insurance for Car ? Home ? Travel ? Pet or anything is hard, but the best way is to compare and beat the trick of the insurers by comparing. Getting a car insurance quote online in the UK can save you a lot of money on your auto insurance. All you need to do is to fill out a simple quick quote provider form, submit it, and the online insurance company will do the rest and generate your car insurance quote within minutes. You should always Compare Car Insurance to find you the best deals as well as Cheap Car Insurance. Online car insurance quotes prevent this from happening. With online quotes, consumers also have the freedom to start, save and complete their insurance applications according to their convenience. In addition, a single application usually contains several free online quotes, so that you don?t have to be worried about the cost associated with receiving multiple car insurance online quotes in the UK. Cheap Car Insurance in the UK There are ways to find Cheap Car Insurance in uk through the means of comparing one insurance to another. You can chose between two main types of insurance for cars, depending on things such as the cost of repair versus the increased insurance premiums. More details on how to assess the amount of cover you need in each case are in the Type of Insurance section of the additional info article. Motor Insurance Quotes Lower your risk. The lower the risk category you?re in, the less you?ll pay. This includes things like your driving history, who else drives the car, whether it?s used for commuting and the make and model. Life Insurance UK People are forever, in a hurry to reach to their destinations and in their eagerness they often overlook traffic signals with disastrous consequences. If such a tragedy happens to a family which loses its only earning member in such a tragedy then the plight of such a family can easily be understood. It is with the intention of helping all such families that life insurance UK was devised. It ensures that families who lose their only earning member do not suffer on financial front at least. The value of such a service can easily be understood. No wonder service like this has become a way of life in UK with rarely would one be able to come across a family that would not have a policy of life insurance. However, to gain from life insurance UK it is imperative that people take care of a few things. Efforts like these would go a long way in ensuring that life insurance UK goes a long way in helping families arm with enough strength to take on such a time when their only earning member faces untimely demise. Private Dental Insurance Plans in the UK Lets go back to post war Britain when a marvelous creation called the National Health Service (NHS) was born. Dental treatments and regular preventative dental check ups were part of this service. Patients are now expected to contribute sometimes up to 50% of the cost of their NHS treatment and as this has become more expensive, coupled with the fact that NHS dentists are hard to get registered with, more and more people are seeking private dental insurance plans to meet the bills. It is important to differentiate between ?private dental insurance? and a ?dental insurance plan?. Private Dental insurance is exactly that, a policy that provides payment for the full cost of any and all treatment required either at a private dentistry practice or private dental hospital. Often such policies are part of a wider health insurance scheme provided by some employers. With inflation knocking on the door of many homes and household budgets stretched tight as a drum, many of today?s families are suffering the unhealthy effects of high rates and premiums. But with the help of insurance, life doesn?t have to be that way. In fact, saving money on car insurance, health insurance, home insurance, life insurance and long term care insurance has never been easier. All it takes is a few minutes, a little information and some wise comparison shopping to get affordable coverage and comprehensive protection! Whether looking for home insurance when purchasing a new home, car insurance to cover an old car, health insurance as the family grows, life insurance for an empty-nester or long term care insurance as parents age, you can find service that free of charge. There?s no better way to protect loved ones and treasured possessions, like cars, homes-and especially life and health! Where can I get free auto insurance quotes online? There are a ton of websites that will give you free auto insurance quotes online. The bigger sites are operated by the larger companies and only give you their quotes. But because rates can vary by $1,000 or more from one company to the next, you need to go to a site that will give you quotes from a number of auto insurance companies. Not only can you get multiple rate quotes from these sites, the better sites also have an articles section where you can get auto insurance tips, and a chat section where you can talk with an insurance expert online and get answers to your questions (see link below). It only takes a few minutes to get a free auto insurance quote online and you could save $500 to $1,000 every year you own your car. So why not head over to an insurance comparison site right now and find out how much you can save. Visit http://www.LowerRateQuotes.com or click on the following link to get free auto insurance rate quotes online from top-rated companies and see how much you can save. Helping You Choose Wisely Not sure which types of life insurance or long term care insurance are needed? Or maybe that home or health insurance policy is about to expire. Get some basic information on health insurance, home insurance, car insurance, life insurance and long term care insurance-and find out now! Saving You Money: Free Auto, Home, Health, Life & Long Term Care Insurance Quotes With inflation knocking on the door of many homes and household budgets stretched tight as a drum, many of today's families are suffering the unhealthy effects of high rates and premiums. But with the help of InsureMe, life doesn't have to be that way. In fact, saving money on car insurance, health insurance, home insurance, life insurance and long term care insurance has never been easier. All it takes is a few minutes, a little information and some wise comparison shopping to get affordable coverage and comprehensive protection! Meeting Your Needs At InsureMe, we care about families and their longevity. That's why we lend a hand by helping establish relationships with car insurance, life insurance, health insurance and home insurance agents?right in our customers' own backyards. By making connections with local agents through our network, we can offer: * Established agent connections in all 50 states * Free quotes and affordable rates that help slash premiums * Help locating the right policies at the right price?without sacrificing coverage Meeting customers' needs is our number one priority. With the help of our shopping service that offers quotes on home insurance, car insurance, life insurance, health insurance and long term care insurance, consumers can find and purchase the policies they need?all in one place. Now that's service and convenience! Whether looking for home insurance when purchasing a new home, car insurance to cover an old car, health insurance as the family grows, life insurance for an empty-nester or long term care insurance as parents age, our service is free of charge. There's no better way to protect loved ones and treasured possessions, like cars, homes?and especially life and health! Helping You Choose Wisely Not sure which types of life insurance or long term care insurance are needed? Or maybe that home or health insurance policy is about to expire. Come along with InsureMe, get some basic information on health insurance, home insurance, car insurance, life insurance and long term care insurance?and find out now! Quick Reference Guide Car Insurance When auto accidents occur, car insurance funds the necessary repairs?and pays medical expense if someone gets hurt. Depending on the coverage chosen, a car insurance policy may apply only to the damage sustained by another driver or car, or may also cover insured drivers and their vehicles. Without car insurance, drivers risk fines, ticketing and even jail, depending on the circumstances. Check with each state to find out which car insurance coverage types are required and the amounts mandated. Practicing defensive driving and buying a safer car will help keep car insurance costs down. Health Insurance Covering costs such as hospital bills, emergency room fees, doctor visits and prescription drug costs, health insurance allows the policyholder to seek medical help when needed and get supplemented by the carrier for the cost of treatment. Though by no means required, studies reveal that those who carry health insurance remain healthier than those who don't. Due to the rising cost of medical care today, health insurance has become a necessity for staying healthy and strong. Health insurance quotes help keep costs competitive. Home Insurance Home insurance is required for every home purchase, whether new construction or old. Home insurance protects homeowners from damage, theft and suit as a result of natural disaster, vandalism or unforeseen accidents, and provides reimbursement if and when any of these events occur. Covering both the home and property inside, home insurance helps ensure long term financial viability and prevent home loan default. Life Insurance When a family member passes away, loved ones are often blindsided. In the midst of emotional turmoil, life insurance offers the resources needed to pay off mortgages or other bills, go back to school, take care of children, cover final expenses or relocate. Sometimes offered through employers' benefit plans, most people don't know how much life insurance coverage they actually need?and many end up underinsured as a result. Making this purchase at a young age helps minimize cost, while protecting those left behind. Long Term Care Insurance Growing old is never easy. And when we find ourselves or a family member needing help with daily activities, long-term care coverage provides the money necessary to hire professional help. By paying for in-home nursing care, adult day care or resident nursing home care, long term care insurance assists loved ones as they age so families aren't burdened unnecessarily. As life spans lengthen, having long term care insurance in loved ones' financial portfolios becomes more important than ever before. Renters Insurance When items get damaged or ruined, renters insurance pays to repair or replace them in exchange for yearly premiums. While the landlord?s insurance policy covers damage to structures like apartment buildings and condos, renters insurance protects personal possessions like clothing, electronics and furniture. Depending on the landlord?s insurance policy, it often covers items like lighting, appliances and interior walls as well. If someone gets injured on the property, renters insurance releases them from financial strain and liability by paying medical bills and court costs. Getting You Insured Now that you're well informed, it's time to take action! Whether looking to protect loved ones with car insurance, life insurance or health insurance; or secure and guard that new abode with home insurance, InsureMe can help! Apply today for free car insurance, life insurance, home insurance, health insurance or long term care insurance quotes. Top agents will compete for your business, offering the most competitive quotes in your area. All you do is choose the coverage that's right for you?and walk away with unmatched protection right from your own home. Don't wait. Let InsureMe find you the right car insurance, home insurance, health insurance, life insurance or long term care insurance?today! Cheap Auto Insurance Rates? Cheaper Auto Insurance Quotes? The Cheapest Auto Insurance Rate? It's a fact: Only by shopping around and comparing auto insurance quotes, will you find the cheapest auto insurance quote available. However, make sure that you compare each insurer's features, policy coverage information, as well as price to get the best auto insurance policy for your needs. Remember: While cheap auto insurance rates are exciting, the cheapest auto insurance quote may not ultimately be your best bet. After all, insurance has to work for you when you need it most. In association with numerous companies, Kanetix works tirelessly to provide one of the best free online services for individuals wanting to compare auto insurance quotes, home insurance quotes, life insurance quotes, health insurance quotes, motorcycle insurance quotes and more. Our single minded obsession is to help our users save Time & MONEY, and deliver on the promise of affordable and low cost insurance plans for consumers across the USA. We hope that you benefit from the added value that we bring and that you come back again and again whenever you need quotes for quality personal insurance products. Serving: California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey, Virginia, Washington, Massachusetts, Indiana, Arizona, Tennessee, Missouri, Maryland, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado, Alabama, South Carolina, Louisiana, Kentucky, Oregon, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Iowa, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, West Virginia, Nebraska, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont, the District of Columbia and Wyoming. ***Certain conditions apply. The Importance of Matching Your Will to Your Whole Life Insurance When setting up all the things you need to get your life in order for your later years, you will want to think about making your will and your life insurance match so that there will be no confusion as to who should get what upon the unfortunate event of your death. There is some possibility for problems to arise if your will and your life insurance policy don?t directly reference one another. The definition of a will means that you can leave certain things to certain people. But a life insurance policy may or may not include the same names. Here is a brief guide to understanding why it is important to make sure that your whole life insurance and your will match. The Will Your will is a legal, binding document that allows you to bequeath your property and money to individuals that you specify. A person?s will often designates one person or family to take over all of the assets of a person?s estate. This is powerful in that it can guarantee that assets stay within a family or go to whomever you have chosen, but it doesn?t necessarily account for all assets. Life insurance beneficiaries may or may not be recognized in a will. While a will is meant to be a definitive legal document for the end of your life, your life insurance policy could contradict it. Unless you understand the importance of matching your will to your whole life insurance, your family could be left with a difficult interpretation to deal with. The Life Insurance Policy Your life insurance policy is a legal contract that guarantees the beneficiary a certain amount of predetermined money when you pass on. You name your beneficiary when you initiate the whole life insurance policy, and the name on the contract is the name that will be paid. But the insurance policy is not automatically tied to your will. The person named as the recipient of your assets in your will might not be the person you assigned as the beneficiary to your life insurance. Avoid this problem now that you know the importance of matching your will to your whole life insurance policy. Designating the Beneficiary of Your Life Insurance in Your Will Under the counsel of a lawyer or a judge, you will want to make sure that your will reflects your specific wishes in regards to the money to be paid from your whole life insurance policy. It is really just a matter of making sure that the legal terminology exists in your will to allow for an easy payment of your life insurance to the person you want as the beneficiary. Avoid giving your family the headache of deciphering a will and a life insurance policy that don?t match. Advantages and Disadvantages with a Group Insurance Plan Group insurance is designed so that employers, unions, and other organizations can get widespread coverage for their members at a reasonable cost. Instead of getting individual coverage for each person in a company or organization, insurance companies offer group plans for the entire group that overall tend to be less expensive. Who Does It Cover? Overall, group insurance plans cover those in the group with the same benefits. With major insurance plans, the individuals generally get membership through payroll deductions from their work. Still, additional benefits are available to buy into. Family members are usually covered under the group, but the deductions will be higher. Advantages to a Group Insurance Plan What?s nice about a group insurance plan is that because you are essentially buying ?in bulk? you can get a much cheaper rate than you might be able to get with an individual plan. You are also part of a group that has more bargaining power when negotiating with the insurance company. If you have an individual insurance plan, you are pretty much on your own when it comes to any questions, claims or disputes you may have. Also, to try to extend your protection to your family will probably cost additional premium money under an individual plan, whereas this protection is often covered under your group policy. Disadvantages to a Group Insurance Plan The problem with the group insurance plan is in some ways the same as the advantage; being part of a group. If you are in a better position to negotiate with the insurance company for better rates or better coverage, you may want to be considered a separate entity to the insurance company. If you are part of the group, you can only get the best rates and contract that the group gets. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link. In addition, with a group plan there may be more restrictions on the doctors you can see or the drugs you can get under the plan. With an individual plan, there will often be more flexibility in these matters. 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Insurance is defined as the equitable transfer of the risk of a loss, from one entity to another, in exchange for a premium, and can be thought of as a guaranteed and known small loss to prevent a large, possibly devastating loss. An insurer is a company selling the insurance; an insured or policyholder is the person or entity buying the insurance. The insurance rate is a factor used to determine the amount to be charged for a certain amount of insurance coverage, called the premium. Risk management, the practice of appraising and controlling risk, has evolved as a discrete field of study and practice. 1. A large number of homogeneous exposure units. The vast majority of insurance policies are provided for individual members of very large classes. Automobile insurance, for example, covered about 175 million automobiles in the United States in 2004.[2] The existence of a large number of homogeneous exposure units allows insurers to benefit from the so-called ?law of large numbers,? which in effect states that as the number of exposure units increases, the actual results are increasingly likely to become close to expected results. There are exceptions to this criterion. Lloyd's of London is famous for insuring the life or health of actors, actresses and sports figures. Satellite Launch insurance covers events that are infrequent. Large commercial property policies may insure exceptional properties for which there are no ?homogeneous? exposure units. Despite failing on this criterion, many exposures like these are generally considered to be insurable. 2. Definite Loss. The event that gives rise to the loss that is subject to the insured, at least in principle, take place at a known time, in a known place, and from a known cause. The classic example is death of an insured person on a life insurance policy. Fire, automobile accidents, and worker injuries may all easily meet this criterion. Other types of losses may only be definite in theory. Occupational disease, for instance, may involve prolonged exposure to injurious conditions where no specific time, place or cause is identifiable. Ideally, the time, place and cause of a loss should be clear enough that a reasonable person, with sufficient information, could objectively verify all three elements. 3. Accidental Loss. The event that constitutes the trigger of a claim should be fortuitous, or at least outside the control of the beneficiary of the insurance. The loss should be ?pure,? in the sense that it results from an event for which there is only the opportunity for cost. Events that contain speculative elements, such as ordinary business risks, are generally not considered insurable. 4. Large Loss. The size of the loss must be meaningful from the perspective of the insured. Insurance premiums need to cover both the expected cost of losses, plus the cost of issuing and administering the policy, adjusting losses, and supplying the capital needed to reasonably assure that the insurer will be able to pay claims. For small losses these latter costs may be several times the size of the expected cost of losses. There is little point in paying such costs unless the protection offered has real value to a buyer. 5. Affordable Premium. If the likelihood of an insured event is so high, or the cost of the event so large, that the resulting premium is large relative to the amount of protection offered, it is not likely that anyone will buy insurance, even if on offer. Further, as the accounting profession formally recognizes in financial accounting standards, the premium cannot be so large that there is not a reasonable chance of a significant loss to the insurer. If there is no such chance of loss, the transaction may have the form of insurance, but not the substance. (See the U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board standard number 113) 6. Calculable Loss. There are two elements that must be at least estimable, if not formally calculable: the probability of loss, and the attendant cost. Probability of loss is generally an empirical exercise, while cost has more to do with the ability of a reasonable person in possession of a copy of the insurance policy and a proof of loss associated with a claim presented under that policy to make a reasonably definite and objective evaluation of the amount of the loss recoverable as a result of the claim. 7. Limited risk of catastrophically large losses. The essential risk is often aggregation. If the same event can cause losses to numerous policyholders of the same insurer, the ability of that insurer to issue policies becomes constrained, not by factors surrounding the individual characteristics of a given policyholder, but by the factors surrounding the sum of all policyholders so exposed. Typically, insurers prefer to limit their exposure to a loss from a single event to some small portion of their capital base, on the order of 5 percent. Where the loss can be aggregated, or an individual policy could produce exceptionally large claims, the capital constraint will restrict an insurer's appetite for additional policyholders. The classic example is earthquake insurance, where the ability of an underwriter to issue a new policy depends on the number and size of the policies that it has already underwritten. Wind insurance in hurricane zones, particularly along coast lines, is another example of this phenomenon. In extreme cases, the aggregation can affect the entire industry, since the combined capital of insurers and reinsurers can be small compared to the needs of potential policyholders in areas exposed to aggregation risk. In commercial fire insurance it is possible to find single properties whose total exposed value is well in excess of any individual insurer?s capital constraint. Such properties are generally shared among several insurers, or are insured by a single insurer who syndicates the risk into the reinsurance market. Main article: Indemnity The technical definition of "indemnity" means to make whole again. There are two types of insurance contracts; 1. an "indemnity" policy and 2. a "pay on behalf" or "on behalf of"[3] policy. The difference is significant on paper, but rarely material in practice. An "indemnity" policy will never pay claims until the insured has paid out of pocket to some third party; for example, a visitor to your home slips on a floor that you left wet and sues you for $10,000 and wins. Under an "indemnity" policy the homeowner would have to come up with the $10,000 to pay for the visitor's fall and then would be "indemnified" by the insurance carrier for the out of pocket costs (the $10,000)[4]. Under the same situation, a "pay on behalf" policy, the insurance carrier would pay the claim and the insured (the homeowner) would not be out of pocket for anything. Most modern liability insurance is written on the basis of "pay on behalf" language[5]. An entity seeking to transfer risk (an individual, corporation, or association of any type, etc.) becomes the 'insured' party once risk is assumed by an 'insurer', the insuring party, by means of a contract, called an insurance 'policy'. Generally, an insurance contract includes, at a minimum, the following elements: the parties (the insurer, the insured, the beneficiaries), the premium, the period of coverage, the particular loss event covered, the amount of coverage (i.e., the amount to be paid to the insured or beneficiary in the event of a loss), and exclusions (events not covered). An insured is thus said to be "indemnified" against the loss covered in the policy. When insured parties experience a loss for a specified peril, the coverage entitles the policyholder to make a 'claim' against the insurer for the covered amount of loss as specified by the policy. The fee paid by the insured to the insurer for assuming the risk is called the 'premium'. Insurance premiums from many insureds are used to fund accounts reserved for later payment of claims?in theory for a relatively few claimants?and for overhead costs. So long as an insurer maintains adequate funds set aside for anticipated losses (i.e., reserves), the remaining margin is an insurer's profit. Underwriting and investing The business model can be reduced to a simple equation: Profit = earned premium + investment income - incurred loss - underwriting expenses. Insurers make money in two ways: 1. Through underwriting, the process by which insurers select the risks to insure and decide how much in premiums to charge for accepting those risks; 2. By investing the premiums they collect from insured parties. The most complicated aspect of the insurance business is the underwriting of policies. Using a wide assortment of data, insurers predict the likelihood that a claim will be made against their policies and price products accordingly. To this end, insurers use actuarial science to quantify the risks they are willing to assume and the premium they will charge to assume them. Data is analyzed to fairly accurately project the rate of future claims based on a given risk. Actuarial science uses statistics and probability to analyze the risks associated with the range of perils covered, and these scientific principles are used to determine an insurer's overall exposure. Upon termination of a given policy, the amount of premium collected and the investment gains thereon minus the amount paid out in claims is the insurer's underwriting profit on that policy. Of course, from the insurer's perspective, some policies are "winners" (i.e., the insurer pays out less in claims and expenses than it receives in premiums and investment income) and some are "losers" (i.e., the insurer pays out more in claims and expenses than it receives in premiums and investment income); insurance companies essentially use actuarial science to attempt to underwrite enough "winning" policies to pay out on the "losers" while still maintaining profitability. An insurer's underwriting performance is measured in its combined ratio. The loss ratio (incurred losses and loss-adjustment expenses divided by net earned premium) is added to the expense ratio (underwriting expenses divided by net premium written) to determine the company's combined ratio. The combined ratio is a reflection of the company's overall underwriting profitability. A combined ratio of less than 100 percent indicates underwriting profitability, while anything over 100 indicates an underwriting loss. Insurance companies also earn investment profits on ?float?. ?Float? or available reserve is the amount of money, at hand at any given moment, that an insurer has collected in insurance premiums but has not been paid out in claims. Insurers start investing insurance premiums as soon as they are collected and continue to earn interest on them until claims are paid out. The Association of British Insurers (gathering 400 insurance companies and 94% of UK insurance services) has almost 20% of the investments in the London Stock Exchange.[6] In the United States, the underwriting loss of property and casualty insurance companies was $142.3 billion in the five years ending 2003. But overall profit for the same period was $68.4 billion, as the result of float. Some insurance industry insiders, most notably Hank Greenberg, do not believe that it is forever possible to sustain a profit from float without an underwriting profit as well, but this opinion is not universally held. Naturally, the ?float? method is difficult to carry out in an economically depressed period. Bear markets do cause insurers to shift away from investments and to toughen up their underwriting standards. So a poor economy generally means high insurance premiums. This tendency to swing between profitable and unprofitable periods over time is commonly known as the "underwriting" or insurance cycle. [7] Property and casualty insurers currently make the most money from their auto insurance line of business. Generally better statistics are available on auto losses and underwriting on this line of business has benefited greatly from advances in computing. Additionally, property losses in the United States, due to unpredictable natural catastrophes, have exacerbated this trend. [edit] Claims Claims and loss handling is the materialized utility of insurance; it is the actual "product" paid for, though one hopes it will never need to be used. Claims may be filed by insureds directly with the insurer or through brokers or agents. The insurer may require that the claim be filed on its own proprietary forms, or may accept claims on a standard industry form such as those produced by ACORD. Insurance company claim departments employ a large number of claims adjusters supported by a staff of records management and data entry clerks. Incoming claims are classified based on severity and are assigned to adjusters whose settlement authority varies with their knowledge and experience. The adjuster undertakes a thorough investigation of each claim, usually in close cooperation with the insured, determines its reasonable monetary value, and authorizes payment. Adjusting liability insurance claims is particularly difficult because there is a third party involved (the plaintiff who is suing the insured) who is under no contractual obligation to cooperate with the insurer and in fact may regard the insurer as a deep pocket. The adjuster must obtain legal counsel for the insured (either inside "house" counsel or outside "panel" counsel), monitor litigation that may take years to complete, and appear in person or over the telephone with settlement authority at a mandatory settlement conference when requested by the judge. In managing the claims handling function, insurers seek to balance the elements of customer satisfaction, administrative handling expenses, and claims overpayment leakages. As part of this balancing act, fraudulent insurance practices are a major business risk that must be managed and overcome. Disputes between insurers and insureds over the validity of claims or claims handling practices occasionally escalate into litigation; see insurance bad faith. Main article: History of insurance In some sense we can say that insurance appears simultaneously with the appearance of human society. We know of two types of economies in human societies: money economies (with markets, money, financial instruments and so on) and non-money or natural economies (without money, markets, financial instruments and so on). The second type is a more ancient form than the first. In such an economy and community, we can see insurance in the form of people helping each other. For example, if a house burns down, the members of the community help build a new one. Should the same thing happen to one's neighbour, the other neighbours must help. Otherwise, neighbours will not receive help in the future. This type of insurance has survived to the present day in some countries where modern money economy with its financial instruments is not widespread (for example countries in the territory of the former Soviet Union). Turning to insurance in the modern sense (i.e., insurance in a modern money economy, in which insurance is part of the financial sphere), early methods of transferring or distributing risk were practised by Chinese and Babylonian traders as long ago as the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC, respectively.[8] Chinese merchants travelling treacherous river rapids would redistribute their wares across many vessels to limit the loss due to any single vessel's capsizing. The Babylonians developed a system which was recorded in the famous Code of Hammurabi, c. 1750 BC, and practised by early Mediterranean sailing merchants. If a merchant received a loan to fund his shipment, he would pay the lender an additional sum in exchange for the lender's guarantee to cancel the loan should the shipment be stolen or lost at sea. Achaemenian monarchs of Ancient Persia were the first to insure their people and made it official by registering the insuring process in governmental notary offices. The insurance tradition was performed each year in Norouz (beginning of the Iranian New Year); the heads of different ethnic groups as well as others willing to take part, presented gifts to the monarch. The most important gift was presented during a special ceremony. When a gift was worth more than 10,000 Derrik (Achaemenian gold coin) the issue was registered in a special office. This was advantageous to those who presented such special gifts. For others, the presents were fairly assessed by the confidants of the court. Then the assessment was registered in special offices. The purpose of registering was that whenever the person who presented the gift registered by the court was in trouble, the monarch and the court would help him. Jahez, a historian and writer, writes in one of his books on ancient Iran: "[W]henever the owner of the present is in trouble or wants to construct a building, set up a feast, have his children married, etc. the one in charge of this in the court would check the registration. If the registered amount exceeded 10,000 Derrik, he or she would receive an amount of twice as much."[1] A thousand years later, the inhabitants of Rhodes invented the concept of the 'general average'. Merchants whose goods were being shipped together would pay a proportionally divided premium which would be used to reimburse any merchant whose goods were jettisoned during storm or sinkage. The Greeks and Romans introduced the origins of health and life insurance c. 600 AD when they organized guilds called "benevolent societies" which cared for the families and paid funeral expenses of members upon death. Guilds in the Middle Ages served a similar purpose. The Talmud deals with several aspects of insuring goods. Before insurance was established in the late 17th century, "friendly societies" existed in England, in which people donated amounts of money to a general sum that could be used for emergencies. Separate insurance contracts (i.e., insurance policies not bundled with loans or other kinds of contracts) were invented in Genoa in the 14th century, as were insurance pools backed by pledges of landed estates. These new insurance contracts allowed insurance to be separated from investment, a separation of roles that first proved useful in marine insurance. Insurance became far more sophisticated in post-Renaissance Europe, and specialized varieties developed. Some forms of insurance had developed in London by the early decades of the seventeenth century. For example, the will of the English colonist Robert Hayman mentions two "policies of insurance" taken out with the diocesan Chancellor of London, Arthur Duck. Of the value of ?100 each, one relates to the safe arrival of Hayman's ship in Guyana and the other is in regard to "one hundred pounds assured by the said Doctor Arthur Ducke on my life". Hayman's will was signed and sealed on 17 November 1628 but not proved until 1633.[9] Toward the end of the seventeenth century, London's growing importance as a centre for trade increased demand for marine insurance. In the late 1680s, Edward Lloyd opened a coffee house that became a popular haunt of ship owners, merchants, and ships? captains, and thereby a reliable source of the latest shipping news. It became the meeting place for parties wishing to insure cargoes and ships, and those willing to underwrite such ventures. Today, Lloyd's of London remains the leading market (note that it is not an insurance company) for marine and other specialist types of insurance, but it works rather differently than the more familiar kinds of insurance. Insurance as we know it today can be traced to the Great Fire of London, which in 1666 devoured 13,200 houses. In the aftermath of this disaster, Nicholas Barbon opened an office to insure buildings. In 1680, he established England's first fire insurance company, "The Fire Office," to insure brick and frame homes. The first insurance company in the United States underwrote fire insurance and was formed in Charles Town (modern-day Charleston), South Carolina, in 1732. Benjamin Franklin helped to popularize and make standard the practice of insurance, particularly against fire in the form of perpetual insurance. In 1752, he founded the Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire. Franklin's company was the first to make contributions toward fire prevention. Not only did his company warn against certain fire hazards, it refused to insure certain buildings where the risk of fire was too great, such as all wooden houses. In the United States, regulation of the insurance industry is highly Balkanized, with primary responsibility assumed by individual state insurance departments. Whereas insurance markets have become centralized nationally and internationally, state insurance commissioners operate individually, though at times in concert through a national insurance commissioners' organization. In recent years, some have called for a dual state and federal regulatory system (commonly referred to as the Optional federal charter (OFC)) for insurance similar to that which oversees state banks and national banks. Types of insurance Any risk that can be quantified can potentially be insured. Specific kinds of risk that may give rise to claims are known as "perils". An insurance policy will set out in detail which perils are covered by the policy and which are not. Below are (non-exhaustive) lists of the many different types of insurance that exist. A single policy may cover risks in one or more of the categories set out below. For example, auto insurance would typically cover both property risk (covering the risk of theft or damage to the car) and liability risk (covering legal claims from causing an accident). A homeowner's insurance policy in the U.S. typically includes property insurance covering damage to the home and the owner's belongings, liability insurance covering certain legal claims against the owner, and even a small amount of coverage for medical expenses of guests who are injured on the owner's property. Business insurance can be any kind of insurance that protects businesses against risks. Some principal subtypes of business insurance are (a) the various kinds of professional liability insurance, also called professional indemnity insurance, which are discussed below under that name; and (b) the business owner's policy (BOP), which bundles into one policy many of the kinds of coverage that a business owner needs, in a way analogous to how homeowners insurance bundles the coverages that a homeowner needs.[10] Auto insurance protects you against financial loss if you have an accident. It is a contract between you and the insurance company. You agree to pay the premium and the insurance company agrees to pay your losses as defined in your policy. Auto insurance provides property, liability and medical coverage: 1. Property coverage pays for damage to or theft of your car. 2. Liability coverage pays for your legal responsibility to others for bodily injury or property damage. 3. Medical coverage pays for the cost of treating injuries, rehabilitation and sometimes lost wages and funeral expenses. An auto insurance policy comprises six kinds of coverage. Most countries require you to buy some, but not all, of these coverages. If you're financing a car, your lender may also have requirements. Most auto policies are for six months to a year. In the United States, your insurance company should notify you by mail when it?s time to renew the policy and to pay your premium. [11] Main article: Home insurance Home insurance provides compensation for damage or destruction of a home from disasters. In some geographical areas, the standard insurances excludes certain types of disasters, such as flood and earthquakes, that require additional coverage. Maintenance-related problems are the homeowners' responsibility. The policy may include inventory, or this can be bought as a separate policy, especially for people who rent housing. In some countries, insurers offer a package which may include liability and legal responsibility for injuries and property damage caused by members of the household, including pets.[12] [edit] Health Main articles: Health insurance and Dental insurance NHS Facility Health insurance policies by the National Health Service in the United Kingdom (NHS) or other publicly-funded health programs will cover the cost of medical treatments. Dental insurance, like medical insurance, is coverage for individuals to protect them against dental costs. In the U.S., dental insurance is often part of an employer's benefits package, along with health insurance. [edit] Accident, Sickness and Unemployment Insurance * Disability insurance policies provide financial support in the event the policyholder is unable to work because of disabling illness or injury. It provides monthly support to help pay such obligations as mortgages and credit cards. * Disability overhead insurance allows business owners to cover the overhead expenses of their business while they are unable to work. * Total permanent disability insurance provides benefits when a person is permanently disabled and can no longer work in their profession, often taken as an adjunct to life insurance. * Workers' compensation insurance replaces all or part of a worker's wages lost and accompanying medical expenses incurred because of a job-related injury. [edit] Casualty Casualty insurance insures against accidents, not necessarily tied to any specific property. Main article: Casualty insurance * Crime insurance is a form of casualty insurance that covers the policyholder against losses arising from the criminal acts of third parties. For example, a company can obtain crime insurance to cover losses arising from theft or embezzlement. * Political risk insurance is a form of casualty insurance that can be taken out by businesses with operations in countries in which there is a risk that revolution or other political conditions will result in a loss. [edit] Life Main article: Life insurance Life insurance provides a monetary benefit to a decedent's family or other designated beneficiary, and may specifically provide for income to an insured person's family, burial, funeral and other final expenses. Life insurance policies often allow the option of having the proceeds paid to the beneficiary either in a lump sum cash payment or an annuity. Annuities provide a stream of payments and are generally classified as insurance because they are issued by insurance companies and regulated as insurance and require the same kinds of actuarial and investment management expertise that life insurance requires. Annuities and pensions that pay a benefit for life are sometimes regarded as insurance against the possibility that a retiree will outlive his or her financial resources. In that sense, they are the complement of life insurance and, from an underwriting perspective, are the mirror image of life insurance. Certain life insurance contracts accumulate cash values, which may be taken by the insured if the policy is surrendered or which may be borrowed against. Some policies, such as annuities and endowment policies, are financial instruments to accumulate or liquidate wealth when it is needed. In many countries, such as the U.S. and the UK, the tax law provides that the interest on this cash value is not taxable under certain circumstances. This leads to widespread use of life insurance as a tax-efficient method of saving as well as protection in the event of early death. In U.S., the tax on interest income on life insurance policies and annuities is generally deferred. However, in some cases the benefit derived from tax deferral may be offset by a low return. This depends upon the insuring company, the type of policy and other variables (mortality, market return, etc.). Moreover, other income tax saving vehicles (e.g., IRAs, 401(k) plans, Roth IRAs) may be better alternatives for value accumulation. [edit] Property Main article: Property insurance This tornado damage to an Illinois home would be considered an "Act of God" for insurance purposes Property insurance provides protection against risks to property, such as fire, theft or weather damage. This includes specialized forms of insurance such as fire insurance, flood insurance, earthquake insurance, home insurance, inland marine insurance or boiler insurance. * Automobile insurance, known in the UK as motor insurance, is probably the most common form of insurance and may cover both legal liability claims against the driver and loss of or damage to the insured's vehicle itself. Throughout the United States an auto insurance policy is required to legally operate a motor vehicle on public roads. In some jurisdictions, bodily injury compensation for automobile accident victims has been changed to a no-fault system, which reduces or eliminates the ability to sue for compensation but provides automatic eligibility for benefits. Credit card companies insure against damage on rented cars. o Driving School Insurance insurance provides cover for any authorized driver whilst undergoing tuition, cover also unlike other motor policies provides cover for instructor liability where both the pupil and driving instructor are equally liable in the event of a claim. * Aviation insurance insures against hull, spares, deductibles, hull wear and liability risks. * Boiler insurance (also known as boiler and machinery insurance or equipment breakdown insurance) insures against accidental physical damage to equipment or machinery. * Builder's risk insurance insures against the risk of physical loss or damage to property during construction. Builder's risk insurance is typically written on an "all risk" basis covering damage due to any cause (including the negligence of the insured) not otherwise expressly excluded. * Crop insurance "Farmers use crop insurance to reduce or manage various risks associated with growing crops. Such risks include crop loss or damage caused by weather, hail, drought, frost damage, insects, or disease, for instance."