National Heart Month and St Valentine’s Day

February 14th is a day we all associate with images of hearts. I have often wondered about the origins of St. Valentine’s Day.

The Romans celebrated a feast in Rome in mid-February called Lupercalia – it was a rite celebrating purification and health and had only slight connection to fertility (as part of health) and none to love. It necessarily became connected with the coming of Spring and with fertility rites although the legend that men and women drew names from a jar like a lottery, to make couples, and that modern Valentine’s cards originated from this custom, doesn’t seem to have any basis in fact. However, the practice of men drawing the names of girls at random to couple with them did originate in the Middle Ages and was fought against by priests apparently who, around 1600, replaced it with a religious custom of girls drawing the names of apostles from a casket on the altar – much more acceptable!

Ancient sources reveal that there were several St. Valentines who died on Feb. 14. Two of them were executed during the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius Gothicus in 269-270 A.D., at a time when persecution of Christians was common.

Another popular Medieval legend is that Saint Valentine performed clandestine Christian weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry. The Roman Emperor Claudius II supposedly forbade this believing that married men did not make for good soldiers.

The day became associated with romantic love in the 14th and 15th centuries when notions of courtly love flourished spurred on by the ‘lovebirds’ of early spring. But back to the present.

February is National Heart Month. It is designed to make us all aware of heart disease and to encourage us to look our hearts. It emphasises how we can reduce our risk of developing heart disease February through regular exercise, a balanced diet, monitoring blood pressure and maintaining a healthy weight.

Exercise is known to be a way of reducing the risk of developing heart disease, and taking exercise during the pandemic can be a challenge. But it is a challenge that it is important to confront. We previously posted an article about one of our colleagues who is a qualified Nordic Walking instructor and is helping people in her community to get fitter.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is doing a global study on sedentary lifestyle which underwriters will be keeping an eye on in the future.

We know that exercise is key to health mentally and physically but maybe this could have an impact as a risk modifier for life assurance applicants with pre-existing heart problems. Sedentary lifestyle is a commonplace during the lockdown.

The fact that there is so much media attention given to the health of our hearts is a thoroughly good and positive thing. There is less good news, however, concerning the delays to treatment and operations. The BHF describes the latest figures ‘show the seismic impact of the pandemic on potentially life saving surgery and other procedures for heart patients…around a third fewer heart operations than expected were performed by the end of November 2020.

You can see the whole report here.

How is this going to impact on underwriting decisions of applicants who have had surgeries delayed? That is something that is difficult to gauge at present.

But February 14th is a celebratory day and so it is good to be able to flag up some really positive news. In 2020 everyone in England became potential organ donors unless they opt out of the scheme. You can read about ‘Max and Keira’s Law’ on the BHF website.

Here at Pulse, we have quoted and provided cover for transplant patients, including heart transplants for some time. Such cover is expensive but it can be done and currently Pulse includes Covid 19 in all the Life Assurance Protection it provides.

However, we cannot provide Life Assurance in all circumstances, however Accidental Death cover can provide some protection whilst you go through the life underwriting process.

To find out if cover may be available please contact us on:

[email protected] or call the team on 01280 841430.

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