One out of four South African women under the age of 60 suffers from a cardiovascular disease making it the leading cause of critical illness-related deaths in women. This can be supported by statistics indicating that heart diseases accounts for one-third of all deaths in women and strokes are linked to more female deaths than male deaths, worldwide.
It is important to understand the difference between a heart attack and a stroke. A heart attack occurs when blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked, usually by obstruction of a coronary heart vessel, and without oxygenated blood, the heart muscle begins to die. A stroke is a ‘brain attack’ – cutting off vital blood flow and oxygen to the brain. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel feeding the brain gets clogged or ruptures.
Cardiovascular diseases or strokes can change a family’s entire ‘infrastructure’ dynamic in an instant, given the important role that women play in any household. “With the misconception that most men suffer from cardiovascular diseases and strokes, women need to take charge of their financial planning by ensuring that they have comprehensive critical illness cover in place for when the unforeseen happens as women often have less cover than men.” Says George Kolbe, Head of Marketing for Momentum Retail Life Insurance
Kolbe also comments that the high reported occurrence of cardiovascular diseases and strokes is supported by Momentum’s 2018 claim statistics. “From the latest claim statistics, it is evident that 27% of all critical illness-related death claims are linked to cardiovascular diseases and strokes for women; and 10% of these claims were for women aged 39 and younger. This effectively indicates that one out of every 10 cardiovascular or stroke-related claims for women is for a woman who is younger than 39 years old.”
Heart attacks and strokes often strike down victims during their productive years. According to a study that was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association namely Circulation, 20% of heart attack victims were 40 years or younger, a rate that has risen 2% per year, for the past 10 years. In addition, the study indicated that people who experience a heart attack in their twenties or thirties were also more at risk of cardiovascular events later in life.
Since Momentum’s 2018 claim statistics indicate that 17% of critical illness claims for women occurred during their thirties, Kolbe stresses the importance of comprehensive risk cover for women at younger ages. “Critical illness benefits allow clients to protect their lifestyle by funding the cost of changes to their lifestyles or additional expenses incurred as a result of a critical illness event. This could include anything from adjusting their homes’ infrastructure to accommodate a wheelchair ramp, to hiring an au pair to look after the children.”
Heart attacks and strokes can be prevented to a large extent. Statistics from the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) indicate that up to 80% of heart diseases and strokes could be prevented through modified behaviour. Choosing to follow a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, maintaining a non-smoking status and avoiding excessive alcohol intake can achieve this.
Kolbe adds that comprehensive critical illness cover is key and Momentum settled the argument of which critical illness benefits offer the most comprehensive cover when they introduced their Breadth of Cover Guarantee™. This world-first innovative feature guarantees cover for any critical illness condition that are covered by the critical illness benefits of other local insurers.
Momentum’s Breadth of Cover Guarantee™ gives clients complete peace of mind that they will receive a pay-out if they contract a qualifying critical illness. This makes the inherent uncertainty of critical illness conditions much more manageable and increases the likelihood of qualifying for a claim based on the most up-to-date claim definitions in the market.