[13] * Earthquake insurance is a form of property insurance that pays the policyholder in the event of an earthquake that causes damage to the property. Most ordinary homeowners insurance policies do not cover earthquake damage. Most earthquake insurance policies feature a high deductible. Rates depend on location and the probability of an earthquake, as well as the construction of the home. * A fidelity bond is a form of casualty insurance that covers policyholders for losses that they incur as a result of fraudulent acts by specified individuals. It usually insures a business for losses caused by the dishonest acts of its employees. * Flood insurance protects against property loss due to flooding. Many insurers in the U.S. do not provide flood insurance in some portions of the country. In response to this, the federal government created the National Flood Insurance Program which serves as the insurer of last resort. * Home insurance or homeowners' insurance: See "Property insurance". * Landlord insurance is specifically designed for people who own properties which they rent out. Most house insurance cover in the U.K will not be valid if the property is rented out therefore landlords must take out this specialist form of home insurance. * Marine insurance and marine cargo insurance cover the loss or damage of ships at sea or on inland waterways, and of the cargo that may be on them. When the owner of the cargo and the carrier are separate corporations, marine cargo insurance typically compensates the owner of cargo for losses sustained from fire, shipwreck, etc., but excludes losses that can be recovered from the carrier or the carrier's insurance. Many marine insurance underwriters will include "time element" coverage in such policies, which extends the indemnity to cover loss of profit and other business expenses attributable to the delay caused by a covered loss. * Surety bond insurance is a three party insurance guaranteeing the performance of the principal. * Terrorism insurance provides protection against any loss or damage caused by terrorist activities. * Volcano insurance is an insurance that covers volcano damage in Hawaii. * Windstorm insurance is an insurance covering the damage that can be caused by hurricanes and tropical cyclones. [edit] Liability Main article: Liability insurance Liability insurance is a very broad superset that covers legal claims against the insured. Many types of insurance include an aspect of liability coverage. For example, a homeowner's insurance policy will normally include liability coverage which protects the insured in the event of a claim brought by someone who slips and falls on the property; automobile insurance also includes an aspect of liability insurance that indemnifies against the harm that a crashing car can cause to others' lives, health, or property. The protection offered by a liability insurance policy is twofold: a legal defense in the event of a lawsuit commenced against the policyholder and indemnification (payment on behalf of the insured) with respect to a settlement or court verdict. Liability policies typically cover only the negligence of the insured, and will not apply to results of wilful or intentional acts by the insured. * Public liability insurance covers a business against claims should its operations injure a member of the public or damage their property in some way. * Directors and officers liability insurance protects an organization (usually a corporation) from costs associated with litigation resulting from mistakes made by directors and officers for which they are liable. In the industry, it is usually called "D&O" for short. * Environmental liability insurance protects the insured from bodily injury, property damage and cleanup costs as a result of the dispersal, release or escape of pollutants. * Errors and omissions insurance: See "Professional liability insurance" under "Liability insurance". * Prize indemnity insurance protects the insured from giving away a large prize at a specific event. Examples would include offering prizes to contestants who can make a half-court shot at a basketball game, or a hole-in-one at a golf tournament. * Professional liability insurance, also called professional indemnity insurance, protects insured professionals such as architectural corporation and medical practice against potential negligence claims made by their patients/clients. Professional liability insurance may take on different names depending on the profession. For example, professional liability insurance in reference to the medical profession may be called malpractice insurance. Notaries public may take out errors and omissions insurance (E&O). Other potential E&O policyholders include, for example, real estate brokers, Insurance agents, home inspectors, appraisers, and website developers. [edit] Credit Main article: Credit insurance Credit insurance repays some or all of a loan when certain things happen to the borrower such as unemployment, disability, or death. * Mortgage insurance insures the lender against default by the borrower. Mortgage insurance is a form of credit insurance, although the name credit insurance more often is used to refer to policies that cover other kinds of debt. * Many credit cards offer payment protection plans which are a form of credit insurance. [edit] Other types * Collateral protection insurance or CPI, insures property (primarily vehicles) held as collateral for loans made by lending institutions. * Defense Base Act Workers' compensation or DBA Insurance provides coverage for civilian workers hired by the government to perform contracts outside the U.S. and Canada. DBA is required for all U.S. citizens, U.S. residents, U.S. Green Card holders, and all employees or subcontractors hired on overseas government contracts. Depending on the country, Foreign Nationals must also be covered under DBA. This coverage typically includes expenses related to medical treatment and loss of wages, as well as disability and death benefits. * Expatriate insurance provides individuals and organizations operating outside of their home country with protection for automobiles, property, health, liability and business pursuits. * Financial loss insurance or Business Interruption Insurance protects individuals and companies against various financial risks. For example, a business might purchase coverage to protect it from loss of sales if a fire in a factory prevented it from carrying out its business for a time. Insurance might also cover the failure of a creditor to pay money it owes to the insured. This type of insurance is frequently referred to as "business interruption insurance." Fidelity bonds and surety bonds are included in this category, although these products provide a benefit to a third party (the "obligee") in the event the insured party (usually referred to as the "obligor") fails to perform its obligations under a contract with the obligee. * Kidnap and ransom insurance * Locked funds insurance is a little-known hybrid insurance policy jointly issued by governments and banks. It is used to protect public funds from tamper by unauthorized parties. In special cases, a government may authorize its use in protecting semi-private funds which are liable to tamper. The terms of this type of insurance are usually very strict. Therefore it is used only in extreme cases where maximum security of funds is required. * Nuclear incident insurance covers damages resulting from an incident involving radioactive materials and is generally arranged at the national level. See the Nuclear exclusion clause and for the United States the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act) * Pet insurance insures pets against accidents and illnesses - some companies cover routine/wellness care and burial, as well. * Pollution Insurance which consists of first-party coverage for contamination of insured property either by external or on-site sources. Coverage for liability to third parties arising from contamination of air, water, or land due to the sudden and accidental release of hazardous materials from the insured site. The policy usually covers the costs of cleanup and may include coverage for releases from underground storage tanks. Intentional acts are specifically excluded. * Purchase insurance is aimed at providing protection on the products people purchase. Purchase insurance can cover individual purchase protection, warranties, guarantees, care plans and even mobile phone insurance. Such insurance is normally very limited in the scope of problems that are covered by the policy. * Title insurance provides a guarantee that title to real property is vested in the purchaser and/or mortgagee, free and clear of liens or encumbrances. It is usually issued in conjunction with a search of the public records performed at the time of a real estate transaction. * Travel insurance is an insurance cover taken by those who travel abroad, which covers certain losses such as medical expenses, loss of personal belongings, travel delay, personal liabilities, etc. * Media Insurance is designed to cover professionals that engage in film, video and TV production. * Legal Expenses Insurance covers policyholders against the potential costs of legal action against an institution or an individual. [edit] Insurance financing vehicles * Fraternal insurance is provided on a cooperative basis by fraternal benefit societies or other social organizations.[14] * No-fault insurance is a type of insurance policy (typically automobile insurance) where insureds are indemnified by their own insurer regardless of fault in the incident. * Protected Self-Insurance is an alternative risk financing mechanism in which an organization retains the mathematically calculated cost of risk within the organization and transfers the catastrophic risk with specific and aggregate limits to an insurer so the maximum total cost of the program is known. A properly designed and underwritten Protected Self-Insurance Program reduces and stabilizes the cost of insurance and provides valuable risk management information. * Retrospectively Rated Insurance is a method of establishing a premium on large commercial accounts. The final premium is based on the insured's actual loss experience during the policy term, sometimes subject to a minimum and maximum premium, with the final premium determined by a formula. Under this plan, the current year's premium is based partially (or wholly) on the current year's losses, although the premium adjustments may take months or years beyond the current year's expiration date. The rating formula is guaranteed in the insurance contract. Formula: retrospective premium = converted loss + basic premium ? tax multiplier. Numerous variations of this formula have been developed and are in use. * Formal self insurance is the deliberate decision to pay for otherwise insurable losses out of one's own money. This can be done on a formal basis by establishing a separate fund into which funds are deposited on a periodic basis, or by simply forgoing the purchase of available insurance and paying out-of-pocket. Self insurance is usually used to pay for high-frequency, low-severity losses. Such losses, if covered by conventional insurance, mean having to pay a premium that includes loadings for the company's general expenses, cost of putting the policy on the books, acquisition expenses, premium taxes, and contingencies. While this is true for all insurance, for small, frequent losses the transaction costs may exceed the benefit of volatility reduction that insurance otherwise affords. * Reinsurance is a type of insurance purchased by insurance companies or self-insured employers to protect against unexpected losses. Financial reinsurance is a form of reinsurance that is primarily used for capital management rather than to transfer insurance risk. * Social insurance can be many things to many people in many countries. But a summary of its essence is that it is a collection of insurance coverages (including components of life insurance, disability income insurance, unemployment insurance, health insurance, and others), plus retirement savings, that requires participation by all citizens. By forcing everyone in society to be a policyholder and pay premiums, it ensures that everyone can become a claimant when or if he/she needs to. Along the way this inevitably becomes related to other concepts such as the justice system and the welfare state. This is a large, complicated topic that engenders tremendous debate, which can be further studied in the following articles (and others): o National Insurance o Social safety net o Social security o Social Security debate (United States) o Social Security (United States) o Social welfare provision * Stop-loss insurance provides protection against catastrophic or unpredictable losses. It is purchased by organizations who do not want to assume 100% of the liability for losses arising from the plans. Under a stop-loss policy, the insurance company becomes liable for losses that exceed certain limits called deductibles. [edit] Closed community self-insurance Some communities prefer to create virtual insurance amongst themselves by other means than contractual risk transfer, which assigns explicit numerical values to risk. A number of religious groups, including the Amish and some Muslim groups, depend on support provided by their communities when disasters strike. The risk presented by any given person is assumed collectively by the community who all bear the cost of rebuilding lost property and supporting people whose needs are suddenly greater after a loss of some kind. In supportive communities where others can be trusted to follow community leaders, this tacit form of insurance can work. In this manner the community can even out the extreme differences in insurability that exist among its members. Some further justification is also provided by invoking the moral hazard of explicit insurance contracts. In the United Kingdom, The Crown (which, for practical purposes, meant the Civil service) did not insure property such as government buildings. If a government building was damaged, the cost of repair would be met from public funds because, in the long run, this was cheaper than paying insurance premiums. Since many UK government buildings have been sold to property companies, and rented back, this arrangement is now less common and may have disappeared altogether. [edit] Insurance companies Insurance companies may be classified into two groups: * Life insurance companies, which sell life insurance, annuities and pensions products. * Non-life, General, or Property/Casualty insurance companies, which sell other types of insurance. General insurance companies can be further divided into these sub categories. * Standard Lines * Excess Lines In most countries, life and non-life insurers are subject to different regulatory regimes and different tax and accounting rules. The main reason for the distinction between the two types of company is that life, annuity, and pension business is very long-term in nature ? coverage for life assurance or a pension can cover risks over many decades. By contrast, non-life insurance cover usually covers a shorter period, such as one year. In the United States, standard line insurance companies are "mainstream" insurers. These are the companies that typically insure autos, homes or businesses. They use pattern or "cookie-cutter" policies without variation from one person to the next. They usually have lower premiums than excess lines and can sell directly to individuals. They are regulated by state laws that can restrict the amount they can charge for insurance policies. Excess line insurance companies (aka Excess and Surplus) typically insure risks not covered by the standard lines market. They are broadly referred as being all insurance placed with non-admitted insurers. Non-admitted insurers are not licensed in the states where the risks are located. These companies have more flexibility and can react faster than standard insurance companies because they are not required to file rates and forms as the "admitted" carriers do. However, they still have substantial regulatory requirements placed upon them. State laws generally require insurance placed with surplus line agents and brokers not to be available through standard licensed insurers. Insurance companies are generally classified as either mutual or stock companies. Mutual companies are owned by the policyholders, while stockholders (who may or may not own policies) own stock insurance companies. Demutualization of mutual insurers to form stock companies, as well as the formation of a hybrid known as a mutual holding company, became common in some countries, such as the United States, in the late 20th century. Other possible forms for an insurance company include reciprocals, in which policyholders 'reciprocate' in sharing risks, and Lloyds organizations. Insurance companies are rated by various agencies such as A. M. Best. The ratings include the company's financial strength, which measures its ability to pay claims. It also rates financial instruments issued by the insurance company, such as bonds, notes, and securitization products. Reinsurance companies are insurance companies that sell policies to other insurance companies, allowing them to reduce their risks and protect themselves from very large losses. The reinsurance market is dominated by a few very large companies, with huge reserves. A reinsurer may also be a direct writer of insurance risks as well. Captive insurance companies may be defined as limited-purpose insurance companies established with the specific objective of financing risks emanating from their parent group or groups. This definition can sometimes be extended to include some of the risks of the parent company's customers. In short, it is an in-house self-insurance vehicle. Captives may take the form of a "pure" entity (which is a 100% subsidiary of the self-insured parent company); of a "mutual" captive (which insures the collective risks of members of an industry); and of an "association" captive (which self-insures individual risks of the members of a professional, commercial or industrial association). Captives represent commercial, economic and tax advantages to their sponsors because of the reductions in costs they help create and for the ease of insurance risk management and the flexibility for cash flows they generate. Additionally, they may provide coverage of risks which is neither available nor offered in the traditional insurance market at reasonable prices. The types of risk that a captive can underwrite for their parents include property damage, public and product liability, professional indemnity, employee benefits, employers' liability, motor and medical aid expenses. The captive's exposure to such risks may be limited by the use of reinsurance. Captives are becoming an increasingly important component of the risk management and risk financing strategy of their parent. This can be understood against the following background: * heavy and increasing premium costs in almost every line of coverage; * difficulties in insuring certain types of fortuitous risk; * differential coverage standards in various parts of the world; * rating structures which reflect market trends rather than individual loss experience; * insufficient credit for deductibles and/or loss control efforts. There are also companies known as 'insurance consultants'. Like a mortgage broker, these companies are paid a fee by the customer to shop around for the best insurance policy amongst many companies. Similar to an insurance consultant, an 'insurance broker' also shops around for the best insurance policy amongst many companies. However, with insurance brokers, the fee is usually paid in the form of commission from the insurer that is selected rather than directly from the client. Neither insurance consultants nor insurance brokers are insurance companies and no risks are transferred to them in insurance transactions. Third party administrators are companies that perform underwriting and sometimes claims handling services for insurance companies. These companies often have special expertise that the insurance companies do not have. The financial stability and strength of an insurance company should be a major consideration when buying an insurance contract. An insurance premium paid currently provides coverage for losses that might arise many years in the future. For that reason, the viability of the insurance carrier is very important. In recent years, a number of insurance companies have become insolvent, leaving their policyholders with no coverage (or coverage only from a government-backed insurance pool or other arrangement with less attractive payouts for losses). A number of independent rating agencies, such as Best's, Fitch, Standard & Poor's, and Moody's Investors Service, provide information and rate the financial viability of insurance companies. [edit] Global insurance industry Life insurance premia written in 2005 Non-life insurance premia written in 2005 Global insurance premiums grew by 11% in 2007 (or 3.3% in real terms) to reach $4.1 trillion. The macro-economic environment was characterised by slower economic growth in 2007 and rising inflation. Profitability improved in life insurance and fell slightly in the non-life sector during the year. Life insurance premiums grew by 12.6%, accelerating in the advanced economies with the exception of Japan and Continental Europe. Non-life insurance premiums grew by 7.6% during the year. Figures for premium income are not yet available for 2008, but the insurance industry is likely to see a slowdown in new business and falling investment revenue. Advanced economies account for the bulk of global insurance. With premium income of $1,681bn, Europe was the most important region, followed by North America ($1,330bn) and Asia ($814bn). The top four countries accounted for nearly 60% of premiums in 2007. The US and UK alone accounted for 42% of world insurance, much higher than their 7% share of the global population. Emerging markets accounted for over 85% of the world?s population but generated only around 10% of premiums. [15] [edit] Controversies [edit] Insurance insulates too much By creating a "security blanket" for its insureds, an insurance company may inadvertently find that its insureds may not be as risk-averse as they might otherwise be (since, by definition, the insured has transferred the risk to the insurer,) a concept known as moral hazard. To reduce their own financial exposure, insurance companies have contractual clauses that mitigate their obligation to provide coverage if the insured engages in behavior that grossly magnifies their risk of loss or liability.[citation needed] For example, life insurance companies may require higher premiums or deny coverage altogether to people who work in hazardous occupations or engage in dangerous sports. Liability insurance providers do not provide coverage for liability arising from intentional torts committed by the insured. Even if a provider were so irrational as to want to provide such coverage, it is against the public policy of most countries to allow such insurance to exist, and thus it is usually illegal.[citation needed] [edit] Complexity of insurance policy contracts Insurance policies can be complex and some policyholders may not understand all the fees and coverages included in a policy. As a result, people may buy policies on unfavorable terms. In response to these issues, many countries have enacted detailed statutory and regulatory regimes governing every aspect of the insurance business, including minimum standards for policies and the ways in which they may be advertised and sold. For example, most insurance policies in the English language today have been carefully drafted in plain English; the industry learned the hard way that many courts will not enforce policies against insureds when the judges themselves cannot understand what the policies are saying. Many institutional insurance purchasers buy insurance through an insurance broker. While on the surface it appears the broker represents the buyer (not the insurance company), and typically counsels the buyer on appropriate coverage and policy limitations, it should be noted that in the vast majority of cases a broker's compensation comes in the form of a commission as a percentage of the insurance premium, creating a conflict of interest in that the broker's financial interest is tilted towards encouraging an insured to purchase more insurance than might be necessary at a higher price. A broker generally holds contracts with many insurers, thereby allowing the broker to "shop" the market for the best rates and coverage possible. Insurance may also be purchased through an agent. Unlike a broker, who represents the policyholder, an agent represents the insurance company from whom the policyholder buys. An agent can represent more than one company. An independent insurance consultant advises insureds on a fee-for-service retainer, similar to an attorney, and thus offers completely independent advice, free of the financial conflict of interest of brokers and/or agents. However, such a consultant must still work through brokers and/or agents in order to secure coverage for their clients. [edit] Redlining Redlining is the practice of denying insurance coverage in specific geographic areas, supposedly because of a high likelihood of loss, while the alleged motivation is unlawful discrimination. Racial profiling or redlining has a long history in the property insurance industry in the United States. From a review of industry underwriting and marketing materials, court documents, and research by government agencies, industry and community groups, and academics, it is clear that race has long affected and continues to affect the policies and practices of the insurance industry.[16] In July, 2007, The Federal Trade Commission released a report presenting the results of a study concerning credit-based insurance scores and automobile insurance. The study found that these scores are effective predictors of the claims that consumers will file. (http://www2.ftc.gov/os/2007/07/P044804FACTA_Report_Credit-Based_Insurance_Scores.pdf) All states have provisions in their rate regulation laws or in their fair trade practice acts that prohibit unfair discrimination, often called redlining, in setting rates and making insurance available.[17] In determining premiums and premium rate structures, insurers consider quantifiable factors, including location, credit scores, gender, occupation, marital status, and education level. However, the use of such factors is often considered to be unfair or unlawfully discriminatory, and the reaction against this practice has in some instances led to political disputes about the ways in which insurers determine premiums and regulatory intervention to limit the factors used. An insurance underwriter's job is to evaluate a given risk as to the likelihood that a loss will occur. Any factor that causes a greater likelihood of loss should theoretically be charged a higher rate. This basic principle of insurance must be followed if insurance companies are to remain solvent.[citation needed] Thus, "discrimination" against (i.e., negative differential treatment of) potential insureds in the risk evaluation and premium-setting process is a necessary by-product of the fundamentals of insurance underwriting. For instance, insurers charge older people significantly higher premiums than they charge younger people for term life insurance. Older people are thus treated differently than younger people (i.e., a distinction is made, discrimination occurs). The rationale for the differential treatment goes to the heart of the risk a life insurer takes: Old people are likely to die sooner than young people, so the risk of loss (the insured's death) is greater in any given period of time and therefore the risk premium must be higher to cover the greater risk. However, treating insureds differently when there is no actuarially sound reason for doing so is unlawful discrimination. What is often missing from the debate is that prohibiting the use of legitimate, actuarially sound factors means that an insufficient amount is being charged for a given risk, and there is thus a deficit in the system.[citation needed] The failure to address the deficit may mean insolvency and hardship for all of a company's insureds.[citation needed] The options for addressing the deficit seem to be the following: Charge the deficit to the other policyholders or charge it to the government (i.e., externalize outside of the company to society at large).[citation needed] [edit] Insurance patents Further information: Insurance patent New assurance products can now be protected from copying with a business method patent in the United States. A recent example of a new insurance product that is patented is Usage Based auto insurance. Early versions were independently invented and patented by a major U.S. auto insurance company, Progressive Auto Insurance (U.S. Patent 5,797,134) and a Spanish independent inventor, Salvador Minguijon Perez (EP patent 0700009). Many independent inventors are in favor of patenting new insurance products since it gives them protection from big companies when they bring their new insurance products to market. Independent inventors account for 70% of the new U.S. patent applications in this area. Many insurance executives are opposed to patenting insurance products because it creates a new risk for them. The Hartford insurance company, for example, recently had to pay $80 million to an independent inventor, Bancorp Services, in order to settle a patent infringement and theft of trade secret lawsuit for a type of corporate owned life insurance product invented and patented by Bancorp. There are currently about 150 new patent applications on insurance inventions filed per year in the United States. The rate at which patents have issued has steadily risen from 15 in 2002 to 44 in 2006. [18] Inventors can now have their insurance U.S. patent applications reviewed by the public in the Peer to Patent program.[19] The first insurance patent application to be posted was US2009005522 ?Risk assessment company?. It was posted on March 6, 2009. This patent application describes a method for increasing the ease of changing insurance companies.[20] [edit] The insurance industry and rent seeking Certain insurance products and practices have been described as rent seeking by critics.[citation needed] That is, some insurance products or practices are useful primarily because of legal benefits, such as reducing taxes, as opposed to providing protection against risks of adverse events. Under United States tax law, for example, most owners of variable annuities and variable life insurance can invest their premium payments in the stock market and defer or eliminate paying any taxes on their investments until withdrawals are made. Sometimes this tax deferral is the only reason people use these products.[citation needed] Another example is the legal infrastructure which allows life insurance to be held in an irrevocable trust which is used to pay an estate tax while the proceeds themselves are immune from the estate tax. What Everyone Needs to Know about Health Insurance Why do people desire health insurance? If you answer "to pay for medical expenses", stop for a minute. Do you have food insurance to pay for food expenses, or textile insurance to pay for clothes? Of course not. We recognize that insurance makes no sense for food and clothing. Why do we treat medical expenses differently, expecting routine care to be covered by insurance? What is insurance really about? Insurance is a vehicle for spreading risk. The participants prefer a small but certain cost instead of a large but unlikely cost. Let's proceed by analogy, using household fire insurance to explain some important features of insurance in general, and health insurance in particular. The odds of your home burning down are low, but the cost if it happens is tremendous. For most people, the uninsured loss of their home would be a ruinous financial burden. By purchasing insurance, they are protected from the catastrophe, but must regularly pay an insurance premium to get this protection. As economists never tire of saying, there are no free lunches. In total, insurance premiums must exceed insurance claims or the insurer will go out of business. The cost of anything covered by insurance is paid for through insurance premiums. For insurance companies to pay more or higher claims, premiums must correspondingly increase. In the case of health care, the tax-advantaged status of insurance premiums has created a large distortion in the market. General medical spending is only tax-advantaged if it exceeds an certain (uncommon) percentage of your income, but employer-paid insurance premiums are always tax-advantaged. The other mantra of economics (besides "no free lunches") is that incentives matter. Most people don't qualify for the tax benefit on out-of-pocket medical spending, but through their employer they do get the tax benefit for insurance premiums. Because insurance premiums fundamentally match insurance claims, in aggregate, an insurance premium can be considered as simply another way ? a tax-advantaged way ? of paying for health care. The incentive is to pay for medical care through insurance premiums rather than out-of-pocket. This favors insurance plans that offer wider coverage and smaller co-pays or deductibles. If you haven't ever thought of it this way, and therefore think you haven't been affected by the tax incentive, I have good news for you: You didn't have to think of it, because your employer and the insurance companies already figured it out. The process of economic competition has brought you the tax benefit even as you were unaware of it. An interesting historical note in this area is that employer-provided health insurance grew out of price and wage controls during World War II. Prohibited from raising wages, employers competed for employees by raising non-wage benefits such as health insurance. If you stop to think for a moment, doesn't it seem strange that individuals themselves pay for all kinds of insurance except health insurance? What sense does it make for any kind of insurance to be tied to your job? It doesn't; it's a legacy of wartime economic intervention that tax incentives have made permanent. Whenever a market doesn't make sense, look for government intervention. You'll find it. What are the effects of low co-pay/deductible, wide-coverage health insurance? Consumers don't pay much attention to price. (When was the last time you compared different doctors' prices for an office visit? If your co-pay is always the same, you don't care what the total cost is.) The aggregative nature of health insurance means that any individual's health care decisions have a negligible impact on premiums. The incentive is to consume more, because other people bear almost all the cost. When large numbers of people do this, premiums increase. This is a description of what has been happening in the United States over the past several years. As aggregate systems of payment grow, the system more and more resembles a socialist one. The end state of this trend, nationalized health care, is within sight and is positively desired by many. Socialism only strengthens the perverse incentive to consume as much health care as possible. Socialist systems "solve" the problem of ballooning costs by rationing. In Canada it takes months to get an MRI scan; in England it takes years. Rationing has come to the United States also, in the form of HMOs denying treatments. Fortunately, in the United States, federalism has made it possible to experiment with and to end socialist systems before they reach their full destructive potential. (That program, incidentally, was very similar to Kerry's national health care plan. Its cancellation ? by a Democratic governor ? should give supporters of Kerry's plan serious pause and reflection.) What would I like to see? I would like to see a move back toward insurance as insurance ? protection against catastrophe ? instead of an aggregate payment system for health care. The way to achieve this is to end the tax advantage of employer-paid premiums over out-of-pocket payment. Health Savings Accounts do this by giving the same tax advantage to both, making high-deductible (catastrophic) coverage attractive again. This form of coverage restores the incentive of individuals to pay attention to price, rekindling economic competition and simultaneously reducing excessive consumption of health care. The most serious objection to my proposal is that people who have chronic conditions will be worse off. As people who are low consumers of health care migrate to catastrophic coverage, the subsidy they had been implicitly providing to the chronically ill will be reduced. This is true, and in fact is a major personal motivation for me to switch to a catastrophic coverage plan with a Health Savings Account. I don't want to be involved in a quasi-socialist scheme paying for other peoples' medical bills. This is a complicated matter to address and requires additional background. Imagine a town filled with very similar homes, each with a small risk of fire. If everyone buys an insurance policy, the people whose houses burn down are covered. The others have lost a little money paying premiums. Ordinarily people are happy to do this; most people prefer a small but certain cost over a large but unlikely cost. So far we have assumed the risk is evenly distributed. What if it isn't? What if the investigation of a fire showed that it was caused by particularly bad wiring, and that it was known exactly half the homes in town had been wired similarly and were therefore at increased risk of burning down? This discovery changes the risk assessment. Fires in half of the homes are more likely than had been previously realized. Higher claims must mean higher premiums. (There are no free lunches.) At this point the insurer faces an alternative. Should everybody pay higher premiums to cover the overall higher rate of claims, or should just the high-risk group pay higher premiums? The free-market outcome would be for only the high-risk group to pay higher premiums. If the insurer tried to raise everyone's premium, the low-risk group would be unhappy and would switch to a competing insurer who offered the original premium on the condition of knowing the house had low-risk wiring. Because the risk groups are identifiable, the natural outcome is a separation between them. Each person would be in an insurance pool with others of a similar risk profile, and their premiums would reflect their risk. (DWL: Please no nitpicking about situations without stable equilibria, I'm trying to keep this simple!) The alternative of everyone paying a higher premium could be obtained through government intervention. However, it contains an implicit transfer of funds from the low-risk group to the high-risk group. That arrangement would be favored by the high-risk group but resented by the low-risk group. Because the situation is politically created, the friction between those two groups becomes a political matter, with all that that implies. The example of discovering bad wiring is analogous to a person discovering they have significant risk factors for a serious disease. It increases their likelihood of making insurance claims. Adjusting fire insurance premiums based on the quality of the house's wiring is analogous to adjusting health insurance premiums based on risk factors. Chronic conditions may be thought of as a risk with probability 1. Just as bad wiring is in no way the fault of the homeowner, a chronic condition may be (or in the case of genetics, is) in no way the fault of the patient. However, insurance is based on risk, not on fault or need. There is no free lunch in insurance or anywhere else. On an aggregate basis, every person should expect to pay more in premiums than they ever collect in claims. Insurance isn't a vehicle to save money. Insurance isn't a vehicle to pay for expenses. Insurance is a vehicle to dilute risk. If you have any other expectation, you will be disappointed. In a free market, people with chronic conditions will not be subsidized through the insurance system by people without chronic conditions. And that is as it should be. No one has the right to force the cost of their higher risk to be shouldered by someone else. Not in fire insurance, and not in health insurance. The fair outcome is to be in an insurance pool with people of similar risk. You may find it morally repulsive that the chronically sick must pay the most out-of-pocket. Yet it is undeniably true that they are the highest-risk group. I encourage you to ease your conscience with your wallet, not your vote ? give to medical charities or directly to those in need. Do not hijack and politicize the insurance system. That leads to socialism and the destruction of effective health care for everyone. Let insurance be insurance, and let charity be charity. Do not confuse the two. Lawyer A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person licensed to practice law."[1] Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain stability, and deliver justice. Working as a lawyer involves the practical application of abstract legal theories and knowledge to solve specific individualized problems, or to advance the interests of those who retain (i.e., hire) lawyers to perform legal services. The role of the lawyer varies significantly across legal jurisdictions, and so it can be treated here in only the most general terms.[2][3] More information is available in country-specific Terminology In practice, legal jurisdictions exercise their right to determine who is recognized as being a lawyer; as a result, the meaning of the term "lawyer" may vary from place to place.[4] * In New Zealand and Australia the word "lawyer" is used to refer to both barristers and solicitors (whether in private practice or practising as corporate in-house counsel). * In Canada, the word "lawyer" only refers to individuals who have been called to the bar or have qualified as civil law notaries in the province of Quebec. Common law lawyers in Canada may also be known as "barristers and solicitors", but should not be referred to as "attorneys", since that term has a different meaning in Canadian usage. However, in Quebec, civil law advocates (or avocats in French) often call themselves "attorney" and sometimes "barrister and solicitor". * In England, "lawyer" is used loosely to refer to a broad variety of law-trained persons. It includes practitioners such as barristers, solicitors, legal executives and licensed conveyancers; and people who are involved with the law but do not practise it on behalf of individual clients, such as judges, court clerks, and drafters of legislation. * In India, the term "lawyer" is often colloquially used, but the official term is "advocate" as prescribed under the Advocates Act, 1961.[5] * In Scotland, the word "lawyer" refers to a more specific group of legally trained people. It specifically includes advocates and solicitors. In a generic sense, it may also include judges and law-trained support staff. * In the United States, the term generally refers to attorneys who may practice law; it is never used to refer to patent agents[6] or paralegals.[7] * Other nations tend to have comparable terms for the analogous concept. [edit] Responsibilities In most countries, particularly civil law countries, there has been a tradition of giving many legal tasks to a variety of civil law notaries, clerks, and scriveners.[8][9] These countries do not have "lawyers" in the American sense, insofar as that term refers to a single type of general-purpose legal services provider;[10] rather, their legal professions consist of a large number of different kinds of law-trained persons, known as jurists, of which only some are advocates who are licensed to practice in the courts.[11][12][13] It is difficult to formulate accurate generalizations that cover all the countries with multiple legal professions, because each country has traditionally had its own peculiar method of dividing up legal work among all its different types of legal professionals.[14] Notably, England, the mother of the common law jurisdictions, emerged from the Dark Ages with similar complexity in its legal professions, but then evolved by the 19th century to a single dichotomy between barristers and solicitors. An equivalent dichotomy developed between advocates and procurators in some civil law countries, though these two types did not always monopolize the practice of law as much as barristers and solicitors, in that they always coexisted with civil law notaries.[15][16][17] Several countries that originally had two or more legal professions have since fused or united their professions into a single type of lawyer.[18][19][20][21] Most countries in this category are common law countries, though France, a civil law country, merged together its jurists in 1990 and 1991 in response to Anglo-American competition.[22] In countries with fused professions, a lawyer is usually permitted to carry out all or nearly all the responsibilities listed below. [edit] Oral argument in the courts Arguing a client's case before a judge or jury in a court of law is the traditional province of the barrister in England, and of advocates in some civil law jurisdictions.