All-Cause Mortality for Life Insurance Applicants with the Presence of Bundle Branch Block

Stephen A Freitas, Ross MacKenzie, David N Wylde, Jason Von Bergen, J Carl Holowaty, Margaret Beckman, Steven J Rigatti, Daniel Zamarripa, Stacy Gill
Journal of Insurance Medicine 2019 June 20
Objective.- To determine the all-cause mortality of life insurance applicants who have a bundle branch block. Background.- Bundle branch block is an electrocardiographic pattern that has variable prognostic implications. Research studies have shown that both left and right bundle branch block are associated with increased mortality among cases that have heart disease. In the general population and life insurance applicant population, the prevalence of bundle branch block is relatively low, and its effects on long-term prognosis are not as well established. Methodology.- Life insurance applicants with reported bundle branch block were extracted from data covering United States residents between October 2009 and October 2016. Information about these applicants was matched to the Social Security Death Master (SSDMF) file for deaths occurring from 2009 to 2012 and to another commercially available death source file (Other Death Source, ODS) for deaths occurring from 2009 to 2016 to determine vital status. Actual to expected (A/E) mortality ratios were calculated using the Society of Actuaries 2015 Valuation Basic Table (2015VBT), select and ultimate table (age last birthday). All expected bases were not smoker distinct. Confidence bands around these mortality ratios were calculated. The variables of interest were applicant age, gender, location of the bundle branch block, and the presence of cardiac or cardiovascular conditions. Results.- There were 258,529.85 person-years exposure for applicants with bundle branch block. Of the applicants, 57.2% had right bundle branch block. Of person-years exposure, 11.5% had a cardiac condition along with the bundle branch block, and 4.4% had an underlying cardiovascular condition. Female mortality ratios were higher than those for males, but due to the low number of deaths, this difference was not significant. Left bundle branch block mortality ratios (1.01) were 1.4 times higher than those with right (0.74). Those applicants with a cardiac condition along with their bundle branch block had between 1.6 to 1.8 times the mortality ratio depending on the bundle branch block location, and those with a cardiovascular condition had between 1.5 to 1.7 times the mortality ratio over those applicants with just bundle branch block alone. Conclusion.- The presence of bundle branch block in an insurance applicant may be associated with increased all-cause mortality. In this study, life insurance applicants overall had a mortality slightly lower than the expected mortality based on the 2015 VBT. However, applicants with bundle branch block and a cardiac or cardiovascular comorbid condition had a significantly higher mortality ratio.


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