Some life insurance applicants have a history of peripheral vascular disease (PVD) or symptoms of that disease. What should the advisor know about this disease, and how should they proceed with placing the case?
Also referred to as arteriosclerosis obliterans, PVD entails build-up or narrowing of the vascular system due to plaque. Peripheral in this case means the legs and arms. Plaque generally consists of calcium and deposits of cholesterol which cause abnormal development of cells on the inside lining of the arteries. PVD makes blood flow through the arteries difficult.
General onset occurs in those over age 50, and the disease is more commonly seen in men than in women. Therefore, as the current baby boomer population ages, experts predict that the amount of people diagnosed with PVD will grow.
The disease is more common among smokers and those with diabetes and coronary artery disease.
The claudication or restrictive blood flow due to PVD’s narrowing of the arteries eventually causes pain, edema (swelling), changes in the outer skin tissue, numbness and even ulceration. Onset does not generally display as immediate. Rather, its existence progresses with symptoms.
However, many people who actually have the disease do not exhibit symptoms. And, among those who do show symptoms, many may feel their symptoms are simply part of the aging process.
When reviewing a risk for life insurance that presents with PVD, keep in mind there are generally 4 classifications of severity, ranging from insignificant, to mild, moderate and severe.
A case with mild PVD may have some complications from strenuous exercise, such as claudication.
When there are severe symptoms, the disease will progress to skin ulcerations. These are difficult to heal, possibly leading to infection. Eventually, this could result in amputation of a limb.
Many factors can complicate PVD. These include elevated lipids, hypertension, diabetes and smoking. Other contributing factors are vascular disease, arthritis, autoimmune disease, injury and phlebitis. There may also be the co-existence of coronary artery disease, renal disease, stroke or atrial fibrillation.
Treatment of PVD can range from a daily aspirin to pentoxifylline and warfarin. It’s also known that a diet high in folic acid and the use of vitamin B12 reduces the risk of the disease.