[23] However, the boundary between barristers and solicitors has evolved. In England today, the barrister monopoly covers only appellate courts, and barristers must compete directly with solicitors in many trial courts.[24] In countries like the United States that have fused legal professions, there are trial lawyers who specialize in trying cases in court, but trial lawyers do not have a de jure monopoly like barristers. In some countries, litigants have the option of arguing pro se, or on their own behalf. It is common for litigants to appear unrepresented before certain courts like small claims courts; indeed, many such courts do not allow lawyers to speak for their clients, in an effort to save money for all participants in a small case.[25] In other countries, like Venezuela, no one may appear before a judge unless represented by a lawyer.[26] The advantage of the latter regime is that lawyers are familiar with the court's customs and procedures, and make the legal system more efficient for all involved. Unrepresented parties often damage their own credibility or slow the court down as a result of their inexperience.[27][28] [edit] Research and drafting of court papers Often, lawyers brief a court in writing on the issues in a case before the issues can be orally argued. They may have to perform extensive research into relevant facts and law while drafting legal papers and preparing for oral argument. In England, the usual division of labour is that a solicitor will obtain the facts of the case from the client and then brief a barrister (usually in writing).[29] The barrister then researches and drafts the necessary court pleadings (which will be filed and served by the solicitor) and orally argues the case.[30] In Spain, the procurator merely signs and presents the papers to the court, but it is the advocate who drafts the papers and argues the case.[31] In some countries, like Japan, a scrivener or clerk may fill out court forms and draft simple papers for lay persons who cannot afford or do not need attorneys, and advise them on how to manage and argue their own cases.[32] [edit] Advocacy (written and oral) in administrative hearings In most developed countries, the legislature has granted original jurisdiction over highly technical matters to executive branch administrative agencies which oversee such things. As a result, some lawyers have become specialists in administrative law. In a few countries, there is a special category of jurists with a monopoly over this form of advocacy; for example, France formerly had conseil juridiques (who were merged into the main legal profession in 1991).[33] In other countries, like the United States, lawyers have been effectively barred by statute from certain types of administrative hearings in order to preserve their informality.[34] [edit] Client intake and counseling (with regard to pending litigation) An important aspect of a lawyer's job is developing and managing relationships with clients (or the client's employees, if the lawyer works in-house for a government or corporation). The client-lawyer relationship often begins with an intake interview where the lawyer gets to know the client personally, discovers the facts of the client's case, clarifies what the client wants to accomplish, shapes the client's expectations as to what actually can be accomplished, begins to develop various claims or defenses, and explains his or her fees to the client.[35][36] In England, only solicitors were traditionally in direct contact with the client.[37] The solicitor retained a barrister if one was necessary and acted as an intermediary between the barrister and the client.[38] In most cases a barrister would be obliged, under what is known as the "cab rank rule", to accept instructions for a case in an area in which they held themselves out as practising, at a court at which they normally appeared and at their usual rates.[39][40] [edit] Legal advice Main article: Legal advice Legal advice is the application of abstract principles of law to the concrete facts of the client's case in order to advise the client about what they should do next. In many countries, only a properly licensed lawyer may provide legal advice to clients for good consideration, even if no lawsuit is contemplated or is in progress.[41][42][43] Therefore, even conveyancers and corporate in-house counsel must first get a license to practice, though they may actually spend very little of their careers in court. Failure to obey such a rule is the crime of unauthorized practice of law.[44] In other countries, jurists who hold law degrees are allowed to provide legal advice to individuals or to corporations, and it is irrelevant if they lack a license and cannot appear in court.[45][46] Some countries go further; in England and Wales, there is no general prohibition on the giving of legal advice.[47] Sometimes civil law notaries are allowed to give legal advice, as in Belgium.[48] In many countries, non-jurist accountants may provide what is technically legal advice in tax and accounting matters.[49] [edit] Protecting intellectual property In virtually all countries, patents, trademarks, industrial designs and other forms of intellectual property must be formally registered with a government agency in order to receive maximum protection under the law. The division of such work among lawyers, licensed non-lawyer jurists/agents, and ordinary clerks or scriveners varies greatly from one country to the next.[32][50] [edit] Negotiating and drafting contracts In some countries, the negotiating and drafting of contracts is considered to be similar to the provision of legal advice, so that it is subject to the licensing requirement explained above.[51] In others, jurists or notaries may negotiate or draft contracts.[52] Lawyers in some civil law countries traditionally deprecated "transactional law" or "business law" as beneath them. French law firms developed transactional departments only in the 1990s when they started to lose business to international firms based in the United States and the United Kingdom (where solicitors have always done transactional work).[53] [edit] Conveyancing Conveyancing is the drafting of the documents necessary for the transfer of real property, such as deeds and mortgages. In some jurisdictions, all real estate transactions must be carried out by a lawyer (or a solicitor where that distinction still exists).[54] Such a monopoly is quite valuable from the lawyer's point of view; historically, conveyancing accounted for about half of English solicitors' income (though this has since changed),[55] and a 1978 study showed that conveyancing "accounts for as much as 80 percent of solicitor-client contact in New South Wales."[56] In most common law jurisdictions outside of the United States, this monopoly arose from an 1804 law[57] that was introduced by William Pitt the Younger as a quid pro quo for the raising of fees on the certification of legal professionals such as barristers, solicitors, attorneys and notaries.[58] In others, the use of a lawyer is optional and banks, title companies, or realtors may be used instead.[59] In some civil law jurisdictions, real estate transactions are handled by civil law notaries.[60] In England and Wales a special class of legal professional?the licensed conveyancer?is also allowed to carry out conveyancing services for reward.[61] [edit] Carrying out the intent of the deceased In many countries, only lawyers have the legal authority to draft wills, trusts, and any other documents that ensure the efficient disposition of a person's property after death. In some civil law countries this responsibility is handled by civil law notaries.[52] In the United States, the estates of the deceased must generally be administered by a court through probate. American lawyers have a profitable monopoly on dispensing advice about probate law (which has been heavily criticized).[62] [edit] Prosecution and defense of criminal suspects In many civil law countries, prosecutors are trained and employed as part of the judiciary; they are law-trained jurists, but may not necessarily be lawyers in the sense that the word is used in the common law world.[63] In common law countries, prosecutors are usually lawyers holding regular licenses who simply happen to work for the government office that files criminal charges against suspects. Criminal defense lawyers specialize in the defense of those charged with any crimes.[64] [edit] Education Main article: Legal education The educational prerequisites to becoming a lawyer vary greatly from country to country. In some countries, law is taught by a faculty of law, which is a department of a university's general undergraduate college.[65] Law students in those countries pursue a Master or Bachelor of Laws degree. In some countries it is common or even required for students to earn another bachelor's degree at the same time. Nor is the LL.B the sole obstacle; it is often followed by a series of advanced examinations, apprenticeships, and additional coursework at special government institutes.[66] In other countries, particularly the United States, law is primarily taught at law schools. In the United States[67] and countries following the American model, (such as Canada[68] with the exception of the province of Quebec) law schools are graduate/professional schools where a bachelor's degree is a prerequisite for admission. Most law schools are part of universities but a few are independent institutions. Law schools in the United States (and many in Canada and elsewhere) award graduating students a J.D. (Juris Doctor/Doctor of Jurisprudence) (as opposed to the Bachelor of Laws) as the practitioner's law degree. Many schools also offer post-doctoral law degrees such as the LL.M (Legum Magister/Master of Laws), or the S.J.D. (Scientiae Juridicae Doctor/Doctor of Juridical Science) for students interested in advancing their research knowledge and credentials in a specific area of law.[69] The methods and quality of legal education vary widely. Some countries require extensive clinical training in the form of apprenticeships or special clinical courses.[70] Others do not, like Venezuela.[71] A few countries prefer to teach through assigned readings of judicial opinions (the casebook method) followed by intense in-class cross-examination by the professor (the Socratic method).[72][73] Many others have only lectures on highly abstract legal doctrines, which forces young lawyers to figure out how to actually think and write like a lawyer at their first apprenticeship (or job).[74][75][76] Depending upon the country, a typical class size could range from five students in a seminar to five hundred in a giant lecture room. In the United States, law schools maintain small class sizes, and as such, grant admissions on a more limited and competitive basis.[77] Some countries, particularly industrialized ones, have a traditional preference for full-time law programs,[78] while in developing countries, students often work full- or part-time to pay the tuition and fees of their part-time law programs.[79][80] Law schools in developing countries share several common problems, such as an overreliance on practicing judges and lawyers who treat teaching as a part-time hobby (and a concomitant scarcity of full-time law professors);[81][82] incompetent faculty with questionable credentials;[83] and textbooks that lag behind the current state of the law by two or three decades.[81][84] [edit] Earning the right to practice law Main article: Admission to practice law Some jurisdictions grant a "diploma privilege" to certain institutions, so that merely earning a degree or credential from those institutions is the primary qualification for practicing law.[85] Mexico allows anyone with a law degree to practice law.[86] However, in a large number of countries, a law student must pass a bar examination (or a series of such examinations) before receiving a license to practice.[85][87][88] In a handful of U.S. states, one may become an attorney (a so-called country lawyer) by simply "reading law" and passing the bar examination, without having to attend law school first (although very few people actually become lawyers that way).[89] Some countries require a formal apprenticeship with an experienced practitioner, while others do not.[90] For example, a few jurisdictions still allow an apprenticeship in place of any kind of formal legal education (though the number of persons who actually become lawyers that way is increasingly rare).[91] [edit] Career structure U.S. President Abraham Lincoln is a famous example of a lawyer-turned-politician. The career structure of lawyers varies widely from one country to the next. [edit] Common law/civil law In most common law countries, especially those with fused professions, lawyers have many options over the course of their careers. Besides private practice, they can become a prosecutor, government counsel, corporate in-house counsel, administrative law judge, judge, arbitrator, law professor, or politician.[92] There are also many non-legal jobs which legal training is good preparation for, such as corporate executive, government administrator, investment banker, entrepreneur, or journalist.[93] In developing countries like India, a large majority of law students never actually practice, but simply use their law degree as a foundation for careers in other fields.[94] In most civil law countries, lawyers generally structure their legal education around their chosen specialty; the boundaries between different types of lawyers are carefully defined and hard to cross. After one earns a law degree, career mobility may be severely constrained.[95] For example, unlike their American counterparts,[96] it is difficult for German judges to leave the bench and become advocates in private practice.[97] Another interesting example is France, where for much of the 20th century, all magistrates were graduates of an elite professional school for judges. Although the French magistracy has begun experimenting with the Anglo-American model of appointing judges from accomplished advocates, the few advocates who have actually joined the bench this way are looked down upon by their colleagues who have taken the traditional route to magistracy.[98] In a few civil law countries, such as Sweden,[99] the legal profession is not rigorously bifurcated and everyone within it can easily change roles and arenas. [edit] Specialization In many countries, lawyers are general practitioners who will take almost any kind of case that walks in the door.[100] In others, there has been a tendency since the start of the 20th century for lawyers to specialize early in their careers.[101][102] In countries where specialization is prevalent, many lawyers specialize in representing one side in one particular area of the law; thus, it is common in the United States to hear of plaintiffs' personal injury attorneys.[103] [edit] Organization Main article: Law firm Lawyers in private practice generally work in specialized businesses known as law firms,[104] with the exception of English barristers. The vast majority of law firms worldwide are small businesses that range in size from 1 to 10 lawyers.[105] The United States, with its large number of firms with more than 50 lawyers, is an exception.[106] The United Kingdom and Australia are also exceptions, as the UK, Australia and the U.S. are now home to several firms with more than 1,000 lawyers after a wave of mergers in the late 1990s. Notably, barristers in England and Wales and some states in Australia do not work in "law firms". Those who offer their services to the general public?as opposed to those working "in house"?are required to be self-employed.[107] Most work in groupings known as "sets" or "chambers", where some administrative and marketing costs are shared. An important effect of this different organizational structure is that there is no conflict of interest where barristers in the same chambers work for opposing sides in a case, and in some specialised chambers this is commonplace. [edit] Professional associations and regulation [edit] Mandatory licensing and membership in professional organizations In some jurisdictions, either the judiciary[108] or the Ministry of Justice[109] directly supervises the admission, licensing, and regulation of lawyers. Other jurisdictions, by statute, tradition, or court order, have granted such powers to a professional association which all lawyers must belong to.[110] In the U.S., such associations are known as mandatory, integrated, or unified bar associations. In the Commonwealth of Nations, similar organizations are known as Inns of Court, bar councils or law societies.[111] In civil law countries, comparable organizations are known as Orders of Advocates,[112] Chambers of Advocates,[113] Colleges of Advocates,[114] Faculties of Advocates,[115] or similar names. Generally, a nonmember caught practicing law may be liable for the crime of unauthorized practice of law.[116] In common law countries with divided legal professions, barristers traditionally belong to the bar council (or an Inn of Court) and solicitors belong to the law society. In the English-speaking world, the largest mandatory professional association of lawyers is the State Bar of California, with 200,000 members. Some countries admit and regulate lawyers at the national level, so that a lawyer, once licensed, can argue cases in any court in the land. This is common in small countries like New Zealand, Japan, and Belgium.[117] Others, especially those with federal governments, tend to regulate lawyers at the state or provincial level; this is the case in the United States,[118] Canada,[119] Australia,[120] and Switzerland,[121] to name a few. Brazil is the most well-known federal government that regulates lawyers at the national level.[122] Some countries, like Italy, regulate lawyers at the regional level,[123] and a few, like Belgium, even regulate them at the local level (that is, they are licensed and regulated by the local equivalent of bar associations but can advocate in courts nationwide).[124] In Germany, lawyers are admitted to regional bars and may appear for clients before all courts nationwide with the exception of the Federal Court of Justice of Germany (Bundesgerichtshof or BGH); oddly, securing admission to the BGH's bar limits a lawyer's practice solely to the supreme federal courts and the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany.[125] Generally, geographic limitations can be troublesome for a lawyer who discovers that his client's cause requires him to litigate in a court beyond the normal geographic scope of his license. Although most courts have special pro hac vice rules for such occasions, the lawyer will still have to deal with a different set of professional responsibility rules, as well as the possibility of other differences in substantive and procedural law. Some countries grant licenses to non-resident lawyers, who may then appear regularly on behalf of foreign clients. Others require all lawyers to live in the jurisdiction or to even hold national citizenship as a prerequisite for receiving a license to practice. But the trend in industrialized countries since the 1970s has been to abolish citizenship and residency restrictions. For example, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down a citizenship requirement on equality rights grounds in 1989,[126] and similarly, American citizenship and residency requirements were struck down as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 and 1985, respectively.[127] The European Court of Justice made similar decisions in 1974 and 1977 striking down citizenship restrictions in Belgium and France.[128] [edit] Who regulates lawyers A key difference among countries is whether lawyers should be regulated solely by an independent judiciary and its subordinate institutions (a self-regulating legal profession),[129] or whether lawyers should be subject to supervision by the Ministry of Justice in the executive branch. In most civil law countries, the government has traditionally exercised tight control over the legal profession in order to ensure a steady supply of loyal judges and bureaucrats. That is, lawyers were expected first and foremost to serve the state, and the availability of counsel for private litigants was an afterthought.[130] Even in civil law countries like Norway which have partially self-regulating professions, the Ministry of Justice is the sole issuer of licenses, and makes its own independent re-evaluation of a lawyer's fitness to practice after a lawyer has been expelled from the Advocates' Association.[109] Brazil is an unusual exception in that its national Order of Advocates has become a fully self-regulating institution (with direct control over licensing) and has successfully resisted government attempts to place it under the control of the Ministry of Labor.[131][132] Of all the civil law countries, Communist countries historically went the farthest towards total state control, with all Communist lawyers forced to practice in collectives by the mid-1950s.[133][134] China is a prime example: technically, the People's Republic of China did not have lawyers, and instead had only poorly-trained, state-employed "legal workers," prior to the enactment of a comprehensive reform package in 1996 by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.[135] In contrast, common law lawyers have traditionally regulated themselves through institutions where the influence of non-lawyers, if any, was weak and indirect (despite nominal state control).[136] Such institutions have been traditionally dominated by private practitioners who opposed strong state control of the profession on the grounds that it would endanger the ability of lawyers to zealously and competently advocate their clients' causes in the adversarial system of justice.[137] However, the concept of the self-regulating profession has been criticized as a sham which serves to legitimize the professional monopoly while protecting the profession from public scrutiny.[138] Disciplinary mechanisms have been astonishingly ineffective, and penalties have been light or nonexistent.[139][140][141] [edit] Voluntary associations of lawyers Lawyers are always free to form voluntary associations of their own, apart from any licensing or mandatory membership that may be required by the laws of their jurisdiction. Like their mandatory counterparts, such organizations may exist at all geographic levels.[86][142] In American English, such associations are known as voluntary bar associations.[143] The largest voluntary professional association of lawyers in the English-speaking world is the American Bar Association. In some countries, like France and Italy, lawyers have also formed trade unions.[144] [edit] Cultural perception of lawyers Hostility towards the legal profession is a widespread phenomenon. The legal profession was abolished in Prussia in 1780 and in France in 1789, though both countries eventually realized that their judicial systems could not function efficiently without lawyers.[145] Complaints about too many lawyers were common in both England and the United States in the 1840s[146][147] Germany in the 1910s,[148] and in Australia,[149] Canada,[150] the United States,[151][152][153] and Scotland[154] in the 1980s. Public distrust of lawyers reached record heights in the United States after the Watergate scandal.[153][155] In the aftermath of Watergate, legal self-help books became popular among those who wished to solve their legal problems without having to deal with lawyers.[156] Lawyer jokes (already a perennial favorite) also soared in popularity in English-speaking North America as a result of Watergate.[157] In 1989, American legal self-help publisher Nolo Press published a 171-page compilation of negative anecdotes about lawyers from throughout human history.[158] In Adventures in Law and Justice (2003), legal researcher Bryan Horrigan dedicated a chapter to "Myths, Fictions, and Realities" about law and illustrated the perennial criticism of lawyers as "amoral [...] guns for hire"[159] with a quote from Ambrose Bierce's satirical The Devil's Dictionary (1911) that summarized the noun as: "LAWYER, n. One skilled in circumvention of the law."[160] More generally, in Legal Ethics: A Comparative Study (2004), law professor Geoffrey C. Hazard, Jr. with Angelo Dondi briefly examined the "regulations attempting to suppress lawyer misconduct" and noted that their similarity around the world was paralleled by a "remarkable consistency" in certain "persistant grievances" about lawyers that transcends both time and locale, from the Bible to medieval England to dynastic China.[161] The authors then generalized these common complaints about lawyers as being classified into five "general categories" as follows: ? * abuse of litigation in various ways, including using dilatory tactics and false evidence and making frivolous arguments to the courts; * preparation of false documentation, such as false deeds, contracts, or wills; * deceiving clients and other persons and misappropriating property; * procrastination in dealings with clients; and * charging excessive fees.[161] ? [edit] Compensation Main article: Attorney's fee Lawyers are paid for their work in a variety of ways. In private practice, they may work for an hourly fee according to a billable hour structure,[162] a contingency fee[163] (usually in cases involving personal injury), or a lump sum payment if the matter is straightforward. Normally, most lawyers negotiate a written fee agreement up front and may require a non-refundable retainer in advance. In many countries there are fee-shifting arrangements by which the loser must pay the winner's fees and costs; the United States is the major exception,[164] although in turn, its legislators have carved out many exceptions to the so-called "American Rule" of no fee shifting. Lawyers working directly on the payroll of governments, nonprofits, and corporations usually earn a regular annual salary.[165] In many countries, with the notable exception of Germany,[166] lawyers can also volunteer their labor in the service of worthy causes through an arrangement called pro bono (for the common good).[167] Traditionally such work was performed on behalf of the poor, but in some countries it has now expanded to many other causes such as the environment. In some countries, there are legal aid lawyers who specialize in providing legal services to the indigent.[168][169] France and Spain even have formal fee structures by which lawyers are compensated by the government for legal aid cases on a per-case basis.[170] A similar system, though not as extensive or generous, operates in Australia, Canada, as well as South Africa.[citation needed] In other countries, legal aid specialists are practically nonexistent. This may be because non-lawyers are allowed to provide such services; in both Italy and Belgium, trade unions and political parties provide what can be characterized as legal aid services.[171] Some legal aid in Belgium is also provided by young lawyer apprentices subsidized by local bar associations (known as the pro deo system), as well as consumer protection nonprofit organizations and Public Assistance Agencies subsidized by local governments.[172] In Germany, mandatory fee structures have enabled widespread implementation of affordable legal expense insurance.[173] [edit] History Main article: History of the legal profession 16th century painting of a civil law notary, by Flemish painter Quentin Massys. A civil law notary is roughly analogous to a common law solicitor, except that, unlike solicitors, civil law notaries do not practice litigation to any degree. [edit] Ancient Greece The earliest people who could be described as "lawyers" were probably the orators of ancient Athens (see History of Athens). However, Athenian orators faced serious structural obstacles. First, there was a rule that individuals were supposed to plead their own cases, which was soon bypassed by the increasing tendency of individuals to ask a "friend" for assistance.[174] However, around the middle of the fourth century, the Athenians disposed of the perfunctory request for a friend.[175] Second, a more serious obstacle, which the Athenian orators never completely overcame, was the rule that no one could take a fee to plead the cause of another. This law was widely disregarded in practice, but was never abolished, which meant that orators could never present themselves as legal professionals or experts.[176] They had to uphold the legal fiction that they were merely an ordinary citizen generously helping out a friend for free, and thus they could never organize into a real profession?with professional associations and titles and all the other pomp and circumstance?like their modern counterparts.[177] Therefore, if one narrows the definition to those men who could practice the legal profession openly and legally, then the first lawyers would have to be the orators of ancient Rome.[178] [edit] Early Ancient Rome A law enacted in 204 BC barred Roman advocates from taking fees, but the law was widely ignored.[179] The ban on fees was abolished by Emperor Claudius, who legalized advocacy as a profession and allowed the Roman advocates to become the first lawyers who could practice openly?but he also imposed a fee ceiling of 10,000 sesterces.[180] This was apparently not much money; the Satires of Juvenal complain that there was no money in working as an advocate.[181] Like their Greek contemporaries, early Roman advocates were trained in rhetoric, not law, and the judges before whom they argued were also not law-trained.[182] But very early on, unlike Athens, Rome developed a class of specialists who were learned in the law, known as jurisconsults (iuris consulti).[183] Jurisconsults were wealthy amateurs who dabbled in law as an intellectual hobby; they did not make their primary living from it.[183] They gave legal opinions (responsa) on legal issues to all comers (a practice known as publice respondere).[184] Roman judges and governors would routinely consult with an advisory panel of jurisconsults before rendering a decision, and advocates and ordinary people also went to jurisconsults for legal opinions.[183] Thus, the Romans were the first to have a class of people who spent their days thinking about legal problems, and this is why their law became so "precise, detailed, and technical."[183] [edit] Late Ancient Rome During the Roman Republic and the early Roman Empire, jurisconsults and advocates were unregulated, since the former were amateurs and the latter were technically illegal.[185] Any citizen could call himself an advocate or a legal expert, though whether people believed him would depend upon his personal reputation. This changed once Claudius legalized the legal profession. By the start of the Byzantine Empire, the legal profession had become well-established, heavily regulated, and highly stratified.[186] The centralization and bureaucratization of the profession was apparently gradual at first, but accelerated during the reign of Emperor Hadrian.[187] At the same time, the jurisconsults went into decline during the imperial period.[188] In the words of Fritz Schulz, "by the fourth century things had changed in the eastern Empire: advocates now were really lawyers."[189] For example, by the fourth century, advocates had to be enrolled on the bar of a court to argue before it, they could only be attached to one court at a time, and there were restrictions (which came and went depending upon who was emperor) on how many advocates could be enrolled at a particular court.[190] By the 380s, advocates were studying law in addition to rhetoric (thus reducing the need for a separate class of jurisconsults); in 460, Emperor Leo imposed a requirement that new advocates seeking admission had to produce testimonials from their teachers; and by the sixth century, a regular course of legal study lasting about four years was required for admission.[191] Claudius's fee ceiling lasted all the way into the Byzantine period, though by then it was measured at 100 solidi.[192] Of course, it was widely evaded, either through demands for maintenance and expenses or a sub rosa barter transaction.[192] The latter was cause for disbarment.[192] The notaries (tabelliones) appeared in the late Roman Empire. Like their modern-day descendants, the civil law notaries, they were responsible for drafting wills, conveyances, and contracts.[193] They were ubiquitous and most villages had one.[193] In Roman times, notaries were widely considered to be inferior to advocates and jurisconsults.[193] Roman notaries were not law-trained; they were barely literate hacks who wrapped the simplest transactions in mountains of legal jargon, since they were paid by the line.[194] [edit] Middle Ages After the fall of the western Empire and the onset of the Dark Ages, the legal profession of Western Europe collapsed. As James Brundage has explained: "[by 1140], no one in Western Europe could properly be described as a professional lawyer or a professional canonist in anything like the modern sense of the term 'professional.' "[195] However, from 1150 onward, a small but increasing number of men became experts in canon law but only in furtherance of other occupational goals, such as serving the Roman Catholic Church as priests.[196] From 1190 to 1230, however, there was a crucial shift in which some men began to practice canon law as a lifelong profession in itself.[197] The legal profession's return was marked by the renewed efforts of church and state to regulate it. In 1231 two French councils mandated that lawyers had to swear an oath of admission before practicing before the bishop's courts in their regions, and a similar oath was promulgated by the papal legate in London in 1237.[198] During the same decade, Frederick II, the emperor of the Kingdom of Sicily, imposed a similar oath in his civil courts.[199] By 1250 the nucleus of a new legal profession had clearly formed.[200] The new trend towards professionalization culminated in a controversial proposal at the Second Council of Lyon in 1275 that all ecclesiastical courts should require an oath of admission.[201] Although not adopted by the council, it was highly influential in many such courts throughout Europe.[201] The civil courts in England also joined the trend towards professionalization; in 1275 a statute was enacted that prescribed punishment for professional lawyers guilty of deceit, and in 1280 the mayor's court of the city of London promulgated regulations concerning admission procedures, including the administering of an oath.[202] [edit] Titles Generally speaking, the modern practice is for lawyers to avoid use of any title, although formal practice varies across the world. Historically lawyers in most European countries were addressed with the title of doctor, and countries outside of Europe have generally followed the practice of the European country which had policy influence through "modernization" or "colonialization." The first university degrees, starting with the law school of the University of Bologna (or glossators) in the 11th century, were all law degrees and doctorates.[203] Degrees in other fields did not start until the 13th century, but the doctor continued to be the only degree offered at many of the old universities until the 20th century. Therefore, in many of the southern European countries, including Portugal, Spain and Italy,,[204] lawyers have traditionally been addressed as ?doctor,? a practice which was transferred to many countries in South America[205] (including Macau in China).[206] Because the law degrees are no longer doctorate level degrees, the formal ?doctor? title for lawyers is either seen as archaic or incorrect, although it is still a legal title in Italy and in use in many countries outside of Europe.[207] The title of doctor has never been used to address lawyers in England or other common law countries (with the exception of the United States). This is because until 1846 lawyers in England were not required to have a university degree and were trained by other attorneys by apprenticeship or in the Inns of Court.[208] Since law degrees started to become a requirement for lawyers in England, the degree awarded has been the undergraduate LL.B. Even though most lawyers in the United States do not use any titles, the law degree in that country is the Juris Doctor, a professional doctorate degree,[209] and some J.D. holders in the United States use the title of "Doctor" in professional[210] and academic situations.[211] In countries where holders of the first law degree traditionally use the title of doctor (e.g. Peru, Brazil, Macau, Portugal, Argentina, and Italy),[212] J.D. holders who are attorneys will often use the title of doctor as well.[213] It is not uncommon for English-language lawyers, especially in the United States, to use the honorific suffix "Esq." (for "Esquire"), irrespective of whether the lawyer is male or female.[214] In many Asian countries, the proper title for a lawyer is simply, "lawyer", but holders of the Juris Doctor degree are also called "??" (doctor). Myocardial infarction Myocardial infarction (MI) or acute myocardial infarction (AMI), commonly known as a heart attack, is the interruption of blood supply to part of the heart, causing some heart cells to die. This is most commonly due to occlusion (blockage) of a coronary artery following the rupture of a vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque, which is an unstable collection of lipids (like cholesterol) and white blood cells (especially macrophages) in the wall of an artery. The resulting ischemia (restriction in blood supply) and oxygen shortage, if left untreated for a sufficient period of time, can cause damage or death (infarction) of heart muscle tissue (myocardium). Classical symptoms of acute myocardial infarction include sudden chest pain (typically radiating to the left arm or left side of the neck), shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, palpitations, sweating, and anxiety (often described as a sense of impending doom). Women may experience fewer typical symptoms than men, most commonly shortness of breath, weakness, a feeling of indigestion, and fatigue.[1] Approximately one quarter of all myocardial infarctions are silent, without chest pain or other symptoms. A heart attack is a medical emergency, and people experiencing chest pain are advised to alert their emergency medical services because prompt protection with an external defibrillator can save your life from primary ventricular fibrillation which occurs unexpectedly in 10% of all myocardial infarctions especially during the first hours of symptoms. Contemporary treatment of many myocardial infarctions can result in survival and even good outcomes. While it is true that certain less amenable cases are very massive and rapidly fatal "widowmakers", it is also true that in small attacks with limited damage and optimal treatment the heart muscle can be salvaged. Heart attacks are the leading cause of death for both men and women all over the world.[2] Important risk factors are previous cardiovascular disease (such as angina, a previous heart attack or stroke), older age (especially men over 40 and women over 50), tobacco smoking, high blood levels of certain lipids (triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein or "bad cholesterol") and low levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL, "good cholesterol"), diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, chronic kidney disease, heart failure, excessive alcohol consumption, the abuse of certain drugs (such as cocaine and methamphetamine), and chronic high stress levels.[3][4] Immediate treatment for suspected acute myocardial infarction includes oxygen, aspirin, and sublingual glyceryl trinitrate (colloquially referred to as nitroglycerin and abbreviated as NTG or GTN). Pain relief is also often given, classically morphine sulfate.[5] However, a 2009 review about the use of high flow oxygen for treating myocardial infarction found its administration increased mortality and infarct size, calling into question the recommendation for its routine use.[6] The patient will receive a number of diagnostic tests, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG), a chest X-ray and blood tests to detect elevations in cardiac markers (blood tests to detect heart muscle damage). The most often used markers are the creatine kinase-MB (CK-MB) fraction and the troponin I (TnI) or troponin T (TnT) levels. On the basis of the ECG, a distinction is made between ST elevation MI (STEMI) or non-ST elevation MI (NSTEMI). Most cases of STEMI are treated with thrombolysis or if possible with percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI, angioplasty and stent insertion), provided the hospital has facilities for coronary angiography. NSTEMI is managed with medication, although PCI is often performed during hospital admission. In patients who have multiple blockages and who are relatively stable, or in a few extraordinary emergency cases, bypass surgery of the blocked coronary artery is an option. The phrase "heart attack" is sometimes used incorrectly to describe sudden cardiac death, which may or may not be the result of acute myocardial infarction. A heart attack is different from, but can be the cause of cardiac arrest, which is the stopping of the heartbeat, and cardiac arrhythmia, an abnormal heartbeat. It is also distinct from heart failure, in which the pumping action of the heart is impaired; severe myocardial infarction may lead to heart failure, but not necessarily. Classification There are two basic types of acute myocardial infarction, (1) transmural MI- IS associated with atherosclerosis involving major coronary artery. It can be subclassified into anterior,posterior or inferior. (2) subendocardial MI- involves small area, in the subendocardial wall of the left ventricle,ventricular septum,papillary muscles. Clinically, myocardial infarction is further subclassified into ST elevation MI versus non ST elevation MI based on ECG changes. [edit] Signs and symptoms Rough diagram of pain zones in myocardial infarction (dark red = most typical area, light red = other possible areas, view of the chest). Back view. The onset of symptoms in myocardial infarction (MI) is usually gradual, over several minutes, and rarely instantaneous.[7] Chest pain is the most common symptom of acute myocardial infarction and is often described as a sensation of tightness, pressure, or squeezing. Chest pain due to ischemia (a lack of blood and hence oxygen supply) of the heart muscle is termed angina pectoris. Pain radiates most often to the left arm, but may also radiate to the lower jaw, neck, right arm, back, and epigastrium, where it may mimic heartburn. Levine's sign, in which the patient localizes the chest pain by clenching their fist over the sternum, has classically been thought to be predictive of cardiac chest pain, although a prospective observational study showed that it had a poor positive predictive value.[8] Shortness of breath (dyspnea) occurs when the damage to the heart limits the output of the left ventricle, causing left ventricular failure and consequent pulmonary edema. Other symptoms include diaphoresis (an excessive form of sweating), weakness, light-headedness, nausea, vomiting, and palpitations. These symptoms are likely induced by a massive surge of catecholamines from the sympathetic nervous system[9] which occurs in response to pain and the hemodynamic abnormalities that result from cardiac dysfunction. Loss of consciousness (due to inadequate cerebral perfusion and cardiogenic shock) and even sudden death (frequently due to the development of ventricular fibrillation) can occur in myocardial infarctions. Women and older patients experience atypical symptoms more frequently than their male and younger counterparts.[10] Women also have more symptoms compared to men (2.6 on average vs 1.8 symptoms in men).[10] The most common symptoms of MI in women include dyspnea, weakness, and fatigue. Fatigue, sleep disturbances, and dyspnea have been reported as frequently occurring symptoms which may manifest as long as one month before the actual clinically manifested ischemic event. In women, chest pain may be less predictive of coronary ischemia than in men.[11] Approximately half of all MI patients have experienced warning symptoms such as chest pain prior to the infarction.[12] Approximately one fourth of all myocardial infarctions are silent, without chest pain or other symptoms.[13] These cases can be discovered later on electrocardiograms or at autopsy without a prior history of related complaints. A silent course is more common in the elderly, in patients with diabetes mellitus[14] and after heart transplantation, probably because the donor heart is not connected to nerves of the host.[15] In diabetics, differences in pain threshold, autonomic neuropathy, and psychological factors have been cited as possible explanations for the lack of symptoms.[14] Any group of symptoms compatible with a sudden interruption of the blood flow to the heart are called an acute coronary syndrome.[16] The differential diagnosis includes other catastrophic causes of chest pain, such as pulmonary embolism, aortic dissection, pericardial effusion causing cardiac tamponade, tension pneumothorax, and esophageal rupture.[17] [edit] Causes and risk factors Heart attack rates are higher in association with intense exertion, be it psychological stress or physical exertion, especially if the exertion is more intense than the individual usually performs.[18] Quantitatively, the period of intense exercise and subsequent recovery is associated with about a 6-fold higher myocardial infarction rate (compared with other more relaxed time frames) for people who are physically very fit.[18] For those in poor physical condition, the rate differential is over 35-fold higher.[18] One observed mechanism for this phenomenon is the increased arterial pulse pressure stretching and relaxation of arteries with each heart beat which, as has been observed with intravascular ultrasound, increases mechanical "shear stress" on atheromas and the likelihood of plaque rupture.[18] Acute severe infection, such as pneumonia, can trigger myocardial infarction. A more controversial link is that between Chlamydophila pneumoniae infection and atherosclerosis.[19] While this intracellular organism has been demonstrated in atherosclerotic plaques, evidence is inconclusive as to whether it can be considered a causative factor.[19] Treatment with antibiotics in patients with proven atherosclerosis has not demonstrated a decreased risk of heart attacks or other coronary vascular diseases.