualify for standard rates.

It’s essential to be upfront and honest about any medical conditions when applying for life insurance. Failure to disclose pre-existing conditions can result in denied claims or policy cancellations. Additionally, it’s important to work with an experienced life insurance agent who can help navigate the application process and find the best policy for your unique situation.

In some cases, individuals with pericarditis may need to seek coverage through a high-risk life insurance company or pursue alternative coverage options, such as accidental death and dismemberment policies.

Strategies to Increase Approval Chances

Despite the challenges, it is still possible to obtain life insurance coverage with pericarditis. Here are some strategies to increase the chances of approval:

  1. Choose the Right Insurance Company: Different insurance companies have varying underwriting guidelines and policies regarding pre-existing conditions. Research and choose an insurance provider that has a favorable stance towards pericarditis or other heart-related conditions.
  2. Provide Detailed Medical Information: When applying for life insurance, it is crucial to provide comprehensive medical records and documentation. This includes details about the diagnosis, treatment, and management of pericarditis, as well as any lifestyle changes made to mitigate the risks associated with the condition.
  3. Work with an Experienced Broker: Engaging the services of an experienced insurance broker can significantly enhance your chances of finding the right life insurance policy. A broker can guide you through the application process, advocate on your behalf, and help you find insurers who specialize in covering individuals with pre-existing conditions like pericarditis.
  4. Consider Guaranteed Issue or Accidental Death Policies: If you face significant challenges in obtaining traditional life insurance coverage, guaranteed issue or accidental death policies can be viable alternatives. These policies have simpler application processes and may not require medical exams or extensive underwriting, but they often come with higher premiums.


While pericarditis can present challenges when applying for life insurance, it should not discourage individuals from seeking coverage. By understanding the impact of pericarditis on insurance applications and implementing the strategies discussed in this article, individuals with pericarditis can enhance their chances of obtaining life insurance

coverage. It’s important to remember that every individual’s situation is unique, and the approval process may vary depending on the insurance provider and the severity of the condition.

Lastly, it’s essential to remain patient and persistent throughout the application process. Receiving life insurance approval with a pre-existing condition like pericarditis may require additional time and effort, but the peace of mind that comes with having financial protection for your loved ones is well worth it.