[20] There is an association of an increased incidence of a heart attack in the morning hours, more specifically around 9 a.m. [21][22][23]. Some investigators have noticed that the ability of platelets to aggregate varies according to a circadian rhythm, although they have not proven causation.[24] Some investigators theorize that this increased incidence may be related to the circadian variation in cortisol production affecting the concentrations of various cytokines and other mediators of inflammation.[25] [edit] Risk factors Risk factors for atherosclerosis are generally risk factors for myocardial infarction: * Diabetes (with or without insulin resistance) - the single most important risk factor for ischaemic heart disease (IHD) * Tobacco smoking * Hypercholesterolemia (more accurately hyperlipoproteinemia, especially high low density lipoprotein and low high density lipoprotein) * High blood pressure * Family history of ischaemic heart disease (IHD) * Obesity[26] (defined by a body mass index of more than 30 kg/m?, or alternatively by waist circumference or waist-hip ratio). * Age Men acquire an independent risk factor at age 45, Women acquire an independent risk factor at age 55; in addition individuals acquire another independent risk factor if they have a first-degree male relative (brother,father)who suffered a coronary vascular event at or before age 55. Another independent risk factor is acquired if one has a first-degree female relative (mother,sister) who suffered a coronary vascular event at age 65 or younger. * Hyperhomocysteinemia (high homocysteine, a toxic blood amino acid that is elevated when intakes of vitamins B2, B6, B12 and folic acid are insufficient) * Stress (occupations with high stress index are known to have susceptibility for atherosclerosis) * Alcohol Studies show that prolonged exposure to high quantities of alcohol can increase the risk of heart attack Males are more at risk than females.[18] Many of these risk factors are modifiable, so many heart attacks can be prevented by maintaining a healthier lifestyle. Physical activity, for example, is associated with a lower risk profile.[27] Non-modifiable risk factors include age, sex, and family history of an early heart attack (before the age of 60), which is thought of as reflecting a genetic predisposition.[18] Socioeconomic factors such as a shorter education and lower income (particularly in women), and unmarried cohabitation may also contribute to the risk of MI.[28] To understand epidemiological study results, it's important to note that many factors associated with MI mediate their risk via other factors. For example, the effect of education is partially based on its effect on income and marital status.[28] Women who use combined oral contraceptive pills have a modestly increased risk of myocardial infarction, especially in the presence of other risk factors, such as smoking.[29] Inflammation is known to be an important step in the process of atherosclerotic plaque formation.[30] C-reactive protein (CRP) is a sensitive but non-specific marker for inflammation. Elevated CRP blood levels, especially measured with high sensitivity assays, can predict the risk of MI, as well as stroke and development of diabetes.[30] Moreover, some drugs for MI might also reduce CRP levels.[30] The use of high sensitivity CRP assays as a means of screening the general population is advised against, but it may be used optionally at the physician's discretion, in patients who already present with other risk factors or known coronary artery disease.[31] Whether CRP plays a direct role in atherosclerosis remains uncertain.[30] Inflammation in periodontal disease may be linked coronary heart disease, and since periodontitis is very common, this could have great consequences for public health.[32] Serological studies measuring antibody levels against typical periodontitis-causing bacteria found that such antibodies were more present in subjects with coronary heart disease.[33] Periodontitis tends to increase blood levels of CRP, fibrinogen and cytokines;[34] thus, periodontitis may mediate its effect on MI risk via other risk factors.[35] Preclinical research suggests that periodontal bacteria can promote aggregation of platelets and promote the formation of foam cells.[36][37] A role for specific periodontal bacteria has been suggested but remains to be established.[38] Baldness, hair greying, a diagonal earlobe crease (Frank's sign[39]) and possibly other skin features have been suggested as independent risk factors for MI.[40] Their role remains controversial; a common denominator of these signs and the risk of MI is supposed, possibly genetic. [41] Calcium deposition is another part of atherosclerotic plaque formation. Calcium deposits in the coronary arteries can be detected with CT scans. Several studies have shown that coronary calcium can provide predictive information beyond that of classical risk factors.[42][43][44] [edit] Pathophysiology A myocardial infarction occurs when an atherosclerotic plaque slowly builds up in the inner lining of a coronary artery and then suddenly ruptures, totally occluding the artery and preventing blood flow downstream. Main article: Acute coronary syndrome Acute myocardial infarction refers to two subtypes of acute coronary syndrome, namely non-ST-elevated myocardial infarction and ST-elevated myocardial infarction, which are most frequently (but not always) a manifestation of coronary artery disease. The most common triggering event is the disruption of an atherosclerotic plaque in an epicardial coronary artery, which leads to a clotting cascade, sometimes resulting in total occlusion of the artery. Atherosclerosis is the gradual buildup of cholesterol and fibrous tissue in plaques in the wall of arteries (in this case, the coronary arteries), typically over decades. Blood stream column irregularities visible on angiography reflect artery lumen narrowing as a result of decades of advancing atherosclerosis. Plaques can become unstable, rupture, and additionally promote a thrombus (blood clot) that occludes the artery; this can occur in minutes. When a severe enough plaque rupture occurs in the coronary vasculature, it leads to myocardial infarction (necrosis of downstream myocardium). If impaired blood flow to the heart lasts long enough, it triggers a process called the ischemic cascade; the heart cells in the territory of the occluded coronary artery die (chiefly through necrosis) and do not grow back. A collagen scar forms in its place. Recent studies indicate that another form of cell death called apoptosis also plays a role in the process of tissue damage subsequent to myocardial infarction.[45] As a result, the patient's heart will be permanently damaged. This Myocardial scarring also puts the patient at risk for potentially life threatening arrhythmias, and may result in the formation of a ventricular aneurysm that can rupture with catastrophic consequences. Injured heart tissue conducts electrical impulses more slowly than normal heart tissue. The difference in conduction velocity between injured and uninjured tissue can trigger re-entry or a feedback loop that is believed to be the cause of many lethal arrhythmias. The most serious of these arrhythmias is ventricular fibrillation (V-Fib/VF), an extremely fast and chaotic heart rhythm that is the leading cause of sudden cardiac death. Another life threatening arrhythmia is ventricular tachycardia (V-Tach/VT), which may or may not cause sudden cardiac death. However, ventricular tachycardia usually results in rapid heart rates that prevent the heart from pumping blood effectively. Cardiac output and blood pressure may fall to dangerous levels, which can lead to further coronary ischemia and extension of the infarct. The cardiac defibrillator is a device that was specifically designed to terminate these potentially fatal arrhythmias. The device works by delivering an electrical shock to the patient in order to depolarize a critical mass of the heart muscle, in effect "rebooting" the heart. This therapy is time dependent, and the odds of successful defibrillation decline rapidly after the onset of cardiopulmonary arrest. [edit] Diagnosis The diagnosis of myocardial infarction is made by integrating the history of the presenting illness and physical examination with electrocardiogram findings and cardiac markers (blood tests for heart muscle cell damage).[46] A coronary angiogram allows visualization of narrowings or obstructions on the heart vessels, and therapeutic measures can follow immediately. At autopsy, a pathologist can diagnose a myocardial infarction based on anatomopathological findings. A chest radiograph and routine blood tests may indicate complications or precipitating causes and are often performed upon arrival to an emergency department. New regional wall motion abnormalities on an echocardiogram are also suggestive of a myocardial infarction. Echo may be performed in equivocal cases by the on-call cardiologist.[47] In stable patients whose symptoms have resolved by the time of evaluation, technetium-99m 2-methoxyisobutylisonitrile (Tc99m MIBI) or thallium-201 chloride can be used in nuclear medicine to visualize areas of reduced blood flow in conjunction with physiologic or pharmocologic stress.[47][48] Thallium may also be used to determine viability of tissue, distinguishing whether non-functional myocardium is actually dead or merely in a state of hibernation or of being stunned.[49] [edit] Diagnostic criteria WHO criteria[50] formulated in 1979 have classically been used to diagnose MI; a patient is diagnosed with myocardial infarction if two (probable) or three (definite) of the following criteria are satisfied: 1. Clinical history of ischaemic type chest pain lasting for more than 20 minutes 2. Changes in serial ECG tracings 3. Rise and fall of serum cardiac biomarkers such as creatine kinase-MB fraction and troponin The WHO criteria were refined in 2000 to give more prominence to cardiac biomarkers.[51] According to the new guidelines, a cardiac troponin rise accompanied by either typical symptoms, pathological Q waves, ST elevation or depression or coronary intervention are diagnostic of MI. [edit] Physical examination The general appearance of patients may vary according to the experienced symptoms; the patient may be comfortable, or restless and in severe distress with an increased respiratory rate. A cool and pale skin is common and points to vasoconstriction. Some patients have low-grade fever (38?39 ?C). Blood pressure may be elevated or decreased, and the pulse can be become irregular.[52][53] If heart failure ensues, elevated jugular venous pressure and hepatojugular reflux, or swelling of the legs due to peripheral edema may be found on inspection. Rarely, a cardiac bulge with a pace different from the pulse rhythm can be felt on precordial examination. Various abnormalities can be found on auscultation, such as a third and fourth heart sound, systolic murmurs, paradoxical splitting of the second heart sound, a pericardial friction rub and rales over the lung.[52][54] [edit] Electrocardiogram Main article: Electrocardiogram 12-lead electrocardiogram showing ST-segment elevation (orange) in I, aVL and V1-V5 with reciprocal changes (blue) in the inferior leads, indicative of an anterior wall myocardial infarction. The primary purpose of the electrocardiogram is to detect ischemia or acute coronary injury in broad, symptomatic emergency department populations. However, the standard 12 lead ECG has several limitations. An ECG represents a brief sample in time. Because unstable ischemic syndromes have rapidly changing supply versus demand characteristics, a single ECG may not accurately represent the entire picture.[55] It is therefore desirable to obtain serial 12 lead ECGs, particularly if the first ECG is obtained during a pain-free episode. Alternatively, many emergency departments and chest pain centers use computers capable of continuous ST segment monitoring.[56] The standard 12 lead ECG also does not directly examine the right ventricle, and is relatively poor at examining the posterior basal and lateral walls of the left ventricle. In particular, acute myocardial infarction in the distribution of the circumflex artery is likely to produce a nondiagnostic ECG.[55] The use of additional ECG leads like right-sided leads V3R and V4R and posterior leads V7, V8, and V9 may improve sensitivity for right ventricular and posterior myocardial infarction. In spite of these limitations, the 12 lead ECG stands at the center of risk stratification for the patient with suspected acute myocardial infarction. Mistakes in interpretation are relatively common, and the failure to identify high risk features has a negative effect on the quality of patient care.[57] The 12 lead ECG is used to classify patients into one of three groups:[58] 1. those with ST segment elevation or new bundle branch block (suspicious for acute injury and a possible candidate for acute reperfusion therapy with thrombolytics or primary PCI), 2. those with ST segment depression or T wave inversion (suspicious for ischemia), and 3. those with a so-called non-diagnostic or normal ECG. A normal ECG does not rule out acute myocardial infarction. Sometimes the earliest presentation of acute myocardial infarction is the hyperacute T wave, which is treated the same as ST segment elevation.[59] In practice this is rarely seen, because it only exists for 2?30 minutes after the onset of infarction.[60] Hyperacute T waves need to be distinguished from the peaked T waves associated with hyperkalemia.[61] The current guidelines for the ECG diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction require at least 1 mm (0.1 mV) of ST segment elevation in the limb leads, and at least 2 mm elevation in the precordial leads. These elevations must be present in anatomically contiguous leads.[58] (I, aVL, V5, V6 correspond to the lateral wall; V1-V4 correspond to the anterior wall; II, III, aVF correspond to the inferior wall.) This criterion is problematic, however, as acute myocardial infarction is not the most common cause of ST segment elevation in chest pain patients.[62] Over 90% of healthy men have at least 1 mm (0.1 mV) of ST segment elevation in at least one precordial lead.[63] The clinician must therefore be well versed in recognizing the so-called ECG mimics of acute myocardial infarction, which include left ventricular hypertrophy, left bundle branch block, paced rhythm, early repolarization, pericarditis, hyperkalemia, and ventricular aneurysm.[63][64][65] [edit] Cardiac markers Main article: Cardiac marker Cardiac markers or cardiac enzymes are proteins that leak out of injured myocardial cells through their damaged cell membranes into the bloodstream. Until the 1980s, the enzymes SGOT and LDH were used to assess cardiac injury. Now, the markers most widely used in detection of MI are MB subtype of the enzyme creatine kinase and cardiac troponins T and I as they are more specific for myocardial injury. The cardiac troponins T and I which are released within 4?6 hours of an attack of MI and remain elevated for up to 2 weeks, have nearly complete tissue specificity and are now the preferred markers for asssessing myocardial damage.[66] Elevated troponins in the setting of chest pain may accurately predict a high likelihood of a myocardial infarction in the near future.[67] New markers such as glycogen phosphorylase isoenzyme BB are under investigation.[68] The diagnosis of myocardial infarction requires two out of three components (history, ECG, and enzymes). When damage to the heart occurs, levels of cardiac markers rise over time, which is why blood tests for them are taken over a 24-hour period. Because these enzyme levels are not elevated immediately following a heart attack, patients presenting with chest pain are generally treated with the assumption that a myocardial infarction has occurred and then evaluated for a more precise diagnosis.[69] [edit] Angiography Angiogram of the coronary arteries. Main article: Coronary catheterization In difficult cases or in situations where intervention to restore blood flow is appropriate, coronary angiography can be performed. A catheter is inserted into an artery (usually the femoral artery) and pushed to the vessels supplying the heart. A radio-opaque dye is administered through the catheter and a sequence of x-rays (fluoroscopy) is performed. Obstructed or narrowed arteries can be identified, and angioplasty applied as a therapeutic measure (see below). Angioplasty requires extensive skill, especially in emergency settings. It is performed by a physician trained in interventional cardiology. [edit] Histopathology Further information: Timeline of myocardial infarction pathology Microscopy image (magn. ca 100x, H&E stain) from autopsy specimen of myocardial infarct (7 days post-infarction). Histopathological examination of the heart may reveal infarction at autopsy. Under the microscope, myocardial infarction presents as a circumscribed area of ischemic, coagulative necrosis (cell death). On gross examination, the infarct is not identifiable within the first 12 hours.[70] Micrograph of a myocardial infarction (ca. 400x H&E stain ) with prominent contraction band necrosis. Although earlier changes can be discerned using electron microscopy, one of the earliest changes under a normal microscope are so-called wavy fibers.[71] Subsequently, the myocyte cytoplasm becomes more eosinophilic (pink) and the cells lose their transversal striations, with typical changes and eventually loss of the cell nucleus.[72] The interstitium at the margin of the infarcted area is initially infiltrated with neutrophils, then with lymphocytes and macrophages, who phagocytose ("eat") the myocyte debris. The necrotic area is surrounded and progressively invaded by granulation tissue, which will replace the infarct with a fibrous (collagenous) scar (which are typical steps in wound healing). The interstitial space (the space between cells outside of blood vessels) may be infiltrated with red blood cells.[70] These features can be recognized in cases where the perfusion was not restored; reperfused infarcts can have other hallmarks, such as contraction band necrosis.[73] [edit] Prevention The risk of a recurrent myocardial infarction decreases with strict blood pressure management and lifestyle changes, chiefly smoking cessation, regular exercise, a sensible diet for patients with heart disease, and limitation of alcohol intake. Patients are usually commenced on several long-term medications post-MI, with the aim of preventing secondary cardiovascular events such as further myocardial infarctions, congestive heart failure or cerebrovascular accident (CVA). Unless contraindicated, such medications may include:[74][75] * Antiplatelet drug therapy such as aspirin and/or clopidogrel should be continued to reduce the risk of plaque rupture and recurrent myocardial infarction. Aspirin is first-line, owing to its low cost and comparable efficacy, with clopidogrel reserved for patients intolerant of aspirin. The combination of clopidogrel and aspirin may further reduce risk of cardiovascular events, however the risk of hemorrhage is increased.[76] * Beta blocker therapy such as metoprolol or carvedilol should be commenced.[77] These have been particularly beneficial in high-risk patients such as those with left ventricular dysfunction and/or continuing cardiac ischaemia.[78] ?-Blockers decrease mortality and morbidity. They also improve symptoms of cardiac ischemia in NSTEMI. * ACE inhibitor therapy should be commenced 24?48 hours post-MI in hemodynamically-stable patients, particularly in patients with a history of MI, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, anterior location of infarct (as assessed by ECG), and/or evidence of left ventricular dysfunction. ACE inhibitors reduce mortality, the development of heart failure, and decrease ventricular remodelling post-MI.[79] * Statin therapy has been shown to reduce mortality and morbidity post-MI.[80][81] The effects of statins may be more than their LDL lowering effects. The general consensus is that statins have plaque stabilization and multiple other ("pleiotropic") effects that may prevent myocardial infarction in addition to their effects on blood lipids.[82] * The aldosterone antagonist agent eplerenone has been shown to further reduce risk of cardiovascular death post-MI in patients with heart failure and left ventricular dysfunction, when used in conjunction with standard therapies above.[83] * Omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish, have been shown to reduce mortality post-MI.[84] While the mechanism by which these fatty acids decrease mortality is unknown, it has been postulated that the survival benefit is due to electrical stabilization and the prevention of ventricular fibrillation.[85] However, further studies in a high-risk subset have not shown a clear-cut decrease in potentially fatal arrhythmias due to omega-3 fatty acids.[86][87] [edit] Management A heart attack is a medical emergency which demands both immediate attention and activation of the emergency medical services. The ultimate goal of the management in the acute phase of the disease is to salvage as much myocardium as possible and prevent further complications. As time passes, the risk of damage to the heart muscle increases; hence the phrase that in myocardial infarction, "time is muscle," and "time wasted is muscle lost".[88] Oxygen, aspirin, glyceryl trinitrate (nitroglycerin) and analgesia are usually administered as soon as possible. In many areas, first responders are trained to administer these prior to arrival at the hospital. Morphine is classically used if nitroglycerin is not effective due to its ability to dilate blood vessels, which may aid in blood flow to the heart as well as relieve pain. Morphine may also cause hypotension (usually in the setting of hypovolemia), and should be avoided in the case of right ventricular infarction. Moreover, the CRUSADE trial demonstrated an increase in mortality with administering morphine in the setting of NSTEMI.[89] A 2009 review of high flow oxygen in myocardial infarction found increased mortality and infarct size, calling into question the recommendation about its routine use.[90] Of the front line agents, aspirin and streptokinase have been shown to markedly reduce mortality.[91] Streptokinase activates plasminogen, which is fibrinolytic (see section on thrombolysis below). Once the diagnosis of myocardial infarction is confirmed, other pharmacologic agents are often given. These include beta blockers,[92][93] anticoagulation (typically with heparin),[94] and possibly additional antiplatelet agents such as clopidogrel.[94] While these agents can decrease mortality in the setting of an acute myocardial infarction, they can lead to complications and potentially death if used in the wrong setting.[citation needed] Cocaine associated myocardial infarction should be managed in a manner similar to other patients with acute coronary syndrome except beta blockers should not be used and benzodiazepines should be administered early.[95] The treatment itself may have complications. If attempts to restore the blood flow are initiated after a critical period of only a few hours, the result may be a reperfusion injury instead of amelioration.[96] [edit] First aid As myocardial infarction is a common medical emergency, the signs are often part of first aid courses. The emergency action principles also apply in the case of myocardial infarction. When symptoms of myocardial infarction occur, people wait an average of three hours, instead of doing what is recommended: calling for help immediately.[97][98] Acting immediately by calling the emergency services can save your life for two reasons. First and most importantly, the emergency services can immedialetely save your life from primary ventricular fibrillation which occurs unexpectedly in more than 10% of all infarction especially during the first hour of symptoms and second, immediate treatment of myocardial infarction can prevent sustained damage to the heart ("time is muscle").[88] Certain positions allow the patient to rest in a position which minimizes breathing difficulties. A half-sitting position with knees bent is often recommended. Access to more oxygen can be given by opening the window and widening the collar for easier breathing. Aspirin can be given quickly (if the patient is not allergic to aspirin); but taking aspirin before calling the emergency medical services may be associated with unwanted delay.[99] Aspirin has an antiplatelet effect which inhibits formation of further thrombi (blood clots) that clog arteries. Chewing is the preferred method of administration, so that the Aspirin can be absorbed quickly. Dissolved soluble preparations or sublingual administration can also be used. U.S. guidelines recommend a dose of 162?325 mg.[94] Australian guidelines recommend a dose of 150?300 mg.[74] Glyceryl trinitrate (nitroglycerin) sublingually (under the tongue) can be given if available. If an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available the rescuer should immediately bring the AED to the patient's side and be prepared to follow its instructions, especially should the victim lose consciousness. If possible the rescuer should obtain basic information from the victim, in case the patient is unable to answer questions once emergency medical technicians arrive. The victim's name and any information regarding the nature of the victim's pain will be useful to health care providers. The exact time that these symptoms started may be critical for determining what interventions can be safely attempted once the victim reaches the medical center. Other useful pieces of information include what the patient was doing at the onset of symptoms, and anything else that might give clues to the pathology of the chest pain. It is also very important to relay any actions that have been taken, such as the number or dose of aspirin or nitroglycerin given, to the EMS personnel. Other general first aid principles include monitoring pulse, breathing, level of consciousness and, if possible, the blood pressure of the patient. In case of cardiac arrest, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can be administered. [edit] Automatic external defibrillation (AED) Since the publication of data showing that the availability of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in public places may significantly increase chances of survival, many of these have been installed in public buildings, public transport facilities, and in non-ambulance emergency vehicles (e.g. police cars and fire engines). AEDs analyze the heart's rhythm and determine whether the rhythm is amenable to defibrillation ("shockable"), as in ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation. [edit] Emergency services Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems vary considerably in their ability to evaluate and treat patients with suspected acute myocardial infarction. Some provide as little as first aid and early defibrillation. Others employ highly trained paramedics with sophisticated technology and advanced protocols.[100] Early access to EMS is promoted by a 9-1-1 system currently available to 90% of the population in the United States.[100] Most are capable of providing oxygen, IV access, sublingual nitroglycerine, morphine, and aspirin. Some are capable of providing thrombolytic therapy in the prehospital setting.[101][102] With primary PCI emerging as the preferred therapy for ST segment elevation myocardial infarction, EMS can play a key role in reducing door to balloon intervals (the time from presentation to a hospital ER to the restoration of coronary artery blood flow) by performing a 12 lead ECG in the field and using this information to triage the patient to the most appropriate medical facility.[103][104][105][106] In addition, the 12 lead ECG can be transmitted to the receiving hospital, which enables time saving decisions to be made prior to the patient's arrival. This may include a "cardiac alert" or "STEMI alert" that calls in off duty personnel in areas where the cardiac cath lab is not staffed 24 hours a day.[107] Even in the absence of a formal alerting program, prehospital 12 lead ECGs are independently associated with reduced door to treatment intervals in the emergency department.[108] [edit] Reperfusion The concept of reperfusion has become so central to the modern treatment of acute myocardial infarction, that we are said to be in the reperfusion era.[109][110] Patients who present with suspected acute myocardial infarction and ST segment elevation (STEMI) or new bundle branch block on the 12 lead ECG are presumed to have an occlusive thrombosis in an epicardial coronary artery. They are therefore candidates for immediate reperfusion, either with thrombolytic therapy, percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) or when these therapies are unsuccessful, bypass surgery. Individuals without ST segment elevation are presumed to be experiencing either unstable angina (UA) or non-ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI). They receive many of the same initial therapies and are often stabilized with antiplatelet drugs and anticoagulated. If their condition remains (hemodynamically) stable, they can be offered either late coronary angiography with subsequent restoration of blood flow (revascularization), or non-invasive stress testing to determine if there is significant ischemia that would benefit from revascularization. If hemodynamic instability develops in individuals with NSTEMIs, they may undergo urgent coronary angiography and subsequent revascularization. The use of thrombolytic agents is contraindicated in this patient subset, however.[111] The basis for this distinction in treatment regimens is that ST segment elevations on an ECG are typically due to complete occlusion of a coronary artery. On the other hand, in NSTEMIs there is typically a sudden narrowing of a coronary artery with preserved (but diminished) flow to the distal myocardium. Anticoagulation and antiplatelet agents are given to prevent the narrowed artery from occluding. At least 10% of patients with STEMI don't develop myocardial necrosis (as evidenced by a rise in cardiac markers) and subsequent Q waves on EKG after reperfusion therapy. Such a successful restoration of flow to the infarct-related artery during an acute myocardial infarction is known as "aborting" the myocardial infarction. If treated within the hour, about 25% of STEMIs can be aborted.[112] [edit] Thrombolytic therapy Main article: Thrombolysis Thrombolytic therapy is indicated for the treatment of STEMI if the drug can be administered within 12 hours of the onset of symptoms, the patient is eligible based on exclusion criteria, and primary PCI is not immediately available.[94] The effectiveness of thrombolytic therapy is highest in the first 2 hours. After 12 hours, the risk associated with thrombolytic therapy outweighs any benefit.[111][113] Because irreversible injury occurs within 2?4 hours of the infarction, there is a limited window of time available for reperfusion to work. Thrombolytic drugs are contraindicated for the treatment of unstable angina and NSTEMI[111][114] and for the treatment of individuals with evidence of cardiogenic shock.[115] Although no perfect thrombolytic agent exists, an ideal thrombolytic drug would lead to rapid reperfusion, have a high sustained patency rate, be specific for recent thrombi, be easily and rapidly administered, create a low risk for intra-cerebral and systemic bleeding, have no antigenicity, adverse hemodynamic effects, or clinically significant drug interactions, and be cost effective.[116] Currently available thrombolytic agents include streptokinase, urokinase, and alteplase (recombinant tissue plasminogen activator, rtPA). More recently, thrombolytic agents similar in structure to rtPA such as reteplase and tenecteplase have been used. These newer agents boast efficacy at least as good as rtPA with significantly easier administration. The thrombolytic agent used in a particular individual is based on institution preference and the age of the patient. Depending on the thrombolytic agent being used, adjuvant anticoagulation with heparin or low molecular weight heparin may be of benefit.[117][118] With TPa and related agents (reteplase and tenecteplase), heparin is needed to maintain coronary artery patency. Because of the anticoagulant effect of fibrinogen depletion with streptokinase[119] and urokinase[120][121][122] treatment, it is less necessary there.[117] Intracranial bleeding (ICB) and subsequent cerebrovascular accident (CVA) is a serious side effect of thrombolytic use. The risk of ICB is dependent on a number of factors, including a previous episode of intracranial bleed, age of the individual, and the thrombolytic regimen that is being used. In general, the risk of ICB due to thrombolytic use for the treatment of an acute myocardial infarction is between 0.5 and 1 percent.[117] Thrombolytic therapy to abort a myocardial infarction is not always effective. The degree of effectiveness of a thrombolytic agent is dependent on the time since the myocardial infarction began, with the best results occurring if the thrombolytic agent is used within two hours of the onset of symptoms.[102][123] If the individual presents more than 12 hours after symptoms commenced, the risk of intracranial bleed are considered higher than the benefits of the thrombolytic agent.[124] Failure rates of thrombolytics can be as high as 20% or higher.[125] In cases of failure of the thrombolytic agent to open the infarct-related coronary artery, the patient is then either treated conservatively with anticoagulants and allowed to "complete the infarction" or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI, see below) is then performed. Percutaneous coronary intervention in this setting is known as "rescue PCI" or "salvage PCI". Complications, particularly bleeding, are significantly higher with rescue PCI than with primary PCI due to the action of the thrombolytic agent. [edit] Percutaneous coronary intervention Main article: Percutaneous coronary intervention Thrombus material (in a cup, upper left corner) removed from a coronary artery during a percutaneous coronary intervention to abort a myocardial infarction. Five pieces of thrombus are shown (arrow heads). The benefit of prompt, expertly performed primary percutaneous coronary intervention over thrombolytic therapy for acute ST elevation myocardial infarction is now well established.[126][127][128] When performed rapidly by an experienced team, primary PCI restores flow in the culprit artery in more than 95% of patients compared with the spontaneous recanalization rate of about 65%.[126] Logistic and economic obstacles seem to hinder a more widespread application of percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) via cardiac catheterization,[129] although the feasibility of regionalized PCI for STEMI is currently being explored in the United States.[130] The use of percutaneous coronary intervention as a therapy to abort a myocardial infarction is known as primary PCI. The goal of primary PCI is to open the artery as soon as possible, and preferably within 90 minutes of the patient presenting to the emergency room. This time is referred to as the door-to-balloon time. Few hospitals can provide PCI within the 90 minute interval,[131] which prompted the American College of Cardiology (ACC) to launch a national Door to Balloon (D2B) Initiative in November 2006. Over 800 hospitals have joined the D2B Alliance as of March 16, 2007.[132] One particularly successful implementation of a primary PCI protocol is in the Calgary Health Region under the auspices of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta. Under this model, EMS teams responding to an emergency electronically transmit the ECG directly to a digital archiving system that allows emergency room physicians and/or cardiologists to immediately confirm the diagnosis. This in turn allows for redirection of the EMS teams to facilities prepped to conduct time-critical angioplasty, based on the ECG analysis. In an article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in June 2007, the Calgary implementation resulted in a median time to treatment of 62 minutes.[133] The current guidelines in the United States restrict primary PCI to hospitals with available emergency bypass surgery as a backup,[94] but this is not the case in other parts of the world.[134] Primary PCI involves performing a coronary angiogram to determine the anatomical location of the infarcting vessel, followed by balloon angioplasty (and frequently deployment of an intracoronary stent) of the thrombosed arterial segment. In some settings, an extraction catheter may be used to attempt to aspirate (remove) the thrombus prior to balloon angioplasty. While the use of intracoronary stents do not improve the short term outcomes in primary PCI, the use of stents is widespread because of the decreased rates of procedures to treat restenosis compared to balloon angioplasty.[135] Adjuvant therapy during primary PCI includes intravenous heparin, aspirin, and clopidogrel. Glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors are often used in the setting of primary PCI to reduce the risk of ischemic complications during the procedure.[136][137] Due to the number of antiplatelet agents and anticoagulants used during primary PCI, the risk of bleeding associated with the procedure is higher than during an elective PCI.[138] [edit] Coronary artery bypass surgery Main article: Coronary artery bypass graft surgery Coronary artery bypass surgery during mobilization (freeing) of the right coronary artery from its surrounding tissue, adipose tissue (yellow). The tube visible at the bottom is the aortic cannula (returns blood from the HLM). The tube above it (obscured by the surgeon on the right) is the venous cannula (receives blood from the body). The patient's heart is stopped and the aorta is cross-clamped. The patient's head (not seen) is at the bottom. Despite the guidelines, emergency bypass surgery for the treatment of an acute myocardial infarction (MI) is less common than PCI or medical management. In an analysis of patients in the U.S. National Registry of Myocardial Infarction (NRMI) from January 1995 to May 2004, the percentage of patients with cardiogenic shock treated with primary PCI rose from 27.4% to 54.4%, while the increase in CABG treatment was only from 2.1% to 3.2%.[139] Emergency coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) is usually undertaken to simultaneously treat a mechanical complication, such as a ruptured papillary muscle, or a ventricular septal defect, with ensueing cardiogenic shock.[140] In uncomplicated MI, the mortality rate can be high when the surgery is performed immediately following the infarction.[141] If this option is entertained, the patient should be stabilized prior to surgery, with supportive interventions such as the use of an intra-aortic balloon pump.[142] In patients developing cardiogenic shock after a myocardial infarction, both PCI and CABG are satisfactory treatment options, with similar survival rates.[143][144] Coronary artery bypass surgery involves an artery or vein from the patient being implanted to bypass narrowings or occlusions on the coronary arteries. Several arteries and veins can be used, however internal mammary artery grafts have demonstrated significantly better long-term patency rates than great saphenous vein grafts.[145] In patients with two or more coronary arteries affected, bypass surgery is associated with higher long-term survival rates compared to percutaneous interventions.[146] In patients with single vessel disease, surgery is comparably safe and effective, and may be a treatment option in selected cases.[147] Bypass surgery has higher costs initially, but becomes cost-effective in the long term.[148] A surgical bypass graft is more invasive initially but bears less risk of recurrent procedures (but these may be again minimally invasive).[147] [edit] Monitoring for arrhythmias Additional objectives are to prevent life-threatening arrhythmias or conduction disturbances. This requires monitoring in a coronary care unit and protocolised administration of antiarrhythmic agents. Antiarrhythmic agents are typically only given to individuals with life-threatening arrhythmias after a myocardial infarction and not to suppress the ventricular ectopy that is often seen after a myocardial infarction.[149][150][151] [edit] Austere environments Wilderness first aid In wilderness first aid, a possible heart attack justifies evacuation by the fastest available means, including MEDEVAC, even in the earliest or precursor stages. The patient will rapidly be incapable of further exertion and have to be carried out. Air travel Certified personnel traveling by commercial aircraft may be able to assist an MI patient by using the on-board first aid kit, which may contain some cardiac drugs (such as glyceryl trinitrate spray, aspirin, or opioid painkillers), an AED,[152] and oxygen. Pilots may divert the flight to land at a nearby airport. Cardiac monitors are being introduced by some airlines, and they can be used by both on-board and ground-based physicians.[153] [edit] Rehabilitation Cardiac rehabilitation aims to optimize function and quality of life in those afflicted with a heart disease. This can be with the help of a physician, or in the form of a cardiac rehabilitation program.[154] Physical exercise is an important part of rehabilitation after a myocardial infarction, with beneficial effects on cholesterol levels, blood pressure, weight, stress and mood.[154] Some patients become afraid of exercising because it might trigger another infarct.[155] Patients are stimulated to exercise, and should only avoid certain exerting activities. Local authorities may place limitations on driving motorised vehicles.[156] Some people are afraid to have sex after a heart attack. Most people can resume sexual activities after 3 to 4 weeks. The amount of activity needs to be dosed to the patient's possibilities.[157] [edit] New therapies under investigation Patients who receive stem cell treatment by coronary artery injections of stem cells derived from their own bone marrow after a myocardial infarction (MI) show improvements in left ventricular ejection fraction and end-diastolic volume not seen with placebo. The larger the initial infarct size, the greater the effect of the infusion. Clinical trials of progenitor cell infusion as a treatment approach to ST elevation MI are proceeding.[158] There are currently 3 biomaterial and tissue engineering approaches for the treatment of MI, but these are in an even earlier stage of medical research, so many questions and issues need to be addressed before they can be applied to patients. The first involves polymeric left ventricular restraints in the prevention of heart failure. The second utilizes in vitro engineered cardiac tissue, which is subsequently implanted in vivo. The final approach entails injecting cells and/or a scaffold into the myocardium to create in situ engineered cardiac tissue.[159] [edit] Complications Complications may occur immediately following the heart attack (in the acute phase), or may need time to develop (a chronic problem). After an infarction, an obvious complication is a second infarction, which may occur in the domain of another atherosclerotic coronary artery, or in the same zone if there are any live cells left in the infarct. [edit] Congestive heart failure Main article: Congestive heart failure A myocardial infarction may compromise the function of the heart as a pump for the circulation, a state called heart failure. There are different types of heart failure; left- or right-sided (or bilateral) heart failure may occur depending on the affected part of the heart, and it is a low-output type of failure. If one of the heart valves is affected, this may cause dysfunction, such as mitral regurgitation in the case of left-sided coronary occlusion that disrupts the blood supply of the papillary muscles. The incidence of heart failure is particularly high in patients with diabetes and requires special management strategies.[160] [edit] Myocardial rupture Main article: Myocardial rupture Myocardial rupture is most common three to five days after myocardial infarction, commonly of small degree, but may occur one day to three weeks later. In the modern era of early revascularization and intensive pharmacotherapy as treatment for MI, the incidence of myocardial rupture is about 1% of all MIs.[161] This may occur in the free walls of the ventricles, the septum between them, the papillary muscles, or less commonly the atria. Rupture occurs because of increased pressure against the weakened walls of the heart chambers due to heart muscle that cannot pump blood out effectively. The weakness may also lead to ventricular aneurysm, a localized dilation or ballooning of the heart chamber. Risk factors for myocardial rupture include completion of infarction (no revascularization performed), female sex, advanced age, and a lack of a previous history of myocardial infarction.[161] In addition, the risk of rupture is higher in individuals who are revascularized with a thrombolytic agent than with PCI.[162][163] The shear stress between the infarcted segment and the surrounding normal myocardium (which may be hypercontractile in the post-infarction period) makes it a nidus for rupture.[164] Rupture is usually a catastrophic event that may result a life-threatening process known as cardiac tamponade, in which blood accumulates within the pericardium or heart sac, and compresses the heart to the point where it cannot pump effectively. Rupture of the intraventricular septum (the muscle separating the left and right ventricles) causes a ventricular septal defect with shunting of blood through the defect from the left side of the heart to the right side of the heart, which can lead to right ventricular failure as well as pulmonary overcirculation. Rupture of the papillary muscle may also lead to acute mitral regurgitation and subsequent pulmonary edema and possibly even cardiogenic shock. [edit] Life-threatening arrhythmia A 12 lead electrocardiogram showing ventricular tachycardia. Since the electrical characteristics of the infarcted tissue change (see pathophysiology section), arrhythmias are a frequent complication.[165] The re-entry phenomenon may cause rapid heart rates (ventricular tachycardia and even ventricular fibrillation), and ischemia in the electrical conduction system of the heart may cause a complete heart block (when the impulse from the sinoatrial node, the normal cardiac pacemaker, does not reach the heart chambers).[166][167] [edit] Pericarditis Main article: Pericarditis As a reaction to the damage of the heart muscle, inflammatory cells are attracted. The inflammation may reach out and affect the heart sac. This is called pericarditis. In Dressler's syndrome, this occurs several weeks after the initial event. [edit] Cardiogenic shock A complication that may occur in the acute setting soon after a myocardial infarction or in the weeks following it is cardiogenic shock. Cardiogenic shock is defined as a hemodynamic state in which the heart cannot produce enough of a cardiac output to supply an adequate amount of oxygenated blood to the tissues of the body. While the data on performing interventions on individuals with cardiogenic shock is sparse, trial data suggests a long-term mortality benefit in undergoing revascularization if the individual is less than 75 years old and if the onset of the acute myocardial infarction is less than 36 hours and the onset of cardiogenic shock is less than 18 hours.[115] If the patient with cardiogenic shock is not going to be revascularized, aggressive hemodynamic support is warranted, with insertion of an intra-aortic balloon pump if not contraindicated.[115] If diagnostic coronary angiography does not reveal a culprit blockage that is the cause of the cardiogenic shock, the prognosis is poor.[115] [edit] Prognosis The prognosis for patients with myocardial infarction varies greatly, depending on the patient, the condition itself and the given treatment. Using simple variables which are immediately available in the emergency room, patients with a higher risk of adverse outcome can be identified. For example, one study found that 0.4% of patients with a low risk profile had died after 90 days, whereas the mortality rate in high risk patients was 21.1%.[168] For the period 2005 - 2008 in the United States the median mortality at 30 days was 16.6% with a range from 10.9% to 24.9% depending on the hospital which one looks at.[169] Although studies differ in the identified variables, some of the more reproduced risk stratifiers include age, hemodynamic parameters (such as heart failure, cardiac arrest on admission, systolic blood pressure, or Killip class of two or greater), ST-segment deviation, diabetes, serum creatinine concentration, peripheral vascular disease and elevation of cardiac markers.[168][170][171] Assessment of left ventricular ejection fraction may increase the predictive power of some risk stratification models.[172] The prognostic importance of Q-waves is debated.[173] Prognosis is significantly worsened if a mechanical complication (papillary muscle rupture, myocardial free wall rupture, and so on) were to occur.[162] There is evidence that case fatality of myocardial infarction has been improving over the years in all ethnicities.[174] [edit] Epidemiology Myocardial infarction is a common presentation of ischemic heart disease. The WHO estimated that in 2002, 12.6 percent of deaths worldwide were from ischemic heart disease.[2] Ischemic heart disease is the leading cause of death in developed countries, but third to AIDS and lower respiratory infections in developing countries.[175] In the United States, diseases of the heart are the leading cause of death, causing a higher mortality than cancer (malignant neoplasms).[176] Coronary heart disease is responsible for 1 in 5 deaths in the U.S.. Some 7,200,000 men and 6,000,000 women are living with some form of coronary heart disease. 1,200,000 people suffer a (new or recurrent) coronary attack every year, and about 40% of them die as a result of the attack.[177] This means that roughly every 65 seconds, an American dies of a coronary event. In India, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death.[178] The deaths due to CVD in India were 32% of all deaths in 2007 and are expected to rise from 1.17 million in 1990 and 1.59 million in 2000 to 2.03 million in 2010.[179] Although a relatively new epidemic in India, it has quickly become a major health issue with deaths due to CVD expected to double during 1985-2015.[180][181] Mortality estimates due to CVD vary widely by state, ranging from 10% in Meghalaya to 49% in Punjab (percentage of all deaths). Punjab (49%), Goa (42%), Tamil Nadu (36%) and Andhra Pradesh (31%) have the highest CVD related mortality estimates.[182] State-wise differences are correlated with prevalence of specific dietary risk factors in the states. Moderate physical exercise is associated with reduced incidence of CVD in India (those who exercise have less than half the risk of those who don't).[180] CVD also affects Indians at a younger age (in their 30s and 40s) than is typical in other countries. [edit] Legal implications At common law, a myocardial infarction is generally a disease, but may sometimes be an injury. This has implications for no-fault insurance schemes such as workers' compensation. A heart attack is generally not covered;[183] however, it may be a work-related injury if it results, for example, from unusual emotional stress or unusual exertion.[184] Additionally, in some jurisdictions, heart attacks suffered by persons in particular occupations such as police officers may be classified as line-of-duty injuries by statute or policy. In some countries or states, a person who has suffered from a myocardial infarction may be prevented from participating in activity that puts other people's lives at risk, for example driving a car or flying an airplane. [156] insurance for Car ? Home ? Travel ? Pet or anything is hard, but the best way is to compare and beat the trick of the insurers by comparing. Getting a car insurance quote online in the UK can save you a lot of money on your auto insurance. All you need to do is to fill out a simple quick quote provider form, submit it, and the online insurance company will do the rest and generate your car insurance quote within minutes. You should always Compare Car Insurance to find you the best deals as well as Cheap Car Insurance. Online car insurance quotes prevent this from happening. With online quotes, consumers also have the freedom to start, save and complete their insurance applications according to their convenience. 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Serving: California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey, Virginia, Washington, Massachusetts, Indiana, Arizona, Tennessee, Missouri, Maryland, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado, Alabama, South Carolina, Louisiana, Kentucky, Oregon, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Iowa, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, West Virginia, Nebraska, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont, the District of Columbia and Wyoming. ***Certain conditions apply. The Importance of Matching Your Will to Your Whole Life Insurance When setting up all the things you need to get your life in order for your later years, you will want to think about making your will and your life insurance match so that there will be no confusion as to who should get what upon the unfortunate event of your death. There is some possibility for problems to arise if your will and your life insurance policy don?t directly reference one another. The definition of a will means that you can leave certain things to certain people. But a life insurance policy may or may not include the same names. Here is a brief guide to understanding why it is important to make sure that your whole life insurance and your will match. The Will Your will is a legal, binding document that allows you to bequeath your property and money to individuals that you specify. A person?s will often designates one person or family to take over all of the assets of a person?s estate. This is powerful in that it can guarantee that assets stay within a family or go to whomever you have chosen, but it doesn?t necessarily account for all assets. Life insurance beneficiaries may or may not be recognized in a will. While a will is meant to be a definitive legal document for the end of your life, your life insurance policy could contradict it. Unless you understand the importance of matching your will to your whole life insurance, your family could be left with a difficult interpretation to deal with. The Life Insurance Policy Your life insurance policy is a legal contract that guarantees the beneficiary a certain amount of predetermined money when you pass on. You name your beneficiary when you initiate the whole life insurance policy, and the name on the contract is the name that will be paid. But the insurance policy is not automatically tied to your will. The person named as the recipient of your assets in your will might not be the person you assigned as the beneficiary to your life insurance. Avoid this problem now that you know the importance of matching your will to your whole life insurance policy. Designating the Beneficiary of Your Life Insurance in Your Will Under the counsel of a lawyer or a judge, you will want to make sure that your will reflects your specific wishes in regards to the money to be paid from your whole life insurance policy. It is really just a matter of making sure that the legal terminology exists in your will to allow for an easy payment of your life insurance to the person you want as the beneficiary. Avoid giving your family the headache of deciphering a will and a life insurance policy that don?t match. Advantages and Disadvantages with a Group Insurance Plan Group insurance is designed so that employers, unions, and other organizations can get widespread coverage for their members at a reasonable cost. Instead of getting individual coverage for each person in a company or organization, insurance companies offer group plans for the entire group that overall tend to be less expensive. Who Does It Cover? 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UK Mortgage Brokeres offer a range of policies for you to get a quote and buy online. In the market for Mortgage and want to compare Mortgage from different mortgage companies yourself or already know which company you are going to use for the mortgage? Go direct to the source with this list of the leading UK Mortgage Companies sites. More detail about the Mortgage in UK with the complete lisiting of UK companies who provide the best mortgage will come soon, so keep on visiting the site for more update to detail about the Mortgage in UK. Mortgage Brokers in UK I visited this site to get the latest information of Mortgage Brokers in UK. TheUkInfo is very popular to get the latest information of Mortgage Brokers in UK Having a way to bottomless websites relating to United Kingdom is wonderful. Building a site about Mortgage Brokers in UK takes quite a bit of effort. Once you finally understand this, you will be able to research more competently. It is vital that you dig up the top authorities. The most accurate Mortgage Brokers in UK intelligence may take a bit of effort to come upon. It is legitimate that securing accurate material on this matter can be time consuming. It is difficult attempting to consider the time we have invested looking up Mortgage Brokers in UK research. We proud you to take some more time checking out Mortgage Brokers in UK web pages. It can at times become wearisome to sort the acceptable Mortgage Brokers in UK info from the dreadful. If you have any information or material of Mortgage Brokers in UK you can send us to post on this website of the Uk Info. Insurance, in law and economics, is a form of risk management primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent loss. Insurance is defined as the equitable transfer of the risk of a loss, from one entity to another, in exchange for a premium, and can be thought of as a guaranteed and known small loss to prevent a large, possibly devastating loss. An insurer is a company selling the insurance; an insured or policyholder is the person or entity buying the insurance. The insurance rate is a factor used to determine the amount to be charged for a certain amount of insurance coverage, called the premium. Risk management, the practice of appraising and controlling risk, has evolved as a discrete field of study and practice. 1. A large number of homogeneous exposure units. The vast majority of insurance policies are provided for individual members of very large classes. Automobile insurance, for example, covered about 175 million automobiles in the United States in 2004.[2] The existence of a large number of homogeneous exposure units allows insurers to benefit from the so-called ?law of large numbers,? which in effect states that as the number of exposure units increases, the actual results are increasingly likely to become close to expected results. There are exceptions to this criterion. Lloyd's of London is famous for insuring the life or health of actors, actresses and sports figures. Satellite Launch insurance covers events that are infrequent. Large commercial property policies may insure exceptional properties for which there are no ?homogeneous? exposure units. Despite failing on this criterion, many exposures like these are generally considered to be insurable. 2. Definite Loss. The event that gives rise to the loss that is subject to the insured, at least in principle, take place at a known time, in a known place, and from a known cause. The classic example is death of an insured person on a life insurance policy. Fire, automobile accidents, and worker injuries may all easily meet this criterion. Other types of losses may only be definite in theory. Occupational disease, for instance, may involve prolonged exposure to injurious conditions where no specific time, place or cause is identifiable. Ideally, the time, place and cause of a loss should be clear enough that a reasonable person, with sufficient information, could objectively verify all three elements. 3. Accidental Loss. The event that constitutes the trigger of a claim should be fortuitous, or at least outside the control of the beneficiary of the insurance. The loss should be ?pure,? in the sense that it results from an event for which there is only the opportunity for cost. Events that contain speculative elements, such as ordinary business risks, are generally not considered insurable. 4. Large Loss. The size of the loss must be meaningful from the perspective of the insured. Insurance premiums need to cover both the expected cost of losses, plus the cost of issuing and administering the policy, adjusting losses, and supplying the capital needed to reasonably assure that the insurer will be able to pay claims. For small losses these latter costs may be several times the size of the expected cost of losses. There is little point in paying such costs unless the protection offered has real value to a buyer. 5. Affordable Premium. If the likelihood of an insured event is so high, or the cost of the event so large, that the resulting premium is large relative to the amount of protection offered, it is not likely that anyone will buy insurance, even if on offer. Further, as the accounting profession formally recognizes in financial accounting standards, the premium cannot be so large that there is not a reasonable chance of a significant loss to the insurer. If there is no such chance of loss, the transaction may have the form of insurance, but not the substance. (See the U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board standard number 113) 6. Calculable Loss. There are two elements that must be at least estimable, if not formally calculable: the probability of loss, and the attendant cost. Probability of loss is generally an empirical exercise, while cost has more to do with the ability of a reasonable person in possession of a copy of the insurance policy and a proof of loss associated with a claim presented under that policy to make a reasonably definite and objective evaluation of the amount of the loss recoverable as a result of the claim. 7. Limited risk of catastrophically large losses. The essential risk is often aggregation. If the same event can cause losses to numerous policyholders of the same insurer, the ability of that insurer to issue policies becomes constrained, not by factors surrounding the individual characteristics of a given policyholder, but by the factors surrounding the sum of all policyholders so exposed. Typically, insurers prefer to limit their exposure to a loss from a single event to some small portion of their capital base, on the order of 5 percent. Where the loss can be aggregated, or an individual policy could produce exceptionally large claims, the capital constraint will restrict an insurer's appetite for additional policyholders. The classic example is earthquake insurance, where the ability of an underwriter to issue a new policy depends on the number and size of the policies that it has already underwritten. Wind insurance in hurricane zones, particularly along coast lines, is another example of this phenomenon. In extreme cases, the aggregation can affect the entire industry, since the combined capital of insurers and reinsurers can be small compared to the needs of potential policyholders in areas exposed to aggregation risk. In commercial fire insurance it is possible to find single properties whose total exposed value is well in excess of any individual insurer?s capital constraint. Such properties are generally shared among several insurers, or are insured by a single insurer who syndicates the risk into the reinsurance market. Main article: Indemnity The technical definition of "indemnity" means to make whole again. There are two types of insurance contracts; 1. an "indemnity" policy and 2. a "pay on behalf" or "on behalf of"[3] policy. The difference is significant on paper, but rarely material in practice. An "indemnity" policy will never pay claims until the insured has paid out of pocket to some third party; for example, a visitor to your home slips on a floor that you left wet and sues you for $10,000 and wins. Under an "indemnity" policy the homeowner would have to come up with the $10,000 to pay for the visitor's fall and then would be "indemnified" by the insurance carrier for the out of pocket costs (the $10,000)[4]. Under the same situation, a "pay on behalf" policy, the insurance carrier would pay the claim and the insured (the homeowner) would not be out of pocket for anything. Most modern liability insurance is written on the basis of "pay on behalf" language[5]. An entity seeking to transfer risk (an individual, corporation, or association of any type, etc.) becomes the 'insured' party once risk is assumed by an 'insurer', the insuring party, by means of a contract, called an insurance 'policy'. Generally, an insurance contract includes, at a minimum, the following elements: the parties (the insurer, the insured, the beneficiaries), the premium, the period of coverage, the particular loss event covered, the amount of coverage (i.e., the amount to be paid to the insured or beneficiary in the event of a loss), and exclusions (events not covered). An insured is thus said to be "indemnified" against the loss covered in the policy. When insured parties experience a loss for a specified peril, the coverage entitles the policyholder to make a 'claim' against the insurer for the covered amount of loss as specified by the policy. The fee paid by the insured to the insurer for assuming the risk is called the 'premium'. Insurance premiums from many insureds are used to fund accounts reserved for later payment of claims?in theory for a relatively few claimants?and for overhead costs. So long as an insurer maintains adequate funds set aside for anticipated losses (i.e., reserves), the remaining margin is an insurer's profit. Underwriting and investing The business model can be reduced to a simple equation: Profit = earned premium + investment income - incurred loss - underwriting expenses. Insurers make money in two ways: 1. Through underwriting, the process by which insurers select the risks to insure and decide how much in premiums to charge for accepting those risks; 2. By investing the premiums they collect from insured parties. The most complicated aspect of the insurance business is the underwriting of policies. Using a wide assortment of data, insurers predict the likelihood that a claim will be made against their policies and price products accordingly. To this end, insurers use actuarial science to quantify the risks they are willing to assume and the premium they will charge to assume them. Data is analyzed to fairly accurately project the rate of future claims based on a given risk. Actuarial science uses statistics and probability to analyze the risks associated with the range of perils covered, and these scientific principles are used to determine an insurer's overall exposure. Upon termination of a given policy, the amount of premium collected and the investment gains thereon minus the amount paid out in claims is the insurer's underwriting profit on that policy. Of course, from the insurer's perspective, some policies are "winners" (i.e., the insurer pays out less in claims and expenses than it receives in premiums and investment income) and some are "losers" (i.e., the insurer pays out more in claims and expenses than it receives in premiums and investment income); insurance companies essentially use actuarial science to attempt to underwrite enough "winning" policies to pay out on the "losers" while still maintaining profitability. An insurer's underwriting performance is measured in its combined ratio. The loss ratio (incurred losses and loss-adjustment expenses divided by net earned premium) is added to the expense ratio (underwriting expenses divided by net premium written) to determine the company's combined ratio. The combined ratio is a reflection of the company's overall underwriting profitability. A combined ratio of less than 100 percent indicates underwriting profitability, while anything over 100 indicates an underwriting loss. Insurance companies also earn investment profits on ?float?. ?Float? or available reserve is the amount of money, at hand at any given moment, that an insurer has collected in insurance premiums but has not been paid out in claims. Insurers start investing insurance premiums as soon as they are collected and continue to earn interest on them until claims are paid out. The Association of British Insurers (gathering 400 insurance companies and 94% of UK insurance services) has almost 20% of the investments in the London Stock Exchange.[6] In the United States, the underwriting loss of property and casualty insurance companies was $142.3 billion in the five years ending 2003. But overall profit for the same period was $68.4 billion, as the result of float. Some insurance industry insiders, most notably Hank Greenberg, do not believe that it is forever possible to sustain a profit from float without an underwriting profit as well, but this opinion is not universally held. Naturally, the ?float? method is difficult to carry out in an economically depressed period. Bear markets do cause insurers to shift away from investments and to toughen up their underwriting standards. So a poor economy generally means high insurance premiums. This tendency to swing between profitable and unprofitable periods over time is commonly known as the "underwriting" or insurance cycle. [7] Property and casualty insurers currently make the most money from their auto insurance line of business. Generally better statistics are available on auto losses and underwriting on this line of business has benefited greatly from advances in computing. Additionally, property losses in the United States, due to unpredictable natural catastrophes, have exacerbated this trend. [edit] Claims Claims and loss handling is the materialized utility of insurance; it is the actual "product" paid for, though one hopes it will never need to be used. Claims may be filed by insureds directly with the insurer or through brokers or agents. The insurer may require that the claim be filed on its own proprietary forms, or may accept claims on a standard industry form such as those produced by ACORD. Insurance company claim departments employ a large number of claims adjusters supported by a staff of records management and data entry clerks. Incoming claims are classified based on severity and are assigned to adjusters whose settlement authority varies with their knowledge and experience. The adjuster undertakes a thorough investigation of each claim, usually in close cooperation with the insured, determines its reasonable monetary value, and authorizes payment. Adjusting liability insurance claims is particularly difficult because there is a third party involved (the plaintiff who is suing the insured) who is under no contractual obligation to cooperate with the insurer and in fact may regard the insurer as a deep pocket. The adjuster must obtain legal counsel for the insured (either inside "house" counsel or outside "panel" counsel), monitor litigation that may take years to complete, and appear in person or over the telephone with settlement authority at a mandatory settlement conference when requested by the judge. In managing the claims handling function, insurers seek to balance the elements of customer satisfaction, administrative handling expenses, and claims overpayment leakages. As part of this balancing act, fraudulent insurance practices are a major business risk that must be managed and overcome. Disputes between insurers and insureds over the validity of claims or claims handling practices occasionally escalate into litigation; see insurance bad faith. Main article: History of insurance In some sense we can say that insurance appears simultaneously with the appearance of human society. We know of two types of economies in human societies: money economies (with markets, money, financial instruments and so on) and non-money or natural economies (without money, markets, financial instruments and so on). The second type is a more ancient form than the first. In such an economy and community, we can see insurance in the form of people helping each other. For example, if a house burns down, the members of the community help build a new one. Should the same thing happen to one's neighbour, the other neighbours must help. Otherwise, neighbours will not receive help in the future. This type of insurance has survived to the present day in some countries where modern money economy with its financial instruments is not widespread (for example countries in the territory of the former Soviet Union). Turning to insurance in the modern sense (i.e., insurance in a modern money economy, in which insurance is part of the financial sphere), early methods of transferring or distributing risk were practised by Chinese and Babylonian traders as long ago as the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC, respectively.[8] Chinese merchants travelling treacherous river rapids would redistribute their wares across many vessels to limit the loss due to any single vessel's capsizing. The Babylonians developed a system which was recorded in the famous Code of Hammurabi, c. 1750 BC, and practised by early Mediterranean sailing merchants. If a merchant received a loan to fund his shipment, he would pay the lender an additional sum in exchange for the lender's guarantee to cancel the loan should the shipment be stolen or lost at sea. Achaemenian monarchs of Ancient Persia were the first to insure their people and made it official by registering the insuring process in governmental notary offices. The insurance tradition was performed each year in Norouz (beginning of the Iranian New Year); the heads of different ethnic groups as well as others willing to take part, presented gifts to the monarch. The most important gift was presented during a special ceremony. When a gift was worth more than 10,000 Derrik (Achaemenian gold coin) the issue was registered in a special office. This was advantageous to those who presented such special gifts. For others, the presents were fairly assessed by the confidants of the court. Then the assessment was registered in special offices. The purpose of registering was that whenever the person who presented the gift registered by the court was in trouble, the monarch and the court would help him. Jahez, a historian and writer, writes in one of his books on ancient Iran: "[W]henever the owner of the present is in trouble or wants to construct a building, set up a feast, have his children married, etc. the one in charge of this in the court would check the registration. If the registered amount exceeded 10,000 Derrik, he or she would receive an amount of twice as much."[1] A thousand years later, the inhabitants of Rhodes invented the concept of the 'general average'. Merchants whose goods were being shipped together would pay a proportionally divided premium which would be used to reimburse any merchant whose goods were jettisoned during storm or sinkage. The Greeks and Romans introduced the origins of health and life insurance c. 600 AD when they organized guilds called "benevolent societies" which cared for the families and paid funeral expenses of members upon death. Guilds in the Middle Ages served a similar purpose. The Talmud deals with several aspects of insuring goods. Before insurance was established in the late 17th century, "friendly societies" existed in England, in which people donated amounts of money to a general sum that could be used for emergencies. Separate insurance contracts (i.e., insurance policies not bundled with loans or other kinds of contracts) were invented in Genoa in the 14th century, as were insurance pools backed by pledges of landed estates. These new insurance contracts allowed insurance to be separated from investment, a separation of roles that first proved useful in marine insurance. Insurance became far more sophisticated in post-Renaissance Europe, and specialized varieties developed. Some forms of insurance had developed in London by the early decades of the seventeenth century. For example, the will of the English colonist Robert Hayman mentions two "policies of insurance" taken out with the diocesan Chancellor of London, Arthur Duck. Of the value of ?100 each, one relates to the safe arrival of Hayman's ship in Guyana and the other is in regard to "one hundred pounds assured by the said Doctor Arthur Ducke on my life". Hayman's will was signed and sealed on 17 November 1628 but not proved until 1633.[9] Toward the end of the seventeenth century, London's growing importance as a centre for trade increased demand for marine insurance. In the late 1680s, Edward Lloyd opened a coffee house that became a popular haunt of ship owners, merchants, and ships? captains, and thereby a reliable source of the latest shipping news. It became the meeting place for parties wishing to insure cargoes and ships, and those willing to underwrite such ventures. Today, Lloyd's of London remains the leading market (note that it is not an insurance company) for marine and other specialist types of insurance, but it works rather differently than the more familiar kinds of insurance. Insurance as we know it today can be traced to the Great Fire of London, which in 1666 devoured 13,200 houses. In the aftermath of this disaster, Nicholas Barbon opened an office to insure buildings. In 1680, he established England's first fire insurance company, "The Fire Office," to insure brick and frame homes. The first insurance company in the United States underwrote fire insurance and was formed in Charles Town (modern-day Charleston), South Carolina, in 1732. Benjamin Franklin helped to popularize and make standard the practice of insurance, particularly against fire in the form of perpetual insurance. In 1752, he founded the Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire. Franklin's company was the first to make contributions toward fire prevention. Not only did his company warn against certain fire hazards, it refused to insure certain buildings where the risk of fire was too great, such as all wooden houses. In the United States, regulation of the insurance industry is highly Balkanized, with primary responsibility assumed by individual state insurance departments. Whereas insurance markets have become centralized nationally and internationally, state insurance commissioners operate individually, though at times in concert through a national insurance commissioners' organization. In recent years, some have called for a dual state and federal regulatory system (commonly referred to as the Optional federal charter (OFC)) for insurance similar to that which oversees state banks and national banks. Types of insurance Any risk that can be quantified can potentially be insured. Specific kinds of risk that may give rise to claims are known as "perils". An insurance policy will set out in detail which perils are covered by the policy and which are not. Below are (non-exhaustive) lists of the many different types of insurance that exist. A single policy may cover risks in one or more of the categories set out below. For example, auto insurance would typically cover both property risk (covering the risk of theft or damage to the car) and liability risk (covering legal claims from causing an accident). A homeowner's insurance policy in the U.S. typically includes property insurance covering damage to the home and the owner's belongings, liability insurance covering certain legal claims against the owner, and even a small amount of coverage for medical expenses of guests who are injured on the owner's property. Business insurance can be any kind of insurance that protects businesses against risks. Some principal subtypes of business insurance are (a) the various kinds of professional liability insurance, also called professional indemnity insurance, which are discussed below under that name; and (b) the business owner's policy (BOP), which bundles into one policy many of the kinds of coverage that a business owner needs, in a way analogous to how homeowners insurance bundles the coverages that a homeowner needs.[10] Auto insurance protects you against financial loss if you have an accident. It is a contract between you and the insurance company. You agree to pay the premium and the insurance company agrees to pay your losses as defined in your policy. Auto insurance provides property, liability and medical coverage: 1. Property coverage pays for damage to or theft of your car. 2. Liability coverage pays for your legal responsibility to others for bodily injury or property damage. 3. Medical coverage pays for the cost of treating injuries, rehabilitation and sometimes lost wages and funeral expenses. An auto insurance policy comprises six kinds of coverage. Most countries require you to buy some, but not all, of these coverages. If you're financing a car, your lender may also have requirements. Most auto policies are for six months to a year. In the United States, your insurance company should notify you by mail when it?s time to renew the policy and to pay your premium. [11] Main article: Home insurance Home insurance provides compensation for damage or destruction of a home from disasters. In some geographical areas, the standard insurances excludes certain types of disasters, such as flood and earthquakes, that require additional coverage. Maintenance-related problems are the homeowners' responsibility. The policy may include inventory, or this can be bought as a separate policy, especially for people who rent housing. In some countries, insurers offer a package which may include liability and legal responsibility for injuries and property damage caused by members of the household, including pets.[12] [edit] Health Main articles: Health insurance and Dental insurance NHS Facility Health insurance policies by the National Health Service in the United Kingdom (NHS) or other publicly-funded health programs will cover the cost of medical treatments. Dental insurance, like medical insurance, is coverage for individuals to protect them against dental costs. In the U.S., dental insurance is often part of an employer's benefits package, along with health insurance. [edit] Accident, Sickness and Unemployment Insurance * Disability insurance policies provide financial support in the event the policyholder is unable to work because of disabling illness or injury. It provides monthly support to help pay such obligations as mortgages and credit cards. * Disability overhead insurance allows business owners to cover the overhead expenses of their business while they are unable to work. * Total permanent disability insurance provides benefits when a person is permanently disabled and can no longer work in their profession, often taken as an adjunct to life insurance. * Workers' compensation insurance replaces all or part of a worker's wages lost and accompanying medical expenses incurred because of a job-related injury. [edit] Casualty Casualty insurance insures against accidents, not necessarily tied to any specific property. Main article: Casualty insurance * Crime insurance is a form of casualty insurance that covers the policyholder against losses arising from the criminal acts of third parties. For example, a company can obtain crime insurance to cover losses arising from theft or embezzlement. * Political risk insurance is a form of casualty insurance that can be taken out by businesses with operations in countries in which there is a risk that revolution or other political conditions will result in a loss. [edit] Life Main article: Life insurance Life insurance provides a monetary benefit to a decedent's family or other designated beneficiary, and may specifically provide for income to an insured person's family, burial, funeral and other final expenses. Life insurance policies often allow the option of having the proceeds paid to the beneficiary either in a lump sum cash payment or an annuity. Annuities provide a stream of payments and are generally classified as insurance because they are issued by insurance companies and regulated as insurance and require the same kinds of actuarial and investment management expertise that life insurance requires. Annuities and pensions that pay a benefit for life are sometimes regarded as insurance against the possibility that a retiree will outlive his or her financial resources. In that sense, they are the complement of life insurance and, from an underwriting perspective, are the mirror image of life insurance. Certain life insurance contracts accumulate cash values, which may be taken by the insured if the policy is surrendered or which may be borrowed against. Some policies, such as annuities and endowment policies, are financial instruments to accumulate or liquidate wealth when it is needed. In many countries, such as the U.S. and the UK, the tax law provides that the interest on this cash value is not taxable under certain circumstances. This leads to widespread use of life insurance as a tax-efficient method of saving as well as protection in the event of early death. In U.S., the tax on interest income on life insurance policies and annuities is generally deferred. However, in some cases the benefit derived from tax deferral may be offset by a low return. This depends upon the insuring company, the type of policy and other variables (mortality, market return, etc.). Moreover, other income tax saving vehicles (e.g., IRAs, 401(k) plans, Roth IRAs) may be better alternatives for value accumulation. [edit] Property Main article: Property insurance This tornado damage to an Illinois home would be considered an "Act of God" for insurance purposes Property insurance provides protection against risks to property, such as fire, theft or weather damage. This includes specialized forms of insurance such as fire insurance, flood insurance, earthquake insurance, home insurance, inland marine insurance or boiler insurance. * Automobile insurance, known in the UK as motor insurance, is probably the most common form of insurance and may cover both legal liability claims against the driver and loss of or damage to the insured's vehicle itself. Throughout the United States an auto insurance policy is required to legally operate a motor vehicle on public roads. In some jurisdictions, bodily injury compensation for automobile accident victims has been changed to a no-fault system, which reduces or eliminates the ability to sue for compensation but provides automatic eligibility for benefits. Credit card companies insure against damage on rented cars. o Driving School Insurance insurance provides cover for any authorized driver whilst undergoing tuition, cover also unlike other motor policies provides cover for instructor liability where both the pupil and driving instructor are equally liable in the event of a claim. * Aviation insurance insures against hull, spares, deductibles, hull wear and liability risks. * Boiler insurance (also known as boiler and machinery insurance or equipment breakdown insurance) insures against accidental physical damage to equipment or machinery. * Builder's risk insurance insures against the risk of physical loss or damage to property during construction. Builder's risk insurance is typically written on an "all risk" basis covering damage due to any cause (including the negligence of the insured) not otherwise expressly excluded. * Crop insurance "Farmers use crop insurance to reduce or manage various risks associated with growing crops. Such risks include crop loss or damage caused by weather, hail, drought, frost damage, insects, or disease, for instance."[13] * Earthquake insurance is a form of property insurance that pays the policyholder in the event of an earthquake that causes damage to the property. Most ordinary homeowners insurance policies do not cover earthquake damage. Most earthquake insurance policies feature a high deductible. Rates depend on location and the probability of an earthquake, as well as the construction of the home. * A fidelity bond is a form of casualty insurance that covers policyholders for losses that they incur as a result of fraudulent acts by specified individuals. It usually insures a business for losses caused by the dishonest acts of its employees. * Flood insurance protects against property loss due to flooding. Many insurers in the U.S. do not provide flood insurance in some portions of the country. In response to this, the federal government created the National Flood Insurance Program which serves as the insurer of last resort. * Home insurance or homeowners' insurance: See "Property insurance". * Landlord insurance is specifically designed for people who own properties which they rent out. Most house insurance cover in the U.K will not be valid if the property is rented out therefore landlords must take out this specialist form of home insurance. * Marine insurance and marine cargo insurance cover the loss or damage of ships at sea or on inland waterways, and of the cargo that may be on them. When the owner of the cargo and the carrier are separate corporations, marine cargo insurance typically compensates the owner of cargo for losses sustained from fire, shipwreck, etc., but excludes losses that can be recovered from the carrier or the carrier's insurance. Many marine insurance underwriters will include "time element" coverage in such policies, which extends the indemnity to cover loss of profit and other business expenses attributable to the delay caused by a covered loss. * Surety bond insurance is a three party insurance guaranteeing the performance of the principal. * Terrorism insurance provides protection against any loss or damage caused by terrorist activities. * Volcano insurance is an insurance that covers volcano damage in Hawaii. * Windstorm insurance is an insurance covering the damage that can be caused by hurricanes and tropical cyclones. [edit] Liability Main article: Liability insurance Liability insurance is a very broad superset that covers legal claims against the insured. Many types of insurance include an aspect of liability coverage. For example, a homeowner's insurance policy will normally include liability coverage which protects the insured in the event of a claim brought by someone who slips and falls on the property; automobile insurance also includes an aspect of liability insurance that indemnifies against the harm that a crashing car can cause to others' lives, health, or property. The protection offered by a liability insurance policy is twofold: a legal defense in the event of a lawsuit commenced against the policyholder and indemnification (payment on behalf of the insured) with respect to a settlement or court verdict. Liability policies typically cover only the negligence of the insured, and will not apply to results of wilful or intentional acts by the insured. * Public liability insurance covers a business against claims should its operations injure a member of the public or damage their property in some way. * Directors and officers liability insurance protects an organization (usually a corporation) from costs associated with litigation resulting from mistakes made by directors and officers for which they are liable. In the industry, it is usually called "D&O" for short. * Environmental liability insurance protects the insured from bodily injury, property damage and cleanup costs as a result of the dispersal, release or escape of pollutants. * Errors and omissions insurance: See "Professional liability insurance" under "Liability insurance". * Prize indemnity insurance protects the insured from giving away a large prize at a specific event. Examples would include offering prizes to contestants who can make a half-court shot at a basketball game, or a hole-in-one at a golf tournament. * Professional liability insurance, also called professional indemnity insurance, protects insured professionals such as architectural corporation and medical practice against potential negligence claims made by their patients/clients. Professional liability insurance may take on different names depending on the profession. For example, professional liability insurance in reference to the medical profession may be called malpractice insurance. Notaries public may take out errors and omissions insurance (E&O). Other potential E&O policyholders include, for example, real estate brokers, Insurance agents, home inspectors, appraisers, and website developers. [edit] Credit Main article: Credit insurance Credit insurance repays some or all of a loan when certain things happen to the borrower such as unemployment, disability, or death. * Mortgage insurance insures the lender against default by the borrower. Mortgage insurance is a form of credit insurance, although the name credit insurance more often is used to refer to policies that cover other kinds of debt. * Many credit cards offer payment protection plans which are a form of credit insurance. [edit] Other types * Collateral protection insurance or CPI, insures property (primarily vehicles) held as collateral for loans made by lending institutions. * Defense Base Act Workers' compensation or DBA Insurance provides coverage for civilian workers hired by the government to perform contracts outside the U.S. and Canada. DBA is required for all U.S. citizens, U.S. residents, U.S. Green Card holders, and all employees or subcontractors hired on overseas government contracts. Depending on the country, Foreign Nationals must also be covered under DBA. This coverage typically includes expenses related to medical treatment and loss of wages, as well as disability and death benefits. * Expatriate insurance provides individuals and organizations operating outside of their home country with protection for automobiles, property, health, liability and business pursuits. * Financial loss insurance or Business Interruption Insurance protects individuals and companies against various financial risks. For example, a business might purchase coverage to protect it from loss of sales if a fire in a factory prevented it from carrying out its business for a time. Insurance might also cover the failure of a creditor to pay money it owes to the insured. This type of insurance is frequently referred to as "business interruption insurance." Fidelity bonds and surety bonds are included in this category, although these products provide a benefit to a third party (the "obligee") in the event the insured party (usually referred to as the "obligor") fails to perform its obligations under a contract with the obligee. * Kidnap and ransom insurance * Locked funds insurance is a little-known hybrid insurance policy jointly issued by governments and banks. It is used to protect public funds from tamper by unauthorized parties. In special cases, a government may authorize its use in protecting semi-private funds which are liable to tamper. The terms of this type of insurance are usually very strict. Therefore it is used only in extreme cases where maximum security of funds is required. * Nuclear incident insurance covers damages resulting from an incident involving radioactive materials and is generally arranged at the national level. See the Nuclear exclusion clause and for the United States the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act) * Pet insurance insures pets against accidents and illnesses - some companies cover routine/wellness care and burial, as well. * Pollution Insurance which consists of first-party coverage for contamination of insured property either by external or on-site sources. Coverage for liability to third parties arising from contamination of air, water, or land due to the sudden and accidental release of hazardous materials from the insured site. The policy usually covers the costs of cleanup and may include coverage for releases from underground storage tanks. Intentional acts are specifically excluded. * Purchase insurance is aimed at providing protection on the products people purchase. Purchase insurance can cover individual purchase protection, warranties, guarantees, care plans and even mobile phone insurance. Such insurance is normally very limited in the scope of problems that are covered by the policy. * Title insurance provides a guarantee that title to real property is vested in the purchaser and/or mortgagee, free and clear of liens or encumbrances. It is usually issued in conjunction with a search of the public records performed at the time of a real estate transaction. * Travel insurance is an insurance cover taken by those who travel abroad, which covers certain losses such as medical expenses, loss of personal belongings, travel delay, personal liabilities, etc. * Media Insurance is designed to cover professionals that engage in film, video and TV production. * Legal Expenses Insurance covers policyholders against the potential costs of legal action against an institution or an individual. [edit] Insurance financing vehicles * Fraternal insurance is provided on a cooperative basis by fraternal benefit societies or other social organizations.[14] * No-fault insurance is a type of insurance policy (typically automobile insurance) where insureds are indemnified by their own insurer regardless of fault in the incident. * Protected Self-Insurance is an alternative risk financing mechanism in which an organization retains the mathematically calculated cost of risk within the organization and transfers the catastrophic risk with specific and aggregate limits to an insurer so the maximum total cost of the program is known. A properly designed and underwritten Protected Self-Insurance Program reduces and stabilizes the cost of insurance and provides valuable risk management information. * Retrospectively Rated Insurance is a method of establishing a premium on large commercial accounts. The final premium is based on the insured's actual loss experience during the policy term, sometimes subject to a minimum and maximum premium, with the final premium determined by a formula. Under this plan, the current year's premium is based partially (or wholly) on the current year's losses, although the premium adjustments may take months or years beyond the current year's expiration date. The rating formula is guaranteed in the insurance contract. Formula: retrospective premium = converted loss + basic premium ? tax multiplier. Numerous variations of this formula have been developed and are in use. * Formal self insurance is the deliberate decision to pay for otherwise insurable losses out of one's own money. This can be done on a formal basis by establishing a separate fund into which funds are deposited on a periodic basis, or by simply forgoing the purchase of available insurance and paying out-of-pocket. Self insurance is usually used to pay for high-frequency, low-severity losses. Such losses, if covered by conventional insurance, mean having to pay a premium that includes loadings for the company's general expenses, cost of putting the policy on the books, acquisition expenses, premium taxes, and contingencies. While this is true for all insurance, for small, frequent losses the transaction costs may exceed the benefit of volatility reduction that insurance otherwise affords. * Reinsurance is a type of insurance purchased by insurance companies or self-insured employers to protect against unexpected losses. Financial reinsurance is a form of reinsurance that is primarily used for capital management rather than to transfer insurance risk. * Social insurance can be many things to many people in many countries. But a summary of its essence is that it is a collection of insurance coverages (including components of life insurance, disability income insurance, unemployment insurance, health insurance, and others), plus retirement savings, that requires participation by all citizens. By forcing everyone in society to be a policyholder and pay premiums, it ensures that everyone can become a claimant when or if he/she needs to. Along the way this inevitably becomes related to other concepts such as the justice system and the welfare state. This is a large, complicated topic that engenders tremendous debate, which can be further studied in the following articles (and others): o National Insurance o Social safety net o Social security o Social Security debate (United States) o Social Security (United States) o Social welfare provision * Stop-loss insurance provides protection against catastrophic or unpredictable losses. It is purchased by organizations who do not want to assume 100% of the liability for losses arising from the plans. Under a stop-loss policy, the insurance company becomes liable for losses that exceed certain limits called deductibles. [edit] Closed community self-insurance Some communities prefer to create virtual insurance amongst themselves by other means than contractual risk transfer, which assigns explicit numerical values to risk. A number of religious groups, including the Amish and some Muslim groups, depend on support provided by their communities when disasters strike. The risk presented by any given person is assumed collectively by the community who all bear the cost of rebuilding lost property and supporting people whose needs are suddenly greater after a loss of some kind. In supportive communities where others can be trusted to follow community leaders, this tacit form of insurance can work. In this manner the community can even out the extreme differences in insurability that exist among its members. Some further justification is also provided by invoking the moral hazard of explicit insurance contracts. In the United Kingdom, The Crown (which, for practical purposes, meant the Civil service) did not insure property such as government buildings. If a government building was damaged, the cost of repair would be met from public funds because, in the long run, this was cheaper than paying insurance premiums. Since many UK government buildings have been sold to property companies, and rented back, this arrangement is now less common and may have disappeared altogether. [edit] Insurance companies Insurance companies may be classified into two groups: * Life insurance companies, which sell life insurance, annuities and pensions products. * Non-life, General, or Property/Casualty insurance companies, which sell other types of insurance. General insurance companies can be further divided into these sub categories. * Standard Lines * Excess Lines In most countries, life and non-life insurers are subject to different regulatory regimes and different tax and accounting rules. The main reason for the distinction between the two types of company is that life, annuity, and pension business is very long-term in nature ? coverage for life assurance or a pension can cover risks over many decades. By contrast, non-life insurance cover usually covers a shorter period, such as one year. In the United States, standard line insurance companies are "mainstream" insurers. These are the companies that typically insure autos, homes or businesses. They use pattern or "cookie-cutter" policies without variation from one person to the next. They usually have lower premiums than excess lines and can sell directly to individuals. They are regulated by state laws that can restrict the amount they can charge for insurance policies. Excess line insurance companies (aka Excess and Surplus) typically insure risks not covered by the standard lines market. They are broadly referred as being all insurance placed with non-admitted insurers. Non-admitted insurers are not licensed in the states where the risks are located. These companies have more flexibility and can react faster than standard insurance companies because they are not required to file rates and forms as the "admitted" carriers do. However, they still have substantial regulatory requirements placed upon them. State laws generally require insurance placed with surplus line agents and brokers not to be available through standard licensed insurers. Insurance companies are generally classified as either mutual or stock companies. Mutual companies are owned by the policyholders, while stockholders (who may or may not own policies) own stock insurance companies. Demutualization of mutual insurers to form stock companies, as well as the formation of a hybrid known as a mutual holding company, became common in some countries, such as the United States, in the late 20th century. Other possible forms for an insurance company include reciprocals, in which policyholders 'reciprocate' in sharing risks, and Lloyds organizations. Insurance companies are rated by various agencies such as A. M. Best. The ratings include the company's financial strength, which measures its ability to pay claims. It also rates financial instruments issued by the insurance company, such as bonds, notes, and securitization products. Reinsurance companies are insurance companies that sell policies to other insurance companies, allowing them to reduce their risks and protect themselves from very large losses. The reinsurance market is dominated by a few very large companies, with huge reserves. A reinsurer may also be a direct writer of insurance risks as well. Captive insurance companies may be defined as limited-purpose insurance companies established with the specific objective of financing risks emanating from their parent group or groups. This definition can sometimes be extended to include some of the risks of the parent company's customers. In short, it is an in-house self-insurance vehicle. Captives may take the form of a "pure" entity (which is a 100% subsidiary of the self-insured parent company); of a "mutual" captive (which insures the collective risks of members of an industry); and of an "association" captive (which self-insures individual risks of the members of a professional, commercial or industrial association). Captives represent commercial, economic and tax advantages to their sponsors because of the reductions in costs they help create and for the ease of insurance risk management and the flexibility for cash flows they generate. Additionally, they may provide coverage of risks which is neither available nor offered in the traditional insurance market at reasonable prices. The types of risk that a captive can underwrite for their parents include property damage, public and product liability, professional indemnity, employee benefits, employers' liability, motor and medical aid expenses. The captive's exposure to such risks may be limited by the use of reinsurance. Captives are becoming an increasingly important component of the risk management and risk financing strategy of their parent. This can be understood against the following background: * heavy and increasing premium costs in almost every line of coverage; * difficulties in insuring certain types of fortuitous risk; * differential coverage standards in various parts of the world; * rating structures which reflect market trends rather than individual loss experience; * insufficient credit for deductibles and/or loss control efforts. There are also companies known as 'insurance consultants'. Like a mortgage broker, these companies are paid a fee by the customer to shop around for the best insurance policy amongst many companies. Similar to an insurance consultant, an 'insurance broker' also shops around for the best insurance policy amongst many companies. However, with insurance brokers, the fee is usually paid in the form of commission from the insurer that is selected rather than directly from the client. Neither insurance consultants nor insurance brokers are insurance companies and no risks are transferred to them in insurance transactions. Third party administrators are companies that perform underwriting and sometimes claims handling services for insurance companies. These companies often have special expertise that the insurance companies do not have. The financial stability and strength of an insurance company should be a major consideration when buying an insurance contract. An insurance premium paid currently provides coverage for losses that might arise many years in the future. For that reason, the viability of the insurance carrier is very important. In recent years, a number of insurance companies have become insolvent, leaving their policyholders with no coverage (or coverage only from a government-backed insurance pool or other arrangement with less attractive payouts for losses). A number of independent rating agencies, such as Best's, Fitch, Standard & Poor's, and Moody's Investors Service, provide information and rate the financial viability of insurance companies. [edit] Global insurance industry Life insurance premia written in 2005 Non-life insurance premia written in 2005 Global insurance premiums grew by 11% in 2007 (or 3.3% in real terms) to reach $4.1 trillion. The macro-economic environment was characterised by slower economic growth in 2007 and rising inflation. Profitability improved in life insurance and fell slightly in the non-life sector during the year. Life insurance premiums grew by 12.6%, accelerating in the advanced economies with the exception of Japan and Continental Europe. Non-life insurance premiums grew by 7.6% during the year. Figures for premium income are not yet available for 2008, but the insurance industry is likely to see a slowdown in new business and falling investment revenue. Advanced economies account for the bulk of global insurance. With premium income of $1,681bn, Europe was the most important region, followed by North America ($1,330bn) and Asia ($814bn). The top four countries accounted for nearly 60% of premiums in 2007. The US and UK alone accounted for 42% of world insurance, much higher than their 7% share of the global population. Emerging markets accounted for over 85% of the world?s population but generated only around 10% of premiums. [15] [edit] Controversies [edit] Insurance insulates too much By creating a "security blanket" for its insureds, an insurance company may inadvertently find that its insureds may not be as risk-averse as they might otherwise be (since, by definition, the insured has transferred the risk to the insurer,) a concept known as moral hazard. To reduce their own financial exposure, insurance companies have contractual clauses that mitigate their obligation to provide coverage if the insured engages in behavior that grossly magnifies their risk of loss or liability.[citation needed] For example, life insurance companies may require higher premiums or deny coverage altogether to people who work in hazardous occupations or engage in dangerous sports. Liability insurance providers do not provide coverage for liability arising from intentional torts committed by the insured. Even if a provider were so irrational as to want to provide such coverage, it is against the public policy of most countries to allow such insurance to exist, and thus it is usually illegal.[citation needed] [edit] Complexity of insurance policy contracts Insurance policies can be complex and some policyholders may not understand all the fees and coverages included in a policy. As a result, people may buy policies on unfavorable terms. In response to these issues, many countries have enacted detailed statutory and regulatory regimes governing every aspect of the insurance business, including minimum standards for policies and the ways in which they may be advertised and sold. For example, most insurance policies in the English language today have been carefully drafted in plain English; the industry learned the hard way that many courts will not enforce policies against insureds when the judges themselves cannot understand what the policies are saying. Many institutional insurance purchasers buy insurance through an insurance broker. While on the surface it appears the broker represents the buyer (not the insurance company), and typically counsels the buyer on appropriate coverage and policy limitations, it should be noted that in the vast majority of cases a broker's compensation comes in the form of a commission as a percentage of the insurance premium, creating a conflict of interest in that the broker's financial interest is tilted towards encouraging an insured to purchase more insurance than might be necessary at a higher price. A broker generally holds contracts with many insurers, thereby allowing the broker to "shop" the market for the best rates and coverage possible. Insurance may also be purchased through an agent. Unlike a broker, who represents the policyholder, an agent represents the insurance company from whom the policyholder buys. An agent can represent more than one company. An independent insurance consultant advises insureds on a fee-for-service retainer, similar to an attorney, and thus offers completely independent advice, free of the financial conflict of interest of brokers and/or agents. However, such a consultant must still work through brokers and/or agents in order to secure coverage for their clients. [edit] Redlining Redlining is the practice of denying insurance coverage in specific geographic areas, supposedly because of a high likelihood of loss, while the alleged motivation is unlawful discrimination. Racial profiling or redlining has a long history in the property insurance industry in the United States. From a review of industry underwriting and marketing materials, court documents, and research by government agencies, industry and community groups, and academics, it is clear that race has long affected and continues to affect the policies and practices of the insurance industry.[16] In July, 2007, The Federal Trade Commission released a report presenting the results of a study concerning credit-based insurance scores and automobile insurance. The study found that these scores are effective predictors of the claims that consumers will file. (http://www2.ftc.gov/os/2007/07/P044804FACTA_Report_Credit-Based_Insurance_Scores.pdf) All states have provisions in their rate regulation laws or in their fair trade practice acts that prohibit unfair discrimination, often called redlining, in setting rates and making insurance available.[17] In determining premiums and premium rate structures, insurers consider quantifiable factors, including location, credit scores, gender, occupation, marital status, and education level. However, the use of such factors is often considered to be unfair or unlawfully discriminatory, and the reaction against this practice has in some instances led to political disputes about the ways in which insurers determine premiums and regulatory intervention to limit the factors used. An insurance underwriter's job is to evaluate a given risk as to the likelihood that a loss will occur. Any factor that causes a greater likelihood of loss should theoretically be charged a higher rate. This basic principle of insurance must be followed if insurance companies are to remain solvent.[citation needed] Thus, "discrimination" against (i.e., negative differential treatment of) potential insureds in the risk evaluation and premium-setting process is a necessary by-product of the fundamentals of insurance underwriting. For instance, insurers charge older people significantly higher premiums than they charge younger people for term life insurance. Older people are thus treated differently than younger people (i.e., a distinction is made, discrimination occurs). The rationale for the differential treatment goes to the heart of the risk a life insurer takes: Old people are likely to die sooner than young people, so the risk of loss (the insured's death) is greater in any given period of time and therefore the risk premium must be higher to cover the greater risk. However, treating insureds differently when there is no actuarially sound reason for doing so is unlawful discrimination. What is often missing from the debate is that prohibiting the use of legitimate, actuarially sound factors means that an insufficient amount is being charged for a given risk, and there is thus a deficit in the system.[citation needed] The failure to address the deficit may mean insolvency and hardship for all of a company's insureds.[citation needed] The options for addressing the deficit seem to be the following: Charge the deficit to the other policyholders or charge it to the government (i.e., externalize outside of the company to society at large).[citation needed] [edit] Insurance patents Further information: Insurance patent New assurance products can now be protected from copying with a business method patent in the United States. A recent example of a new insurance product that is patented is Usage Based auto insurance. Early versions were independently invented and patented by a major U.S. auto insurance company, Progressive Auto Insurance (U.S. Patent 5,797,134) and a Spanish independent inventor, Salvador Minguijon Perez (EP patent 0700009). Many independent inventors are in favor of patenting new insurance products since it gives them protection from big companies when they bring their new insurance products to market. Independent inventors account for 70% of the new U.S. patent applications in this area. Many insurance executives are opposed to patenting insurance products because it creates a new risk for them. The Hartford insurance company, for example, recently had to pay $80 million to an independent inventor, Bancorp Services, in order to settle a patent infringement and theft of trade secret lawsuit for a type of corporate owned life insurance product invented and patented by Bancorp. There are currently about 150 new patent applications on insurance inventions filed per year in the United States. The rate at which patents have issued has steadily risen from 15 in 2002 to 44 in 2006. [18] Inventors can now have their insurance U.S. patent applications reviewed by the public in the Peer to Patent program.[19] The first insurance patent application to be posted was US2009005522 ?Risk assessment company?. It was posted on March 6, 2009. This patent application describes a method for increasing the ease of changing insurance companies.[20] [edit] The insurance industry and rent seeking Certain insurance products and practices have been described as rent seeking by critics.[citation needed] That is, some insurance products or practices are useful primarily because of legal benefits, such as reducing taxes, as opposed to providing protection against risks of adverse events. Under United States tax law, for example, most owners of variable annuities and variable life insurance can invest their premium payments in the stock market and defer or eliminate paying any taxes on their investments until withdrawals are made. Sometimes this tax deferral is the only reason people use these products.[citation needed] Another example is the legal infrastructure which allows life insurance to be held in an irrevocable trust which is used to pay an estate tax while the proceeds themselves are immune from the estate tax. What Everyone Needs to Know about Health Insurance Why do people desire health insurance? If you answer "to pay for medical expenses", stop for a minute. Do you have food insurance to pay for food expenses, or textile insurance to pay for clothes? Of course not. We recognize that insurance makes no sense for food and clothing. Why do we treat medical expenses differently, expecting routine care to be covered by insurance? What is insurance really about? Insurance is a vehicle for spreading risk. The participants prefer a small but certain cost instead of a large but unlikely cost. Let's proceed by analogy, using household fire insurance to explain some important features of insurance in general, and health insurance in particular. The odds of your home burning down are low, but the cost if it happens is tremendous. For most people, the uninsured loss of their home would be a ruinous financial burden. By purchasing insurance, they are protected from the catastrophe, but must regularly pay an insurance premium to get this protection. As economists never tire of saying, there are no free lunches. In total, insurance premiums must exceed insurance claims or the insurer will go out of business. The cost of anything covered by insurance is paid for through insurance premiums. For insurance companies to pay more or higher claims, premiums must correspondingly increase. In the case of health care, the tax-advantaged status of insurance premiums has created a large distortion in the market. General medical spending is only tax-advantaged if it exceeds an certain (uncommon) percentage of your income, but employer-paid insurance premiums are always tax-advantaged. The other mantra of economics (besides "no free lunches") is that incentives matter. Most people don't qualify for the tax benefit on out-of-pocket medical spending, but through their employer they do get the tax benefit for insurance premiums. Because insurance premiums fundamentally match insurance claims, in aggregate, an insurance premium can be considered as simply another way ? a tax-advantaged way ? of paying for health care. The incentive is to pay for medical care through insurance premiums rather than out-of-pocket. This favors insurance plans that offer wider coverage and smaller co-pays or deductibles. If you haven't ever thought of it this way, and therefore think you haven't been affected by the tax incentive, I have good news for you: You didn't have to think of it, because your employer and the insurance companies already figured it out. The process of economic competition has brought you the tax benefit even as you were unaware of it. An interesting historical note in this area is that employer-provided health insurance grew out of price and wage controls during World War II. Prohibited from raising wages, employers competed for employees by raising non-wage benefits such as health insurance. If you stop to think for a moment, doesn't it seem strange that individuals themselves pay for all kinds of insurance except health insurance? What sense does it make for any kind of insurance to be tied to your job? It doesn't; it's a legacy of wartime economic intervention that tax incentives have made permanent. Whenever a market doesn't make sense, look for government intervention. You'll find it. What are the effects of low co-pay/deductible, wide-coverage health insurance? Consumers don't pay much attention to price. (When was the last time you compared different doctors' prices for an office visit? If your co-pay is always the same, you don't care what the total cost is.) The aggregative nature of health insurance means that any individual's health care decisions have a negligible impact on premiums. The incentive is to consume more, because other people bear almost all the cost. When large numbers of people do this, premiums increase. This is a description of what has been happening in the United States over the past several years. As aggregate systems of payment grow, the system more and more resembles a socialist one. The end state of this trend, nationalized health care, is within sight and is positively desired by many. Socialism only strengthens the perverse incentive to consume as much health care as possible. Socialist systems "solve" the problem of ballooning costs by rationing. In Canada it takes months to get an MRI scan; in England it takes years. Rationing has come to the United States also, in the form of HMOs denying treatments. Fortunately, in the United States, federalism has made it possible to experiment with and to end socialist systems before they reach their full destructive potential. (That program, incidentally, was very similar to Kerry's national health care plan. Its cancellation ? by a Democratic governor ? should give supporters of Kerry's plan serious pause and reflection.) What would I like to see? I would like to see a move back toward insurance as insurance ? protection against catastrophe ? instead of an aggregate payment system for health care. The way to achieve this is to end the tax advantage of employer-paid premiums over out-of-pocket payment. Health Savings Accounts do this by giving the same tax advantage to both, making high-deductible (catastrophic) coverage attractive again. This form of coverage restores the incentive of individuals to pay attention to price, rekindling economic competition and simultaneously reducing excessive consumption of health care. The most serious objection to my proposal is that people who have chronic conditions will be worse off. As people who are low consumers of health care migrate to catastrophic coverage, the subsidy they had been implicitly providing to the chronically ill will be reduced. This is true, and in fact is a major personal motivation for me to switch to a catastrophic coverage plan with a Health Savings Account. I don't want to be involved in a quasi-socialist scheme paying for other peoples' medical bills. This is a complicated matter to address and requires additional background. Imagine a town filled with very similar homes, each with a small risk of fire. If everyone buys an insurance policy, the people whose houses burn down are covered. The others have lost a little money paying premiums. Ordinarily people are happy to do this; most people prefer a small but certain cost over a large but unlikely cost. So far we have assumed the risk is evenly distributed. What if it isn't? What if the investigation of a fire showed that it was caused by particularly bad wiring, and that it was known exactly half the homes in town had been wired similarly and were therefore at increased risk of burning down? This discovery changes the risk assessment. Fires in half of the homes are more likely than had been previously realized. Higher claims must mean higher premiums. (There are no free lunches.) At this point the insurer faces an alternative. Should everybody pay higher premiums to cover the overall higher rate of claims, or should just the high-risk group pay higher premiums? The free-market outcome would be for only the high-risk group to pay higher premiums. If the insurer tried to raise everyone's premium, the low-risk group would be unhappy and would switch to a competing insurer who offered the original premium on the condition of knowing the house had low-risk wiring. Because the risk groups are identifiable, the natural outcome is a separation between them. Each person would be in an insurance pool with others of a similar risk profile, and their premiums would reflect their risk. (DWL: Please no nitpicking about situations without stable equilibria, I'm trying to keep this simple!) The alternative of everyone paying a higher premium could be obtained through government intervention. However, it contains an implicit transfer of funds from the low-risk group to the high-risk group. That arrangement would be favored by the high-risk group but resented by the low-risk group. Because the situation is politically created, the friction between those two groups becomes a political matter, with all that that implies. The example of discovering bad wiring is analogous to a person discovering they have significant risk factors for a serious disease. It increases their likelihood of making insurance claims. Adjusting fire insurance premiums based on the quality of the house's wiring is analogous to adjusting health insurance premiums based on risk factors. Chronic conditions may be thought of as a risk with probability 1. Just as bad wiring is in no way the fault of the homeowner, a chronic condition may be (or in the case of genetics, is) in no way the fault of the patient. However, insurance is based on risk, not on fault or need. There is no free lunch in insurance or anywhere else. On an aggregate basis, every person should expect to pay more in premiums than they ever collect in claims. Insurance isn't a vehicle to save money. Insurance isn't a vehicle to pay for expenses. Insurance is a vehicle to dilute risk. If you have any other expectation, you will be disappointed. In a free market, people with chronic conditions will not be subsidized through the insurance system by people without chronic conditions. And that is as it should be. No one has the right to force the cost of their higher risk to be shouldered by someone else. Not in fire insurance, and not in health insurance. The fair outcome is to be in an insurance pool with people of similar risk. You may find it morally repulsive that the chronically sick must pay the most out-of-pocket. Yet it is undeniably true that they are the highest-risk group. I encourage you to ease your conscience with your wallet, not your vote ? give to medical charities or directly to those in need. Do not hijack and politicize the insurance system. That leads to socialism and the destruction of effective health care for everyone. Let insurance be insurance, and let charity be charity. Do not confuse the two. Lawyer A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person licensed to practice law."[1] Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain stability, and deliver justice. Working as a lawyer involves the practical application of abstract legal theories and knowledge to solve specific individualized problems, or to advance the interests of those who retain (i.e., hire) lawyers to perform legal services. The role of the lawyer varies significantly across legal jurisdictions, and so it can be treated here in only the most general terms.[2][3] More information is available in country-specific Terminology In practice, legal jurisdictions exercise their right to determine who is recognized as being a lawyer; as a result, the meaning of the term "lawyer" may vary from place to place.[4] * In New Zealand and Australia the word "lawyer" is used to refer to both barristers and solicitors (whether in private practice or practising as corporate in-house counsel). * In Canada, the word "lawyer" only refers to individuals who have been called to the bar or have qualified as civil law notaries in the province of Quebec. Common law lawyers in Canada may also be known as "barristers and solicitors", but should not be referred to as "attorneys", since that term has a different meaning in Canadian usage. However, in Quebec, civil law advocates (or avocats in French) often call themselves "attorney" and sometimes "barrister and solicitor". * In England, "lawyer" is used loosely to refer to a broad variety of law-trained persons. It includes practitioners such as barristers, solicitors, legal executives and licensed conveyancers; and people who are involved with the law but do not practise it on behalf of individual clients, such as judges, court clerks, and drafters of legislation. * In India, the term "lawyer" is often colloquially used, but the official term is "advocate" as prescribed under the Advocates Act, 1961.[5] * In Scotland, the word "lawyer" refers to a more specific group of legally trained people. It specifically includes advocates and solicitors. In a generic sense, it may also include judges and law-trained support staff. * In the United States, the term generally refers to attorneys who may practice law; it is never used to refer to patent agents[6] or paralegals.[7] * Other nations tend to have comparable terms for the analogous concept. [edit] Responsibilities In most countries, particularly civil law countries, there has been a tradition of giving many legal tasks to a variety of civil law notaries, clerks, and scriveners.[8][9] These countries do not have "lawyers" in the American sense, insofar as that term refers to a single type of general-purpose legal services provider;[10] rather, their legal professions consist of a large number of different kinds of law-trained persons, known as jurists, of which only some are advocates who are licensed to practice in the courts.[11][12][13] It is difficult to formulate accurate generalizations that cover all the countries with multiple legal professions, because each country has traditionally had its own peculiar method of dividing up legal work among all its different types of legal professionals.[14] Notably, England, the mother of the common law jurisdictions, emerged from the Dark Ages with similar complexity in its legal professions, but then evolved by the 19th century to a single dichotomy between barristers and solicitors. An equivalent dichotomy developed between advocates and procurators in some civil law countries, though these two types did not always monopolize the practice of law as much as barristers and solicitors, in that they always coexisted with civil law notaries.[15][16][17] Several countries that originally had two or more legal professions have since fused or united their professions into a single type of lawyer.[18][19][20][21] Most countries in this category are common law countries, though France, a civil law country, merged together its jurists in 1990 and 1991 in response to Anglo-American competition.[22] In countries with fused professions, a lawyer is usually permitted to carry out all or nearly all the responsibilities listed below. [edit] Oral argument in the courts Arguing a client's case before a judge or jury in a court of law is the traditional province of the barrister in England, and of advocates in some civil law jurisdictions.[23] However, the boundary between barristers and solicitors has evolved. In England today, the barrister monopoly covers only appellate courts, and barristers must compete directly with solicitors in many trial courts.[24] In countries like the United States that have fused legal professions, there are trial lawyers who specialize in trying cases in court, but trial lawyers do not have a de jure monopoly like barristers. In some countries, litigants have the option of arguing pro se, or on their own behalf. It is common for litigants to appear unrepresented before certain courts like small claims courts; indeed, many such courts do not allow lawyers to speak for their clients, in an effort to save money for all participants in a small case.[25] In other countries, like Venezuela, no one may appear before a judge unless represented by a lawyer.[26] The advantage of the latter regime is that lawyers are familiar with the court's customs and procedures, and make the legal system more efficient for all involved. Unrepresented parties often damage their own credibility or slow the court down as a result of their inexperience.[27][28] [edit] Research and drafting of court papers Often, lawyers brief a court in writing on the issues in a case before the issues can be orally argued. They may have to perform extensive research into relevant facts and law while drafting legal papers and preparing for oral argument. In England, the usual division of labour is that a solicitor will obtain the facts of the case from the client and then brief a barrister (usually in writing).[29] The barrister then researches and drafts the necessary court pleadings (which will be filed and served by the solicitor) and orally argues the case.[30] In Spain, the procurator merely signs and presents the papers to the court, but it is the advocate who drafts the papers and argues the case.[31] In some countries, like Japan, a scrivener or clerk may fill out court forms and draft simple papers for lay persons who cannot afford or do not need attorneys, and advise them on how to manage and argue their own cases.[32] [edit] Advocacy (written and oral) in administrative hearings In most developed countries, the legislature has granted original jurisdiction over highly technical matters to executive branch administrative agencies which oversee such things. As a result, some lawyers have become specialists in administrative law. In a few countries, there is a special category of jurists with a monopoly over this form of advocacy; for example, France formerly had conseil juridiques (who were merged into the main legal profession in 1991).[33] In other countries, like the United States, lawyers have been effectively barred by statute from certain types of administrative hearings in order to preserve their informality.[34] [edit] Client intake and counseling (with regard to pending litigation) An important aspect of a lawyer's job is developing and managing relationships with clients (or the client's employees, if the lawyer works in-house for a government or corporation). The client-lawyer relationship often begins with an intake interview where the lawyer gets to know the client personally, discovers the facts of the client's case, clarifies what the client wants to accomplish, shapes the client's expectations as to what actually can be accomplished, begins to develop various claims or defenses, and explains his or her fees to the client.[35][36] In England, only solicitors were traditionally in direct contact with the client.[37] The solicitor retained a barrister if one was necessary and acted as an intermediary between the barrister and the client.[38] In most cases a barrister would be obliged, under what is known as the "cab rank rule", to accept instructions for a case in an area in which they held themselves out as practising, at a court at which they normally appeared and at their usual rates.[39][40] [edit] Legal advice Main article: Legal advice Legal advice is the application of abstract principles of law to the concrete facts of the client's case in order to advise the client about what they should do next. In many countries, only a properly licensed lawyer may provide legal advice to clients for good consideration, even if no lawsuit is contemplated or is in progress.[41][42][43] Therefore, even conveyancers and corporate in-house counsel must first get a license to practice, though they may actually spend very little of their careers in court. Failure to obey such a rule is the crime of unauthorized practice of law.[44] In other countries, jurists who hold law degrees are allowed to provide legal advice to individuals or to corporations, and it is irrelevant if they lack a license and cannot appear in court.[45][46] Some countries go further; in England and Wales, there is no general prohibition on the giving of legal advice.[47] Sometimes civil law notaries are allowed to give legal advice, as in Belgium.[48] In many countries, non-jurist accountants may provide what is technically legal advice in tax and accounting matters.[49] [edit] Protecting intellectual property In virtually all countries, patents, trademarks, industrial designs and other forms of intellectual property must be formally registered with a government agency in order to receive maximum protection under the law. The division of such work among lawyers, licensed non-lawyer jurists/agents, and ordinary clerks or scriveners varies greatly from one country to the next.[32][50] [edit] Negotiating and drafting contracts In some countries, the negotiating and drafting of contracts is considered to be similar to the provision of legal advice, so that it is subject to the licensing requirement explained above.[51] In others, jurists or notaries may negotiate or draft contracts.[52] Lawyers in some civil law countries traditionally deprecated "transactional law" or "business law" as beneath them. French law firms developed transactional departments only in the 1990s when they started to lose business to international firms based in the United States and the United Kingdom (where solicitors have always done transactional work).[53] [edit] Conveyancing Conveyancing is the drafting of the documents necessary for the transfer of real property, such as deeds and mortgages. In some jurisdictions, all real estate transactions must be carried out by a lawyer (or a solicitor where that distinction still exists).[54] Such a monopoly is quite valuable from the lawyer's point of view; historically, conveyancing accounted for about half of English solicitors' income (though this has since changed),[55] and a 1978 study showed that conveyancing "accounts for as much as 80 percent of solicitor-client contact in New South Wales."[56] In most common law jurisdictions outside of the United States, this monopoly arose from an 1804 law[57] that was introduced by William Pitt the Younger as a quid pro quo for the raising of fees on the certification of legal professionals such as barristers, solicitors, attorneys and notaries.[58] In others, the use of a lawyer is optional and banks, title companies, or realtors may be used instead.[59] In some civil law jurisdictions, real estate transactions are handled by civil law notaries.[60] In England and Wales a special class of legal professional?the licensed conveyancer?is also allowed to carry out conveyancing services for reward.[61] [edit] Carrying out the intent of the deceased In many countries, only lawyers have the legal authority to draft wills, trusts, and any other documents that ensure the efficient disposition of a person's property after death. In some civil law countries this responsibility is handled by civil law notaries.[52] In the United States, the estates of the deceased must generally be administered by a court through probate. American lawyers have a profitable monopoly on dispensing advice about probate law (which has been heavily criticized).[62] [edit] Prosecution and defense of criminal suspects In many civil law countries, prosecutors are trained and employed as part of the judiciary; they are law-trained jurists, but may not necessarily be lawyers in the sense that the word is used in the common law world.[63] In common law countries, prosecutors are usually lawyers holding regular licenses who simply happen to work for the government office that files criminal charges against suspects. Criminal defense lawyers specialize in the defense of those charged with any crimes.[64] [edit] Education Main article: Legal education The educational prerequisites to becoming a lawyer vary greatly from country to country. In some countries, law is taught by a faculty of law, which is a department of a university's general undergraduate college.[65] Law students in those countries pursue a Master or Bachelor of Laws degree. In some countries it is common or even required for students to earn another bachelor's degree at the same time. Nor is the LL.B the sole obstacle; it is often followed by a series of advanced examinations, apprenticeships, and additional coursework at special government institutes.[66] In other countries, particularly the United States, law is primarily taught at law schools. In the United States[67] and countries following the American model, (such as Canada[68] with the exception of the province of Quebec) law schools are graduate/professional schools where a bachelor's degree is a prerequisite for admission. Most law schools are part of universities but a few are independent institutions. Law schools in the United States (and many in Canada and elsewhere) award graduating students a J.D. (Juris Doctor/Doctor of Jurisprudence) (as opposed to the Bachelor of Laws) as the practitioner's law degree. Many schools also offer post-doctoral law degrees such as the LL.M (Legum Magister/Master of Laws), or the S.J.D. (Scientiae Juridicae Doctor/Doctor of Juridical Science) for students interested in advancing their research knowledge and credentials in a specific area of law.[69] The methods and quality of legal education vary widely. Some countries require extensive clinical training in the form of apprenticeships or special clinical courses.[70] Others do not, like Venezuela.[71] A few countries prefer to teach through assigned readings of judicial opinions (the casebook method) followed by intense in-class cross-examination by the professor (the Socratic method).[72][73] Many others have only lectures on highly abstract legal doctrines, which forces young lawyers to figure out how to actually think and write like a lawyer at their first apprenticeship (or job).[74][75][76] Depending upon the country, a typical class size could range from five students in a seminar to five hundred in a giant lecture room. In the United States, law schools maintain small class sizes, and as such, grant admissions on a more limited and competitive basis.[77] Some countries, particularly industrialized ones, have a traditional preference for full-time law programs,[78] while in developing countries, students often work full- or part-time to pay the tuition and fees of their part-time law programs.[79][80] Law schools in developing countries share several common problems, such as an overreliance on practicing judges and lawyers who treat teaching as a part-time hobby (and a concomitant scarcity of full-time law professors);[81][82] incompetent faculty with questionable credentials;[83] and textbooks that lag behind the current state of the law by two or three decades.[81][84] [edit] Earning the right to practice law Main article: Admission to practice law Some jurisdictions grant a "diploma privilege" to certain institutions, so that merely earning a degree or credential from those institutions is the primary qualification for practicing law.[85] Mexico allows anyone with a law degree to practice law.[86] However, in a large number of countries, a law student must pass a bar examination (or a series of such examinations) before receiving a license to practice.[85][87][88] In a handful of U.S. states, one may become an attorney (a so-called country lawyer) by simply "reading law" and passing the bar examination, without having to attend law school first (although very few people actually become lawyers that way).[89] Some countries require a formal apprenticeship with an experienced practitioner, while others do not.[90] For example, a few jurisdictions still allow an apprenticeship in place of any kind of formal legal education (though the number of persons who actually become lawyers that way is increasingly rare).[91] [edit] Career structure U.S. President Abraham Lincoln is a famous example of a lawyer-turned-politician. The career structure of lawyers varies widely from one country to the next. [edit] Common law/civil law In most common law countries, especially those with fused professions, lawyers have many options over the course of their careers. Besides private practice, they can become a prosecutor, government counsel, corporate in-house counsel, administrative law judge, judge, arbitrator, law professor, or politician.[92] There are also many non-legal jobs which legal training is good preparation for, such as corporate executive, government administrator, investment banker, entrepreneur, or journalist.[93] In developing countries like India, a large majority of law students never actually practice, but simply use their law degree as a foundation for careers in other fields.[94] In most civil law countries, lawyers generally structure their legal education around their chosen specialty; the boundaries between different types of lawyers are carefully defined and hard to cross. After one earns a law degree, career mobility may be severely constrained.[95] For example, unlike their American counterparts,[96] it is difficult for German judges to leave the bench and become advocates in private practice.[97] Another interesting example is France, where for much of the 20th century, all magistrates were graduates of an elite professional school for judges. Although the French magistracy has begun experimenting with the Anglo-American model of appointing judges from accomplished advocates, the few advocates who have actually joined the bench this way are looked down upon by their colleagues who have taken the traditional route to magistracy.[98] In a few civil law countries, such as Sweden,[99] the legal profession is not rigorously bifurcated and everyone within it can easily change roles and arenas. [edit] Specialization In many countries, lawyers are general practitioners who will take almost any kind of case that walks in the door.[100] In others, there has been a tendency since the start of the 20th century for lawyers to specialize early in their careers.[101][102] In countries where specialization is prevalent, many lawyers specialize in representing one side in one particular area of the law; thus, it is common in the United States to hear of plaintiffs' personal injury attorneys.[103] [edit] Organization Main article: Law firm Lawyers in private practice generally work in specialized businesses known as law firms,[104] with the exception of English barristers. The vast majority of law firms worldwide are small businesses that range in size from 1 to 10 lawyers.[105] The United States, with its large number of firms with more than 50 lawyers, is an exception.[106] The United Kingdom and Australia are also exceptions, as the UK, Australia and the U.S. are now home to several firms with more than 1,000 lawyers after a wave of mergers in the late 1990s. Notably, barristers in England and Wales and some states in Australia do not work in "law firms". Those who offer their services to the general public?as opposed to those working "in house"?are required to be self-employed.[107] Most work in groupings known as "sets" or "chambers", where some administrative and marketing costs are shared. An important effect of this different organizational structure is that there is no conflict of interest where barristers in the same chambers work for opposing sides in a case, and in some specialised chambers this is commonplace. [edit] Professional associations and regulation [edit] Mandatory licensing and membership in professional organizations In some jurisdictions, either the judiciary[108] or the Ministry of Justice[109] directly supervises the admission, licensing, and regulation of lawyers. Other jurisdictions, by statute, tradition, or court order, have granted such powers to a professional association which all lawyers must belong to.[110] In the U.S., such associations are known as mandatory, integrated, or unified bar associations. In the Commonwealth of Nations, similar organizations are known as Inns of Court, bar councils or law societies.[111] In civil law countries, comparable organizations are known as Orders of Advocates,[112] Chambers of Advocates,[113] Colleges of Advocates,[114] Faculties of Advocates,[115] or similar names. Generally, a nonmember caught practicing law may be liable for the crime of unauthorized practice of law.[116] In common law countries with divided legal professions, barristers traditionally belong to the bar council (or an Inn of Court) and solicitors belong to the law society. In the English-speaking world, the largest mandatory professional association of lawyers is the State Bar of California, with 200,000 members. Some countries admit and regulate lawyers at the national level, so that a lawyer, once licensed, can argue cases in any court in the land. This is common in small countries like New Zealand, Japan, and Belgium.[117] Others, especially those with federal governments, tend to regulate lawyers at the state or provincial level; this is the case in the United States,[118] Canada,[119] Australia,[120] and Switzerland,[121] to name a few. Brazil is the most well-known federal government that regulates lawyers at the national level.[122] Some countries, like Italy, regulate lawyers at the regional level,[123] and a few, like Belgium, even regulate them at the local level (that is, they are licensed and regulated by the local equivalent of bar associations but can advocate in courts nationwide).[124] In Germany, lawyers are admitted to regional bars and may appear for clients before all courts nationwide with the exception of the Federal Court of Justice of Germany (Bundesgerichtshof or BGH); oddly, securing admission to the BGH's bar limits a lawyer's practice solely to the supreme federal courts and the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany.[125] Generally, geographic limitations can be troublesome for a lawyer who discovers that his client's cause requires him to litigate in a court beyond the normal geographic scope of his license. Although most courts have special pro hac vice rules for such occasions, the lawyer will still have to deal with a different set of professional responsibility rules, as well as the possibility of other differences in substantive and procedural law. Some countries grant licenses to non-resident lawyers, who may then appear regularly on behalf of foreign clients. Others require all lawyers to live in the jurisdiction or to even hold national citizenship as a prerequisite for receiving a license to practice. But the trend in industrialized countries since the 1970s has been to abolish citizenship and residency restrictions. For example, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down a citizenship requirement on equality rights grounds in 1989,[126] and similarly, American citizenship and residency requirements were struck down as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 and 1985, respectively.[127] The European Court of Justice made similar decisions in 1974 and 1977 striking down citizenship restrictions in Belgium and France.[128] [edit] Who regulates lawyers A key difference among countries is whether lawyers should be regulated solely by an independent judiciary and its subordinate institutions (a self-regulating legal profession),[129] or whether lawyers should be subject to supervision by the Ministry of Justice in the executive branch. In most civil law countries, the government has traditionally exercised tight control over the legal profession in order to ensure a steady supply of loyal judges and bureaucrats. That is, lawyers were expected first and foremost to serve the state, and the availability of counsel for private litigants was an afterthought.[130] Even in civil law countries like Norway which have partially self-regulating professions, the Ministry of Justice is the sole issuer of licenses, and makes its own independent re-evaluation of a lawyer's fitness to practice after a lawyer has been expelled from the Advocates' Association.[109] Brazil is an unusual exception in that its national Order of Advocates has become a fully self-regulating institution (with direct control over licensing) and has successfully resisted government attempts to place it under the control of the Ministry of Labor.[131][132] Of all the civil law countries, Communist countries historically went the farthest towards total state control, with all Communist lawyers forced to practice in collectives by the mid-1950s.[133][134] China is a prime example: technically, the People's Republic of China did not have lawyers, and instead had only poorly-trained, state-employed "legal workers," prior to the enactment of a comprehensive reform package in 1996 by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.[135] In contrast, common law lawyers have traditionally regulated themselves through institutions where the influence of non-lawyers, if any, was weak and indirect (despite nominal state control).[136] Such institutions have been traditionally dominated by private practitioners who opposed strong state control of the profession on the grounds that it would endanger the ability of lawyers to zealously and competently advocate their clients' causes in the adversarial system of justice.[137] However, the concept of the self-regulating profession has been criticized as a sham which serves to legitimize the professional monopoly while protecting the profession from public scrutiny.[138] Disciplinary mechanisms have been astonishingly ineffective, and penalties have been light or nonexistent.[139][140][141] [edit] Voluntary associations of lawyers Lawyers are always free to form voluntary associations of their own, apart from any licensing or mandatory membership that may be required by the laws of their jurisdiction. Like their mandatory counterparts, such organizations may exist at all geographic levels.[86][142] In American English, such associations are known as voluntary bar associations.[143] The largest voluntary professional association of lawyers in the English-speaking world is the American Bar Association. In some countries, like France and Italy, lawyers have also formed trade unions.[144] [edit] Cultural perception of lawyers Hostility towards the legal profession is a widespread phenomenon. The legal profession was abolished in Prussia in 1780 and in France in 1789, though both countries eventually realized that their judicial systems could not function efficiently without lawyers.[145] Complaints about too many lawyers were common in both England and the United States in the 1840s[146][147] Germany in the 1910s,[148] and in Australia,[149] Canada,[150] the United States,[151][152][153] and Scotland[154] in the 1980s. Public distrust of lawyers reached record heights in the United States after the Watergate scandal.[153][155] In the aftermath of Watergate, legal self-help books became popular among those who wished to solve their legal problems without having to deal with lawyers.[156] Lawyer jokes (already a perennial favorite) also soared in popularity in English-speaking North America as a result of Watergate.[157] In 1989, American legal self-help publisher Nolo Press published a 171-page compilation of negative anecdotes about lawyers from throughout human history.[158] In Adventures in Law and Justice (2003), legal researcher Bryan Horrigan dedicated a chapter to "Myths, Fictions, and Realities" about law and illustrated the perennial criticism of lawyers as "amoral [...] guns for hire"[159] with a quote from Ambrose Bierce's satirical The Devil's Dictionary (1911) that summarized the noun as: "LAWYER, n. One skilled in circumvention of the law."[160] More generally, in Legal Ethics: A Comparative Study (2004), law professor Geoffrey C. Hazard, Jr. with Angelo Dondi briefly examined the "regulations attempting to suppress lawyer misconduct" and noted that their similarity around the world was paralleled by a "remarkable consistency" in certain "persistant grievances" about lawyers that transcends both time and locale, from the Bible to medieval England to dynastic China.[161] The authors then generalized these common complaints about lawyers as being classified into five "general categories" as follows: ? * abuse of litigation in various ways, including using dilatory tactics and false evidence and making frivolous arguments to the courts; * preparation of false documentation, such as false deeds, contracts, or wills; * deceiving clients and other persons and misappropriating property; * procrastination in dealings with clients; and * charging excessive fees.[161] ? [edit] Compensation Main article: Attorney's fee Lawyers are paid for their work in a variety of ways. In private practice, they may work for an hourly fee according to a billable hour structure,[162] a contingency fee[163] (usually in cases involving personal injury), or a lump sum payment if the matter is straightforward. Normally, most lawyers negotiate a written fee agreement up front and may require a non-refundable retainer in advance. In many countries there are fee-shifting arrangements by which the loser must pay the winner's fees and costs; the United States is the major exception,[164] although in turn, its legislators have carved out many exceptions to the so-called "American Rule" of no fee shifting. Lawyers working directly on the payroll of governments, nonprofits, and corporations usually earn a regular annual salary.[165] In many countries, with the notable exception of Germany,[166] lawyers can also volunteer their labor in the service of worthy causes through an arrangement called pro bono (for the common good).[167] Traditionally such work was performed on behalf of the poor, but in some countries it has now expanded to many other causes such as the environment. In some countries, there are legal aid lawyers who specialize in providing legal services to the indigent.[168][169] France and Spain even have formal fee structures by which lawyers are compensated by the government for legal aid cases on a per-case basis.[170] A similar system, though not as extensive or generous, operates in Australia, Canada, as well as South Africa.[citation needed] In other countries, legal aid specialists are practically nonexistent. This may be because non-lawyers are allowed to provide such services; in both Italy and Belgium, trade unions and political parties provide what can be characterized as legal aid services.[171] Some legal aid in Belgium is also provided by young lawyer apprentices subsidized by local bar associations (known as the pro deo system), as well as consumer protection nonprofit organizations and Public Assistance Agencies subsidized by local governments.[172] In Germany, mandatory fee structures have enabled widespread implementation of affordable legal expense insurance.[173] [edit] History Main article: History of the legal profession 16th century painting of a civil law notary, by Flemish painter Quentin Massys. A civil law notary is roughly analogous to a common law solicitor, except that, unlike solicitors, civil law notaries do not practice litigation to any degree. [edit] Ancient Greece The earliest people who could be described as "lawyers" were probably the orators of ancient Athens (see History of Athens). However, Athenian orators faced serious structural obstacles. First, there was a rule that individuals were supposed to plead their own cases, which was soon bypassed by the increasing tendency of individuals to ask a "friend" for assistance.[174] However, around the middle of the fourth century, the Athenians disposed of the perfunctory request for a friend.[175] Second, a more serious obstacle, which the Athenian orators never completely overcame, was the rule that no one could take a fee to plead the cause of another. This law was widely disregarded in practice, but was never abolished, which meant that orators could never present themselves as legal professionals or experts.[176] They had to uphold the legal fiction that they were merely an ordinary citizen generously helping out a friend for free, and thus they could never organize into a real profession?with professional associations and titles and all the other pomp and circumstance?like their modern counterparts.[177] Therefore, if one narrows the definition to those men who could practice the legal profession openly and legally, then the first lawyers would have to be the orators of ancient Rome.[178] [edit] Early Ancient Rome A law enacted in 204 BC barred Roman advocates from taking fees, but the law was widely ignored.[179] The ban on fees was abolished by Emperor Claudius, who legalized advocacy as a profession and allowed the Roman advocates to become the first lawyers who could practice openly?but he also imposed a fee ceiling of 10,000 sesterces.[180] This was apparently not much money; the Satires of Juvenal complain that there was no money in working as an advocate.[181] Like their Greek contemporaries, early Roman advocates were trained in rhetoric, not law, and the judges before whom they argued were also not law-trained.[182] But very early on, unlike Athens, Rome developed a class of specialists who were learned in the law, known as jurisconsults (iuris consulti).[183] Jurisconsults were wealthy amateurs who dabbled in law as an intellectual hobby; they did not make their primary living from it.[183] They gave legal opinions (responsa) on legal issues to all comers (a practice known as publice respondere).[184] Roman judges and governors would routinely consult with an advisory panel of jurisconsults before rendering a decision, and advocates and ordinary people also went to jurisconsults for legal opinions.[183] Thus, the Romans were the first to have a class of people who spent their days thinking about legal problems, and this is why their law became so "precise, detailed, and technical."[183] [edit] Late Ancient Rome During the Roman Republic and the early Roman Empire, jurisconsults and advocates were unregulated, since the former were amateurs and the latter were technically illegal.[185] Any citizen could call himself an advocate or a legal expert, though whether people believed him would depend upon his personal reputation. This changed once Claudius legalized the legal profession. By the start of the Byzantine Empire, the legal profession had become well-established, heavily regulated, and highly stratified.[186] The centralization and bureaucratization of the profession was apparently gradual at first, but accelerated during the reign of Emperor Hadrian.[187] At the same time, the jurisconsults went into decline during the imperial period.[188] In the words of Fritz Schulz, "by the fourth century things had changed in the eastern Empire: advocates now were really lawyers."[189] For example, by the fourth century, advocates had to be enrolled on the bar of a court to argue before it, they could only be attached to one court at a time, and there were restrictions (which came and went depending upon who was emperor) on how many advocates could be enrolled at a particular court.[190] By the 380s, advocates were studying law in addition to rhetoric (thus reducing the need for a separate class of jurisconsults); in 460, Emperor Leo imposed a requirement that new advocates seeking admission had to produce testimonials from their teachers; and by the sixth century, a regular course of legal study lasting about four years was required for admission.[191] Claudius's fee ceiling lasted all the way into the Byzantine period, though by then it was measured at 100 solidi.[192] Of course, it was widely evaded, either through demands for maintenance and expenses or a sub rosa barter transaction.[192] The latter was cause for disbarment.[192] The notaries (tabelliones) appeared in the late Roman Empire. Like their modern-day descendants, the civil law notaries, they were responsible for drafting wills, conveyances, and contracts.[193] They were ubiquitous and most villages had one.[193] In Roman times, notaries were widely considered to be inferior to advocates and jurisconsults.[193] Roman notaries were not law-trained; they were barely literate hacks who wrapped the simplest transactions in mountains of legal jargon, since they were paid by the line.[194] [edit] Middle Ages After the fall of the western Empire and the onset of the Dark Ages, the legal profession of Western Europe collapsed. As James Brundage has explained: "[by 1140], no one in Western Europe could properly be described as a professional lawyer or a professional canonist in anything like the modern sense of the term 'professional.' "[195] However, from 1150 onward, a small but increasing number of men became experts in canon law but only in furtherance of other occupational goals, such as serving the Roman Catholic Church as priests.[196] From 1190 to 1230, however, there was a crucial shift in which some men began to practice canon law as a lifelong profession in itself.[197] The legal profession's return was marked by the renewed efforts of church and state to regulate it. In 1231 two French councils mandated that lawyers had to swear an oath of admission before practicing before the bishop's courts in their regions, and a similar oath was promulgated by the papal legate in London in 1237.[198] During the same decade, Frederick II, the emperor of the Kingdom of Sicily, imposed a similar oath in his civil courts.[199] By 1250 the nucleus of a new legal profession had clearly formed.[200] The new trend towards professionalization culminated in a controversial proposal at the Second Council of Lyon in 1275 that all ecclesiastical courts should require an oath of admission.[201] Although not adopted by the council, it was highly influential in many such courts throughout Europe.[201] The civil courts in England also joined the trend towards professionalization; in 1275 a statute was enacted that prescribed punishment for professional lawyers guilty of deceit, and in 1280 the mayor's court of the city of London promulgated regulations concerning admission procedures, including the administering of an oath.[202] [edit] Titles Generally speaking, the modern practice is for lawyers to avoid use of any title, although formal practice varies across the world. Historically lawyers in most European countries were addressed with the title of doctor, and countries outside of Europe have generally followed the practice of the European country which had policy influence through "modernization" or "colonialization." The first university degrees, starting with the law school of the University of Bologna (or glossators) in the 11th century, were all law degrees and doctorates.[203] Degrees in other fields did not start until the 13th century, but the doctor continued to be the only degree offered at many of the old universities until the 20th century. Therefore, in many of the southern European countries, including Portugal, Spain and Italy,,[204] lawyers have traditionally been addressed as ?doctor,? a practice which was transferred to many countries in South America[205] (including Macau in China).[206] Because the law degrees are no longer doctorate level degrees, the formal ?doctor? title for lawyers is either seen as archaic or incorrect, although it is still a legal title in Italy and in use in many countries outside of Europe.[207] The title of doctor has never been used to address lawyers in England or other common law countries (with the exception of the United States). This is because until 1846 lawyers in England were not required to have a university degree and were trained by other attorneys by apprenticeship or in the Inns of Court.[208] Since law degrees started to become a requirement for lawyers in England, the degree awarded has been the undergraduate LL.B. Even though most lawyers in the United States do not use any titles, the law degree in that country is the Juris Doctor, a professional doctorate degree,[209] and some J.D. holders in the United States use the title of "Doctor" in professional[210] and academic situations.[211] In countries where holders of the first law degree traditionally use the title of doctor (e.g. Peru, Brazil, Macau, Portugal, Argentina, and Italy),[212] J.D. holders who are attorneys will often use the title of doctor as well.[213] It is not uncommon for English-language lawyers, especially in the United States, to use the honorific suffix "Esq." (for "Esquire"), irrespective of whether the lawyer is male or female.[214] In many Asian countries, the proper title for a lawyer is simply, "lawyer", but holders of the Juris Doctor degree are also called "??" (doctor). Myocardial infarction Myocardial infarction (MI) or acute myocardial infarction (AMI), commonly known as a heart attack, is the interruption of blood supply to part of the heart, causing some heart cells to die. This is most commonly due to occlusion (blockage) of a coronary artery following the rupture of a vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque, which is an unstable collection of lipids (like cholesterol) and white blood cells (especially macrophages) in the wall of an artery. The resulting ischemia (restriction in blood supply) and oxygen shortage, if left untreated for a sufficient period of time, can cause damage or death (infarction) of heart muscle tissue (myocardium). Classical symptoms of acute myocardial infarction include sudden chest pain (typically radiating to the left arm or left side of the neck), shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, palpitations, sweating, and anxiety (often described as a sense of impending doom). Women may experience fewer typical symptoms than men, most commonly shortness of breath, weakness, a feeling of indigestion, and fatigue.[1] Approximately one quarter of all myocardial infarctions are silent, without chest pain or other symptoms. A heart attack is a medical emergency, and people experiencing chest pain are advised to alert their emergency medical services because prompt protection with an external defibrillator can save your life from primary ventricular fibrillation which occurs unexpectedly in 10% of all myocardial infarctions especially during the first hours of symptoms. Contemporary treatment of many myocardial infarctions can result in survival and even good outcomes. While it is true that certain less amenable cases are very massive and rapidly fatal "widowmakers", it is also true that in small attacks with limited damage and optimal treatment the heart muscle can be salvaged. Heart attacks are the leading cause of death for both men and women all over the world.[2] Important risk factors are previous cardiovascular disease (such as angina, a previous heart attack or stroke), older age (especially men over 40 and women over 50), tobacco smoking, high blood levels of certain lipids (triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein or "bad cholesterol") and low levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL, "good cholesterol"), diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, chronic kidney disease, heart failure, excessive alcohol consumption, the abuse of certain drugs (such as cocaine and methamphetamine), and chronic high stress levels.[3][4] Immediate treatment for suspected acute myocardial infarction includes oxygen, aspirin, and sublingual glyceryl trinitrate (colloquially referred to as nitroglycerin and abbreviated as NTG or GTN). Pain relief is also often given, classically morphine sulfate.[5] However, a 2009 review about the use of high flow oxygen for treating myocardial infarction found its administration increased mortality and infarct size, calling into question the recommendation for its routine use.[6] The patient will receive a number of diagnostic tests, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG), a chest X-ray and blood tests to detect elevations in cardiac markers (blood tests to detect heart muscle damage). The most often used markers are the creatine kinase-MB (CK-MB) fraction and the troponin I (TnI) or troponin T (TnT) levels. On the basis of the ECG, a distinction is made between ST elevation MI (STEMI) or non-ST elevation MI (NSTEMI). Most cases of STEMI are treated with thrombolysis or if possible with percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI, angioplasty and stent insertion), provided the hospital has facilities for coronary angiography. NSTEMI is managed with medication, although PCI is often performed during hospital admission. In patients who have multiple blockages and who are relatively stable, or in a few extraordinary emergency cases, bypass surgery of the blocked coronary artery is an option. The phrase "heart attack" is sometimes used incorrectly to describe sudden cardiac death, which may or may not be the result of acute myocardial infarction. A heart attack is different from, but can be the cause of cardiac arrest, which is the stopping of the heartbeat, and cardiac arrhythmia, an abnormal heartbeat. It is also distinct from heart failure, in which the pumping action of the heart is impaired; severe myocardial infarction may lead to heart failure, but not necessarily. Classification There are two basic types of acute myocardial infarction, (1) transmural MI- IS associated with atherosclerosis involving major coronary artery. It can be subclassified into anterior,posterior or inferior. (2) subendocardial MI- involves small area, in the subendocardial wall of the left ventricle,ventricular septum,papillary muscles. Clinically, myocardial infarction is further subclassified into ST elevation MI versus non ST elevation MI based on ECG changes. [edit] Signs and symptoms Rough diagram of pain zones in myocardial infarction (dark red = most typical area, light red = other possible areas, view of the chest). Back view. The onset of symptoms in myocardial infarction (MI) is usually gradual, over several minutes, and rarely instantaneous.[7] Chest pain is the most common symptom of acute myocardial infarction and is often described as a sensation of tightness, pressure, or squeezing. Chest pain due to ischemia (a lack of blood and hence oxygen supply) of the heart muscle is termed angina pectoris. Pain radiates most often to the left arm, but may also radiate to the lower jaw, neck, right arm, back, and epigastrium, where it may mimic heartburn. Levine's sign, in which the patient localizes the chest pain by clenching their fist over the sternum, has classically been thought to be predictive of cardiac chest pain, although a prospective observational study showed that it had a poor positive predictive value.[8] Shortness of breath (dyspnea) occurs when the damage to the heart limits the output of the left ventricle, causing left ventricular failure and consequent pulmonary edema. Other symptoms include diaphoresis (an excessive form of sweating), weakness, light-headedness, nausea, vomiting, and palpitations. These symptoms are likely induced by a massive surge of catecholamines from the sympathetic nervous system[9] which occurs in response to pain and the hemodynamic abnormalities that result from cardiac dysfunction. Loss of consciousness (due to inadequate cerebral perfusion and cardiogenic shock) and even sudden death (frequently due to the development of ventricular fibrillation) can occur in myocardial infarctions. Women and older patients experience atypical symptoms more frequently than their male and younger counterparts.[10] Women also have more symptoms compared to men (2.6 on average vs 1.8 symptoms in men).[10] The most common symptoms of MI in women include dyspnea, weakness, and fatigue. Fatigue, sleep disturbances, and dyspnea have been reported as frequently occurring symptoms which may manifest as long as one month before the actual clinically manifested ischemic event. In women, chest pain may be less predictive of coronary ischemia than in men.[11] Approximately half of all MI patients have experienced warning symptoms such as chest pain prior to the infarction.[12] Approximately one fourth of all myocardial infarctions are silent, without chest pain or other symptoms.[13] These cases can be discovered later on electrocardiograms or at autopsy without a prior history of related complaints. A silent course is more common in the elderly, in patients with diabetes mellitus[14] and after heart transplantation, probably because the donor heart is not connected to nerves of the host.[15] In diabetics, differences in pain threshold, autonomic neuropathy, and psychological factors have been cited as possible explanations for the lack of symptoms.[14] Any group of symptoms compatible with a sudden interruption of the blood flow to the heart are called an acute coronary syndrome.[16] The differential diagnosis includes other catastrophic causes of chest pain, such as pulmonary embolism, aortic dissection, pericardial effusion causing cardiac tamponade, tension pneumothorax, and esophageal rupture.[17] [edit] Causes and risk factors Heart attack rates are higher in association with intense exertion, be it psychological stress or physical exertion, especially if the exertion is more intense than the individual usually performs.[18] Quantitatively, the period of intense exercise and subsequent recovery is associated with about a 6-fold higher myocardial infarction rate (compared with other more relaxed time frames) for people who are physically very fit.[18] For those in poor physical condition, the rate differential is over 35-fold higher.[18] One observed mechanism for this phenomenon is the increased arterial pulse pressure stretching and relaxation of arteries with each heart beat which, as has been observed with intravascular ultrasound, increases mechanical "shear stress" on atheromas and the likelihood of plaque rupture.[18] Acute severe infection, such as pneumonia, can trigger myocardial infarction. A more controversial link is that between Chlamydophila pneumoniae infection and atherosclerosis.[19] While this intracellular organism has been demonstrated in atherosclerotic plaques, evidence is inconclusive as to whether it can be considered a causative factor.[19] Treatment with antibiotics in patients with proven atherosclerosis has not demonstrated a decreased risk of heart attacks or other coronary vascular diseases.[20] There is an association of an increased incidence of a heart attack in the morning hours, more specifically around 9 a.m. [21][22][23]. Some investigators have noticed that the ability of platelets to aggregate varies according to a circadian rhythm, although they have not proven causation.[24] Some investigators theorize that this increased incidence may be related to the circadian variation in cortisol production affecting the concentrations of various cytokines and other mediators of inflammation.[25] [edit] Risk factors Risk factors for atherosclerosis are generally risk factors for myocardial infarction: * Diabetes (with or without insulin resistance) - the single most important risk factor for ischaemic heart disease (IHD) * Tobacco smoking * Hypercholesterolemia (more accurately hyperlipoproteinemia, especially high low density lipoprotein and low high density lipoprotein) * High blood pressure * Family history of ischaemic heart disease (IHD) * Obesity[26] (defined by a body mass index of more than 30 kg/m?, or alternatively by waist circumference or waist-hip ratio). * Age Men acquire an independent risk factor at age 45, Women acquire an independent risk factor at age 55; in addition individuals acquire another independent risk factor if they have a first-degree male relative (brother,father)who suffered a coronary vascular event at or before age 55. Another independent risk factor is acquired if one has a first-degree female relative (mother,sister) who suffered a coronary vascular event at age 65 or younger. * Hyperhomocysteinemia (high homocysteine, a toxic blood amino acid that is elevated when intakes of vitamins B2, B6, B12 and folic acid are insufficient) * Stress (occupations with high stress index are known to have susceptibility for atherosclerosis) * Alcohol Studies show that prolonged exposure to high quantities of alcohol can increase the risk of heart attack Males are more at risk than females.[18] Many of these risk factors are modifiable, so many heart attacks can be prevented by maintaining a healthier lifestyle. Physical activity, for example, is associated with a lower risk profile.[27] Non-modifiable risk factors include age, sex, and family history of an early heart attack (before the age of 60), which is thought of as reflecting a genetic predisposition.[18] Socioeconomic factors such as a shorter education and lower income (particularly in women), and unmarried cohabitation may also contribute to the risk of MI.[28] To understand epidemiological study results, it's important to note that many factors associated with MI mediate their risk via other factors. For example, the effect of education is partially based on its effect on income and marital status.[28] Women who use combined oral contraceptive pills have a modestly increased risk of myocardial infarction, especially in the presence of other risk factors, such as smoking.[29] Inflammation is known to be an important step in the process of atherosclerotic plaque formation.[30] C-reactive protein (CRP) is a sensitive but non-specific marker for inflammation. Elevated CRP blood levels, especially measured with high sensitivity assays, can predict the risk of MI, as well as stroke and development of diabetes.[30] Moreover, some drugs for MI might also reduce CRP levels.[30] The use of high sensitivity CRP assays as a means of screening the general population is advised against, but it may be used optionally at the physician's discretion, in patients who already present with other risk factors or known coronary artery disease.[31] Whether CRP plays a direct role in atherosclerosis remains uncertain.[30] Inflammation in periodontal disease may be linked coronary heart disease, and since periodontitis is very common, this could have great consequences for public health.[32] Serological studies measuring antibody levels against typical periodontitis-causing bacteria found that such antibodies were more present in subjects with coronary heart disease.[33] Periodontitis tends to increase blood levels of CRP, fibrinogen and cytokines;[34] thus, periodontitis may mediate its effect on MI risk via other risk factors.[35] Preclinical research suggests that periodontal bacteria can promote aggregation of platelets and promote the formation of foam cells.[36][37] A role for specific periodontal bacteria has been suggested but remains to be established.[38] Baldness, hair greying, a diagonal earlobe crease (Frank's sign[39]) and possibly other skin features have been suggested as independent risk factors for MI.[40] Their role remains controversial; a common denominator of these signs and the risk of MI is supposed, possibly genetic. [41] Calcium deposition is another part of atherosclerotic plaque formation. Calcium deposits in the coronary arteries can be detected with CT scans. Several studies have shown that coronary calcium can provide predictive information beyond that of classical risk factors.[42][43][44] [edit] Pathophysiology A myocardial infarction occurs when an atherosclerotic plaque slowly builds up in the inner lining of a coronary artery and then suddenly ruptures, totally occluding the artery and preventing blood flow downstream. Main article: Acute coronary syndrome Acute myocardial infarction refers to two subtypes of acute coronary syndrome, namely non-ST-elevated myocardial infarction and ST-elevated myocardial infarction, which are most frequently (but not always) a manifestation of coronary artery disease. The most common triggering event is the disruption of an atherosclerotic plaque in an epicardial coronary artery, which leads to a clotting cascade, sometimes resulting in total occlusion of the artery. Atherosclerosis is the gradual buildup of cholesterol and fibrous tissue in plaques in the wall of arteries (in this case, the coronary arteries), typically over decades. Blood stream column irregularities visible on angiography reflect artery lumen narrowing as a result of decades of advancing atherosclerosis. Plaques can become unstable, rupture, and additionally promote a thrombus (blood clot) that occludes the artery; this can occur in minutes. When a severe enough plaque rupture occurs in the coronary vasculature, it leads to myocardial infarction (necrosis of downstream myocardium). If impaired blood flow to the heart lasts long enough, it triggers a process called the ischemic cascade; the heart cells in the territory of the occluded coronary artery die (chiefly through necrosis) and do not grow back. A collagen scar forms in its place. Recent studies indicate that another form of cell death called apoptosis also plays a role in the process of tissue damage subsequent to myocardial infarction.[45] As a result, the patient's heart will be permanently damaged. This Myocardial scarring also puts the patient at risk for potentially life threatening arrhythmias, and may result in the formation of a ventricular aneurysm that can rupture with catastrophic consequences. Injured heart tissue conducts electrical impulses more slowly than normal heart tissue. The difference in conduction velocity between injured and uninjured tissue can trigger re-entry or a feedback loop that is believed to be the cause of many lethal arrhythmias. The most serious of these arrhythmias is ventricular fibrillation (V-Fib/VF), an extremely fast and chaotic heart rhythm that is the leading cause of sudden cardiac death. Another life threatening arrhythmia is ventricular tachycardia (V-Tach/VT), which may or may not cause sudden cardiac death. However, ventricular tachycardia usually results in rapid heart rates that prevent the heart from pumping blood effectively. Cardiac output and blood pressure may fall to dangerous levels, which can lead to further coronary ischemia and extension of the infarct. The cardiac defibrillator is a device that was specifically designed to terminate these potentially fatal arrhythmias. The device works by delivering an electrical shock to the patient in order to depolarize a critical mass of the heart muscle, in effect "rebooting" the heart. This therapy is time dependent, and the odds of successful defibrillation decline rapidly after the onset of cardiopulmonary arrest. [edit] Diagnosis The diagnosis of myocardial infarction is made by integrating the history of the presenting illness and physical examination with electrocardiogram findings and cardiac markers (blood tests for heart muscle cell damage).[46] A coronary angiogram allows visualization of narrowings or obstructions on the heart vessels, and therapeutic measures can follow immediately. At autopsy, a pathologist can diagnose a myocardial infarction based on anatomopathological findings. A chest radiograph and routine blood tests may indicate complications or precipitating causes and are often performed upon arrival to an emergency department. New regional wall motion abnormalities on an echocardiogram are also suggestive of a myocardial infarction. Echo may be performed in equivocal cases by the on-call cardiologist.[47] In stable patients whose symptoms have resolved by the time of evaluation, technetium-99m 2-methoxyisobutylisonitrile (Tc99m MIBI) or thallium-201 chloride can be used in nuclear medicine to visualize areas of reduced blood flow in conjunction with physiologic or pharmocologic stress.[47][48] Thallium may also be used to determine viability of tissue, distinguishing whether non-functional myocardium is actually dead or merely in a state of hibernation or of being stunned.[49] [edit] Diagnostic criteria WHO criteria[50] formulated in 1979 have classically been used to diagnose MI; a patient is diagnosed with myocardial infarction if two (probable) or three (definite) of the following criteria are satisfied: 1. Clinical history of ischaemic type chest pain lasting for more than 20 minutes 2. Changes in serial ECG tracings 3. Rise and fall of serum cardiac biomarkers such as creatine kinase-MB fraction and troponin The WHO criteria were refined in 2000 to give more prominence to cardiac biomarkers.[51] According to the new guidelines, a cardiac troponin rise accompanied by either typical symptoms, pathological Q waves, ST elevation or depression or coronary intervention are diagnostic of MI. [edit] Physical examination The general appearance of patients may vary according to the experienced symptoms; the patient may be comfortable, or restless and in severe distress with an increased respiratory rate. A cool and pale skin is common and points to vasoconstriction. Some patients have low-grade fever (38?39 ?C). Blood pressure may be elevated or decreased, and the pulse can be become irregular.[52][53] If heart failure ensues, elevated jugular venous pressure and hepatojugular reflux, or swelling of the legs due to peripheral edema may be found on inspection. Rarely, a cardiac bulge with a pace different from the pulse rhythm can be felt on precordial examination. Various abnormalities can be found on auscultation, such as a third and fourth heart sound, systolic murmurs, paradoxical splitting of the second heart sound, a pericardial friction rub and rales over the lung.[52][54] [edit] Electrocardiogram Main article: Electrocardiogram 12-lead electrocardiogram showing ST-segment elevation (orange) in I, aVL and V1-V5 with reciprocal changes (blue) in the inferior leads, indicative of an anterior wall myocardial infarction. The primary purpose of the electrocardiogram is to detect ischemia or acute coronary injury in broad, symptomatic emergency department populations. However, the standard 12 lead ECG has several limitations. An ECG represents a brief sample in time. Because unstable ischemic syndromes have rapidly changing supply versus demand characteristics, a single ECG may not accurately represent the entire picture.[55] It is therefore desirable to obtain serial 12 lead ECGs, particularly if the first ECG is obtained during a pain-free episode. Alternatively, many emergency departments and chest pain centers use computers capable of continuous ST segment monitoring.[56] The standard 12 lead ECG also does not directly examine the right ventricle, and is relatively poor at examining the posterior basal and lateral walls of the left ventricle. In particular, acute myocardial infarction in the distribution of the circumflex artery is likely to produce a nondiagnostic ECG.[55] The use of additional ECG leads like right-sided leads V3R and V4R and posterior leads V7, V8, and V9 may improve sensitivity for right ventricular and posterior myocardial infarction. In spite of these limitations, the 12 lead ECG stands at the center of risk stratification for the patient with suspected acute myocardial infarction. Mistakes in interpretation are relatively common, and the failure to identify high risk features has a negative effect on the quality of patient care.[57] The 12 lead ECG is used to classify patients into one of three groups:[58] 1. those with ST segment elevation or new bundle branch block (suspicious for acute injury and a possible candidate for acute reperfusion therapy with thrombolytics or primary PCI), 2. those with ST segment depression or T wave inversion (suspicious for ischemia), and 3. those with a so-called non-diagnostic or normal ECG. A normal ECG does not rule out acute myocardial infarction. Sometimes the earliest presentation of acute myocardial infarction is the hyperacute T wave, which is treated the same as ST segment elevation.[59] In practice this is rarely seen, because it only exists for 2?30 minutes after the onset of infarction.[60] Hyperacute T waves need to be distinguished from the peaked T waves associated with hyperkalemia.[61] The current guidelines for the ECG diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction require at least 1 mm (0.1 mV) of ST segment elevation in the limb leads, and at least 2 mm elevation in the precordial leads. These elevations must be present in anatomically contiguous leads.[58] (I, aVL, V5, V6 correspond to the lateral wall; V1-V4 correspond to the anterior wall; II, III, aVF correspond to the inferior wall.) This criterion is problematic, however, as acute myocardial infarction is not the most common cause of ST segment elevation in chest pain patients.[62] Over 90% of healthy men have at least 1 mm (0.1 mV) of ST segment elevation in at least one precordial lead.[63] The clinician must therefore be well versed in recognizing the so-called ECG mimics of acute myocardial infarction, which include left ventricular hypertrophy, left bundle branch block, paced rhythm, early repolarization, pericarditis, hyperkalemia, and ventricular aneurysm.[63][64][65] [edit] Cardiac markers Main article: Cardiac marker Cardiac markers or cardiac enzymes are proteins that leak out of injured myocardial cells through their damaged cell membranes into the bloodstream. Until the 1980s, the enzymes SGOT and LDH were used to assess cardiac injury. Now, the markers most widely used in detection of MI are MB subtype of the enzyme creatine kinase and cardiac troponins T and I as they are more specific for myocardial injury. The cardiac troponins T and I which are released within 4?6 hours of an attack of MI and remain elevated for up to 2 weeks, have nearly complete tissue specificity and are now the preferred markers for asssessing myocardial damage.[66] Elevated troponins in the setting of chest pain may accurately predict a high likelihood of a myocardial infarction in the near future.[67] New markers such as glycogen phosphorylase isoenzyme BB are under investigation.[68] The diagnosis of myocardial infarction requires two out of three components (history, ECG, and enzymes). When damage to the heart occurs, levels of cardiac markers rise over time, which is why blood tests for them are taken over a 24-hour period. Because these enzyme levels are not elevated immediately following a heart attack, patients presenting with chest pain are generally treated with the assumption that a myocardial infarction has occurred and then evaluated for a more precise diagnosis.[69] [edit] Angiography Angiogram of the coronary arteries. Main article: Coronary catheterization In difficult cases or in situations where intervention to restore blood flow is appropriate, coronary angiography can be performed. A catheter is inserted into an artery (usually the femoral artery) and pushed to the vessels supplying the heart. A radio-opaque dye is administered through the catheter and a sequence of x-rays (fluoroscopy) is performed. Obstructed or narrowed arteries can be identified, and angioplasty applied as a therapeutic measure (see below). Angioplasty requires extensive skill, especially in emergency settings. It is performed by a physician trained in interventional cardiology. [edit] Histopathology Further information: Timeline of myocardial infarction pathology Microscopy image (magn. ca 100x, H&E stain) from autopsy specimen of myocardial infarct (7 days post-infarction). Histopathological examination of the heart may reveal infarction at autopsy. Under the microscope, myocardial infarction presents as a circumscribed area of ischemic, coagulative necrosis (cell death). On gross examination, the infarct is not identifiable within the first 12 hours.[70] Micrograph of a myocardial infarction (ca. 400x H&E stain ) with prominent contraction band necrosis. Although earlier changes can be discerned using electron microscopy, one of the earliest changes under a normal microscope are so-called wavy fibers.[71] Subsequently, the myocyte cytoplasm becomes more eosinophilic (pink) and the cells lose their transversal striations, with typical changes and eventually loss of the cell nucleus.[72] The interstitium at the margin of the infarcted area is initially infiltrated with neutrophils, then with lymphocytes and macrophages, who phagocytose ("eat") the myocyte debris. The necrotic area is surrounded and progressively invaded by granulation tissue, which will replace the infarct with a fibrous (collagenous) scar (which are typical steps in wound healing). The interstitial space (the space between cells outside of blood vessels) may be infiltrated with red blood cells.[70] These features can be recognized in cases where the perfusion was not restored; reperfused infarcts can have other hallmarks, such as contraction band necrosis.[73] [edit] Prevention The risk of a recurrent myocardial infarction decreases with strict blood pressure management and lifestyle changes, chiefly smoking cessation, regular exercise, a sensible diet for patients with heart disease, and limitation of alcohol intake. Patients are usually commenced on several long-term medications post-MI, with the aim of preventing secondary cardiovascular events such as further myocardial infarctions, congestive heart failure or cerebrovascular accident (CVA). Unless contraindicated, such medications may include:[74][75] * Antiplatelet drug therapy such as aspirin and/or clopidogrel should be continued to reduce the risk of plaque rupture and recurrent myocardial infarction. Aspirin is first-line, owing to its low cost and comparable efficacy, with clopidogrel reserved for patients intolerant of aspirin. The combination of clopidogrel and aspirin may further reduce risk of cardiovascular events, however the risk of hemorrhage is increased.[76] * Beta blocker therapy such as metoprolol or carvedilol should be commenced.[77] These have been particularly beneficial in high-risk patients such as those with left ventricular dysfunction and/or continuing cardiac ischaemia.[78] ?-Blockers decrease mortality and morbidity. They also improve symptoms of cardiac ischemia in NSTEMI. * ACE inhibitor therapy should be commenced 24?48 hours post-MI in hemodynamically-stable patients, particularly in patients with a history of MI, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, anterior location of infarct (as assessed by ECG), and/or evidence of left ventricular dysfunction. ACE inhibitors reduce mortality, the development of heart failure, and decrease ventricular remodelling post-MI.[79] * Statin therapy has been shown to reduce mortality and morbidity post-MI.[80][81] The effects of statins may be more than their LDL lowering effects. The general consensus is that statins have plaque stabilization and multiple other ("pleiotropic") effects that may prevent myocardial infarction in addition to their effects on blood lipids.[82] * The aldosterone antagonist agent eplerenone has been shown to further reduce risk of cardiovascular death post-MI in patients with heart failure and left ventricular dysfunction, when used in conjunction with standard therapies above.[83] * Omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish, have been shown to reduce mortality post-MI.[84] While the mechanism by which these fatty acids decrease mortality is unknown, it has been postulated that the survival benefit is due to electrical stabilization and the prevention of ventricular fibrillation.[85] However, further studies in a high-risk subset have not shown a clear-cut decrease in potentially fatal arrhythmias due to omega-3 fatty acids.[86][87] [edit] Management A heart attack is a medical emergency which demands both immediate attention and activation of the emergency medical services. The ultimate goal of the management in the acute phase of the disease is to salvage as much myocardium as possible and prevent further complications. As time passes, the risk of damage to the heart muscle increases; hence the phrase that in myocardial infarction, "time is muscle," and "time wasted is muscle lost".[88] Oxygen, aspirin, glyceryl trinitrate (nitroglycerin) and analgesia are usually administered as soon as possible. In many areas, first responders are trained to administer these prior to arrival at the hospital. Morphine is classically used if nitroglycerin is not effective due to its ability to dilate blood vessels, which may aid in blood flow to the heart as well as relieve pain. Morphine may also cause hypotension (usually in the setting of hypovolemia), and should be avoided in the case of right ventricular infarction. Moreover, the CRUSADE trial demonstrated an increase in mortality with administering morphine in the setting of NSTEMI.[89] A 2009 review of high flow oxygen in myocardial infarction found increased mortality and infarct size, calling into question the recommendation about its routine use.[90] Of the front line agents, aspirin and streptokinase have been shown to markedly reduce mortality.[91] Streptokinase activates plasminogen, which is fibrinolytic (see section on thrombolysis below). Once the diagnosis of myocardial infarction is confirmed, other pharmacologic agents are often given. These include beta blockers,[92][93] anticoagulation (typically with heparin),[94] and possibly additional antiplatelet agents such as clopidogrel.[94] While these agents can decrease mortality in the setting of an acute myocardial infarction, they can lead to complications and potentially death if used in the wrong setting.[citation needed] Cocaine associated myocardial infarction should be managed in a manner similar to other patients with acute coronary syndrome except beta blockers should not be used and benzodiazepines should be administered early.[95] The treatment itself may have complications. If attempts to restore the blood flow are initiated after a critical period of only a few hours, the result may be a reperfusion injury instead of amelioration.[96] [edit] First aid As myocardial infarction is a common medical emergency, the signs are often part of first aid courses. The emergency action principles also apply in the case of myocardial infarction. When symptoms of myocardial infarction occur, people wait an average of three hours, instead of doing what is recommended: calling for help immediately.[97][98] Acting immediately by calling the emergency services can save your life for two reasons. First and most importantly, the emergency services can immedialetely save your life from primary ventricular fibrillation which occurs unexpectedly in more than 10% of all infarction especially during the first hour of symptoms and second, immediate treatment of myocardial infarction can prevent sustained damage to the heart ("time is muscle").[88] Certain positions allow the patient to rest in a position which minimizes breathing difficulties. A half-sitting position with knees bent is often recommended. Access to more oxygen can be given by opening the window and widening the collar for easier breathing. Aspirin can be given quickly (if the patient is not allergic to aspirin); but taking aspirin before calling the emergency medical services may be associated with unwanted delay.[99] Aspirin has an antiplatelet effect which inhibits formation of further thrombi (blood clots) that clog arteries. Chewing is the preferred method of administration, so that the Aspirin can be absorbed quickly. Dissolved soluble preparations or sublingual administration can also be used. U.S. guidelines recommend a dose of 162?325 mg.[94] Australian guidelines recommend a dose of 150?300 mg.[74] Glyceryl trinitrate (nitroglycerin) sublingually (under the tongue) can be given if available. If an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available the rescuer should immediately bring the AED to the patient's side and be prepared to follow its instructions, especially should the victim lose consciousness. If possible the rescuer should obtain basic information from the victim, in case the patient is unable to answer questions once emergency medical technicians arrive. The victim's name and any information regarding the nature of the victim's pain will be useful to health care providers. The exact time that these symptoms started may be critical for determining what interventions can be safely attempted once the victim reaches the medical center. Other useful pieces of information include what the patient was doing at the onset of symptoms, and anything else that might give clues to the pathology of the chest pain. It is also very important to relay any actions that have been taken, such as the number or dose of aspirin or nitroglycerin given, to the EMS personnel. Other general first aid principles include monitoring pulse, breathing, level of consciousness and, if possible, the blood pressure of the patient. In case of cardiac arrest, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can be administered. [edit] Automatic external defibrillation (AED) Since the publication of data showing that the availability of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in public places may significantly increase chances of survival, many of these have been installed in public buildings, public transport facilities, and in non-ambulance emergency vehicles (e.g. police cars and fire engines). AEDs analyze the heart's rhythm and determine whether the rhythm is amenable to defibrillation ("shockable"), as in ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation. [edit] Emergency services Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems vary considerably in their ability to evaluate and treat patients with suspected acute myocardial infarction. Some provide as little as first aid and early defibrillation. Others employ highly trained paramedics with sophisticated technology and advanced protocols.[100] Early access to EMS is promoted by a 9-1-1 system currently available to 90% of the population in the United States.[100] Most are capable of providing oxygen, IV access, sublingual nitroglycerine, morphine, and aspirin. Some are capable of providing thrombolytic therapy in the prehospital setting.[101][102] With primary PCI emerging as the preferred therapy for ST segment elevation myocardial infarction, EMS can play a key role in reducing door to balloon intervals (the time from presentation to a hospital ER to the restoration of coronary artery blood flow) by performing a 12 lead ECG in the field and using this information to triage the patient to the most appropriate medical facility.[103][104][105][106] In addition, the 12 lead ECG can be transmitted to the receiving hospital, which enables time saving decisions to be made prior to the patient's arrival. This may include a "cardiac alert" or "STEMI alert" that calls in off duty personnel in areas where the cardiac cath lab is not staffed 24 hours a day.[107] Even in the absence of a formal alerting program, prehospital 12 lead ECGs are independently associated with reduced door to treatment intervals in the emergency department.[108] [edit] Reperfusion The concept of reperfusion has become so central to the modern treatment of acute myocardial infarction, that we are said to be in the reperfusion era.[109][110] Patients who present with suspected acute myocardial infarction and ST segment elevation (STEMI) or new bundle branch block on the 12 lead ECG are presumed to have an occlusive thrombosis in an epicardial coronary artery. They are therefore candidates for immediate reperfusion, either with thrombolytic therapy, percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) or when these therapies are unsuccessful, bypass surgery. Individuals without ST segment elevation are presumed to be experiencing either unstable angina (UA) or non-ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI). They receive many of the same initial therapies and are often stabilized with antiplatelet drugs and anticoagulated. If their condition remains (hemodynamically) stable, they can be offered either late coronary angiography with subsequent restoration of blood flow (revascularization), or non-invasive stress testing to determine if there is significant ischemia that would benefit from revascularization. If hemodynamic instability develops in individuals with NSTEMIs, they may undergo urgent coronary angiography and subsequent revascularization. The use of thrombolytic agents is contraindicated in this patient subset, however.[111] The basis for this distinction in treatment regimens is that ST segment elevations on an ECG are typically due to complete occlusion of a coronary artery. On the other hand, in NSTEMIs there is typically a sudden narrowing of a coronary artery with preserved (but diminished) flow to the distal myocardium. Anticoagulation and antiplatelet agents are given to prevent the narrowed artery from occluding. At least 10% of patients with STEMI don't develop myocardial necrosis (as evidenced by a rise in cardiac markers) and subsequent Q waves on EKG after reperfusion therapy. Such a successful restoration of flow to the infarct-related artery during an acute myocardial infarction is known as "aborting" the myocardial infarction. If treated within the hour, about 25% of STEMIs can be aborted.[112] [edit] Thrombolytic therapy Main article: Thrombolysis Thrombolytic therapy is indicated for the treatment of STEMI if the drug can be administered within 12 hours of the onset of symptoms, the patient is eligible based on exclusion criteria, and primary PCI is not immediately available.[94] The effectiveness of thrombolytic therapy is highest in the first 2 hours. After 12 hours, the risk associated with thrombolytic therapy outweighs any benefit.[111][113] Because irreversible injury occurs within 2?4 hours of the infarction, there is a limited window of time available for reperfusion to work. Thrombolytic drugs are contraindicated for the treatment of unstable angina and NSTEMI[111][114] and for the treatment of individuals with evidence of cardiogenic shock.[115] Although no perfect thrombolytic agent exists, an ideal thrombolytic drug would lead to rapid reperfusion, have a high sustained patency rate, be specific for recent thrombi, be easily and rapidly administered, create a low risk for intra-cerebral and systemic bleeding, have no antigenicity, adverse hemodynamic effects, or clinically significant drug interactions, and be cost effective.[116] Currently available thrombolytic agents include streptokinase, urokinase, and alteplase (recombinant tissue plasminogen activator, rtPA). More recently, thrombolytic agents similar in structure to rtPA such as reteplase and tenecteplase have been used. These newer agents boast efficacy at least as good as rtPA with significantly easier administration. The thrombolytic agent used in a particular individual is based on institution preference and the age of the patient. Depending on the thrombolytic agent being used, adjuvant anticoagulation with heparin or low molecular weight heparin may be of benefit.[117][118] With TPa and related agents (reteplase and tenecteplase), heparin is needed to maintain coronary artery patency. Because of the anticoagulant effect of fibrinogen depletion with streptokinase[119] and urokinase[120][121][122] treatment, it is less necessary there.[117] Intracranial bleeding (ICB) and subsequent cerebrovascular accident (CVA) is a serious side effect of thrombolytic use. The risk of ICB is dependent on a number of factors, including a previous episode of intracranial bleed, age of the individual, and the thrombolytic regimen that is being used. In general, the risk of ICB due to thrombolytic use for the treatment of an acute myocardial infarction is between 0.5 and 1 percent.[117] Thrombolytic therapy to abort a myocardial infarction is not always effective. The degree of effectiveness of a thrombolytic agent is dependent on the time since the myocardial infarction began, with the best results occurring if the thrombolytic agent is used within two hours of the onset of symptoms.[102][123] If the individual presents more than 12 hours after symptoms commenced, the risk of intracranial bleed are considered higher than the benefits of the thrombolytic agent.[124] Failure rates of thrombolytics can be as high as 20% or higher.[125] In cases of failure of the thrombolytic agent to open the infarct-related coronary artery, the patient is then either treated conservatively with anticoagulants and allowed to "complete the infarction" or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI, see below) is then performed. Percutaneous coronary intervention in this setting is known as "rescue PCI" or "salvage PCI". Complications, particularly bleeding, are significantly higher with rescue PCI than with primary PCI due to the action of the thrombolytic agent. [edit] Percutaneous coronary intervention Main article: Percutaneous coronary intervention Thrombus material (in a cup, upper left corner) removed from a coronary artery during a percutaneous coronary intervention to abort a myocardial infarction. Five pieces of thrombus are shown (arrow heads). The benefit of prompt, expertly performed primary percutaneous coronary intervention over thrombolytic therapy for acute ST elevation myocardial infarction is now well established.[126][127][128] When performed rapidly by an experienced team, primary PCI restores flow in the culprit artery in more than 95% of patients compared with the spontaneous recanalization rate of about 65%.[126] Logistic and economic obstacles seem to hinder a more widespread application of percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) via cardiac catheterization,[129] although the feasibility of regionalized PCI for STEMI is currently being explored in the United States.[130] The use of percutaneous coronary intervention as a therapy to abort a myocardial infarction is known as primary PCI. The goal of primary PCI is to open the artery as soon as possible, and preferably within 90 minutes of the patient presenting to the emergency room. This time is referred to as the door-to-balloon time. Few hospitals can provide PCI within the 90 minute interval,[131] which prompted the American College of Cardiology (ACC) to launch a national Door to Balloon (D2B) Initiative in November 2006. Over 800 hospitals have joined the D2B Alliance as of March 16, 2007.[132] One particularly successful implementation of a primary PCI protocol is in the Calgary Health Region under the auspices of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta. Under this model, EMS teams responding to an emergency electronically transmit the ECG directly to a digital archiving system that allows emergency room physicians and/or cardiologists to immediately confirm the diagnosis. This in turn allows for redirection of the EMS teams to facilities prepped to conduct time-critical angioplasty, based on the ECG analysis. In an article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in June 2007, the Calgary implementation resulted in a median time to treatment of 62 minutes.[133] The current guidelines in the United States restrict primary PCI to hospitals with available emergency bypass surgery as a backup,[94] but this is not the case in other parts of the world.[134] Primary PCI involves performing a coronary angiogram to determine the anatomical location of the infarcting vessel, followed by balloon angioplasty (and frequently deployment of an intracoronary stent) of the thrombosed arterial segment. In some settings, an extraction catheter may be used to attempt to aspirate (remove) the thrombus prior to balloon angioplasty. While the use of intracoronary stents do not improve the short term outcomes in primary PCI, the use of stents is widespread because of the decreased rates of procedures to treat restenosis compared to balloon angioplasty.[135] Adjuvant therapy during primary PCI includes intravenous heparin, aspirin, and clopidogrel. Glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors are often used in the setting of primary PCI to reduce the risk of ischemic complications during the procedure.[136][137] Due to the number of antiplatelet agents and anticoagulants used during primary PCI, the risk of bleeding associated with the procedure is higher than during an elective PCI.[138] [edit] Coronary artery bypass surgery Main article: Coronary artery bypass graft surgery Coronary artery bypass surgery during mobilization (freeing) of the right coronary artery from its surrounding tissue, adipose tissue (yellow). The tube visible at the bottom is the aortic cannula (returns blood from the HLM). The tube above it (obscured by the surgeon on the right) is the venous cannula (receives blood from the body). The patient's heart is stopped and the aorta is cross-clamped. The patient's head (not seen) is at the bottom. Despite the guidelines, emergency bypass surgery for the treatment of an acute myocardial infarction (MI) is less common than PCI or medical management. In an analysis of patients in the U.S. National Registry of Myocardial Infarction (NRMI) from January 1995 to May 2004, the percentage of patients with cardiogenic shock treated with primary PCI rose from 27.4% to 54.4%, while the increase in CABG treatment was only from 2.1% to 3.2%.[139] Emergency coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) is usually undertaken to simultaneously treat a mechanical complication, such as a ruptured papillary muscle, or a ventricular septal defect, with ensueing cardiogenic shock.[140] In uncomplicated MI, the mortality rate can be high when the surgery is performed immediately following the infarction.[141] If this option is entertained, the patient should be stabilized prior to surgery, with supportive interventions such as the use of an intra-aortic balloon pump.[142] In patients developing cardiogenic shock after a myocardial infarction, both PCI and CABG are satisfactory treatment options, with similar survival rates.[143][144] Coronary artery bypass surgery involves an artery or vein from the patient being implanted to bypass narrowings or occlusions on the coronary arteries. Several arteries and veins can be used, however internal mammary artery grafts have demonstrated significantly better long-term patency rates than great saphenous vein grafts.[145] In patients with two or more coronary arteries affected, bypass surgery is associated with higher long-term survival rates compared to percutaneous interventions.[146] In patients with single vessel disease, surgery is comparably safe and effective, and may be a treatment option in selected cases.[147] Bypass surgery has higher costs initially, but becomes cost-effective in the long term.[148] A surgical bypass graft is more invasive initially but bears less risk of recurrent procedures (but these may be again minimally invasive).[147] [edit] Monitoring for arrhythmias Additional objectives are to prevent life-threatening arrhythmias or conduction disturbances. This requires monitoring in a coronary care unit and protocolised administration of antiarrhythmic agents. Antiarrhythmic agents are typically only given to individuals with life-threatening arrhythmias after a myocardial infarction and not to suppress the ventricular ectopy that is often seen after a myocardial infarction.[149][150][151] [edit] Austere environments Wilderness first aid In wilderness first aid, a possible heart attack justifies evacuation by the fastest available means, including MEDEVAC, even in the earliest or precursor stages. The patient will rapidly be incapable of further exertion and have to be carried out. Air travel Certified personnel traveling by commercial aircraft may be able to assist an MI patient by using the on-board first aid kit, which may contain some cardiac drugs (such as glyceryl trinitrate spray, aspirin, or opioid painkillers), an AED,[152] and oxygen. Pilots may divert the flight to land at a nearby airport. Cardiac monitors are being introduced by some airlines, and they can be used by both on-board and ground-based physicians.[153] [edit] Rehabilitation Cardiac rehabilitation aims to optimize function and quality of life in those afflicted with a heart disease. This can be with the help of a physician, or in the form of a cardiac rehabilitation program.[154] Physical exercise is an important part of rehabilitation after a myocardial infarction, with beneficial effects on cholesterol levels, blood pressure, weight, stress and mood.[154] Some patients become afraid of exercising because it might trigger another infarct.[155] Patients are stimulated to exercise, and should only avoid certain exerting activities. Local authorities may place limitations on driving motorised vehicles.[156] Some people are afraid to have sex after a heart attack. Most people can resume sexual activities after 3 to 4 weeks. The amount of activity needs to be dosed to the patient's possibilities.[157] [edit] New therapies under investigation Patients who receive stem cell treatment by coronary artery injections of stem cells derived from their own bone marrow after a myocardial infarction (MI) show improvements in left ventricular ejection fraction and end-diastolic volume not seen with placebo. The larger the initial infarct size, the greater the effect of the infusion. Clinical trials of progenitor cell infusion as a treatment approach to ST elevation MI are proceeding.[158] There are currently 3 biomaterial and tissue engineering approaches for the treatment of MI, but these are in an even earlier stage of medical research, so many questions and issues need to be addressed before they can be applied to patients. The first involves polymeric left ventricular restraints in the prevention of heart failure. The second utilizes in vitro engineered cardiac tissue, which is subsequently implanted in vivo. The final approach entails injecting cells and/or a scaffold into the myocardium to create in situ engineered cardiac tissue.[159] [edit] Complications Complications may occur immediately following the heart attack (in the acute phase), or may need time to develop (a chronic problem). After an infarction, an obvious complication is a second infarction, which may occur in the domain of another atherosclerotic coronary artery, or in the same zone if there are any live cells left in the infarct. [edit] Congestive heart failure Main article: Congestive heart failure A myocardial infarction may compromise the function of the heart as a pump for the circulation, a state called heart failure. There are different types of heart failure; left- or right-sided (or bilateral) heart failure may occur depending on the affected part of the heart, and it is a low-output type of failure. If one of the heart valves is affected, this may cause dysfunction, such as mitral regurgitation in the case of left-sided coronary occlusion that disrupts the blood supply of the papillary muscles. The incidence of heart failure is particularly high in patients with diabetes and requires special management strategies.[160] [edit] Myocardial rupture Main article: Myocardial rupture Myocardial rupture is most common three to five days after myocardial infarction, commonly of small degree, but may occur one day to three weeks later. In the modern era of early revascularization and intensive pharmacotherapy as treatment for MI, the incidence of myocardial rupture is about 1% of all MIs.[161] This may occur in the free walls of the ventricles, the septum between them, the papillary muscles, or less commonly the atria. Rupture occurs because of increased pressure against the weakened walls of the heart chambers due to heart muscle that cannot pump blood out effectively. The weakness may also lead to ventricular aneurysm, a localized dilation or ballooning of the heart chamber. Risk factors for myocardial rupture include completion of infarction (no revascularization performed), female sex, advanced age, and a lack of a previous history of myocardial infarction.[161] In addition, the risk of rupture is higher in individuals who are revascularized with a thrombolytic agent than with PCI.[162][163] The shear stress between the infarcted segment and the surrounding normal myocardium (which may be hypercontractile in the post-infarction period) makes it a nidus for rupture.[164] Rupture is usually a catastrophic event that may result a life-threatening process known as cardiac tamponade, in which blood accumulates within the pericardium or heart sac, and compresses the heart to the point where it cannot pump effectively. Rupture of the intraventricular septum (the muscle separating the left and right ventricles) causes a ventricular septal defect with shunting of blood through the defect from the left side of the heart to the right side of the heart, which can lead to right ventricular failure as well as pulmonary overcirculation. Rupture of the papillary muscle may also lead to acute mitral regurgitation and subsequent pulmonary edema and possibly even cardiogenic shock. [edit] Life-threatening arrhythmia A 12 lead electrocardiogram showing ventricular tachycardia. Since the electrical characteristics of the infarcted tissue change (see pathophysiology section), arrhythmias are a frequent complication.[165] The re-entry phenomenon may cause rapid heart rates (ventricular tachycardia and even ventricular fibrillation), and ischemia in the electrical conduction system of the heart may cause a complete heart block (when the impulse from the sinoatrial node, the normal cardiac pacemaker, does not reach the heart chambers).[166][167] [edit] Pericarditis Main article: Pericarditis As a reaction to the damage of the heart muscle, inflammatory cells are attracted. The inflammation may reach out and affect the heart sac. This is called pericarditis. In Dressler's syndrome, this occurs several weeks after the initial event. [edit] Cardiogenic shock A complication that may occur in the acute setting soon after a myocardial infarction or in the weeks following it is cardiogenic shock. Cardiogenic shock is defined as a hemodynamic state in which the heart cannot produce enough of a cardiac output to supply an adequate amount of oxygenated blood to the tissues of the body. While the data on performing interventions on individuals with cardiogenic shock is sparse, trial data suggests a long-term mortality benefit in undergoing revascularization if the individual is less than 75 years old and if the onset of the acute myocardial infarction is less than 36 hours and the onset of cardiogenic shock is less than 18 hours.[115] If the patient with cardiogenic shock is not going to be revascularized, aggressive hemodynamic support is warranted, with insertion of an intra-aortic balloon pump if not contraindicated.[115] If diagnostic coronary angiography does not reveal a culprit blockage that is the cause of the cardiogenic shock, the prognosis is poor.[115] [edit] Prognosis The prognosis for patients with myocardial infarction varies greatly, depending on the patient, the condition itself and the given treatment. Using simple variables which are immediately available in the emergency room, patients with a higher risk of adverse outcome can be identified. For example, one study found that 0.4% of patients with a low risk profile had died after 90 days, whereas the mortality rate in high risk patients was 21.1%.[168] For the period 2005 - 2008 in the United States the median mortality at 30 days was 16.6% with a range from 10.9% to 24.9% depending on the hospital which one looks at.[169] Although studies differ in the identified variables, some of the more reproduced risk stratifiers include age, hemodynamic parameters (such as heart failure, cardiac arrest on admission, systolic blood pressure, or Killip class of two or greater), ST-segment deviation, diabetes, serum creatinine concentration, peripheral vascular disease and elevation of cardiac markers.[168][170][171] Assessment of left ventricular ejection fraction may increase the predictive power of some risk stratification models.[172] The prognostic importance of Q-waves is debated.[173] Prognosis is significantly worsened if a mechanical complication (papillary muscle rupture, myocardial free wall rupture, and so on) were to occur.[162] There is evidence that case fatality of myocardial infarction has been improving over the years in all ethnicities.[174] [edit] Epidemiology Myocardial infarction is a common presentation of ischemic heart disease. The WHO estimated that in 2002, 12.6 percent of deaths worldwide were from ischemic heart disease.[2] Ischemic heart disease is the leading cause of death in developed countries, but third to AIDS and lower respiratory infections in developing countries.[175] In the United States, diseases of the heart are the leading cause of death, causing a higher mortality than cancer (malignant neoplasms).[176] Coronary heart disease is responsible for 1 in 5 deaths in the U.S.. Some 7,200,000 men and 6,000,000 women are living with some form of coronary heart disease. 1,200,000 people suffer a (new or recurrent) coronary attack every year, and about 40% of them die as a result of the attack.[177] This means that roughly every 65 seconds, an American dies of a coronary event. In India, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death.[178] The deaths due to CVD in India were 32% of all deaths in 2007 and are expected to rise from 1.17 million in 1990 and 1.59 million in 2000 to 2.03 million in 2010.[179] Although a relatively new epidemic in India, it has quickly become a major health issue with deaths due to CVD expected to double during 1985-2015.[180][181] Mortality estimates due to CVD vary widely by state, ranging from 10% in Meghalaya to 49% in Punjab (percentage of all deaths). Punjab (49%), Goa (42%), Tamil Nadu (36%) and Andhra Pradesh (31%) have the highest CVD related mortality estimates.[182] State-wise differences are correlated with prevalence of specific dietary risk factors in the states. Moderate physical exercise is associated with reduced incidence of CVD in India (those who exercise have less than half the risk of those who don't).[180] CVD also affects Indians at a younger age (in their 30s and 40s) than is typical in other countries. [edit] Legal implications At common law, a myocardial infarction is generally a disease, but may sometimes be an injury. This has implications for no-fault insurance schemes such as workers' compensation. A heart attack is generally not covered;[183] however, it may be a work-related injury if it results, for example, from unusual emotional stress or unusual exertion.[184] Additionally, in some jurisdictions, heart attacks suffered by persons in particular occupations such as police officers may be classified as line-of-duty injuries by statute or policy. In some countries or states, a person who has suffered from a myocardial infarction may be prevented from participating in activity that puts other people's lives at risk, for example driving a car or flying an airplane. [156] insurance for Car ? Home ? Travel ? Pet or anything is hard, but the best way is to compare and beat the trick of the insurers by comparing. Getting a car insurance quote online in the UK can save you a lot of money on your auto insurance. All you need to do is to fill out a simple quick quote provider form, submit it, and the online insurance company will do the rest and generate your car insurance quote within minutes. You should always Compare Car Insurance to find you the best deals as well as Cheap Car Insurance. Online car insurance quotes prevent this from happening. With online quotes, consumers also have the freedom to start, save and complete their insurance applications according to their convenience. 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Serving: California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey, Virginia, Washington, Massachusetts, Indiana, Arizona, Tennessee, Missouri, Maryland, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado, Alabama, South Carolina, Louisiana, Kentucky, Oregon, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Iowa, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, West Virginia, Nebraska, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont, the District of Columbia and Wyoming. ***Certain conditions apply. The Importance of Matching Your Will to Your Whole Life Insurance When setting up all the things you need to get your life in order for your later years, you will want to think about making your will and your life insurance match so that there will be no confusion as to who should get what upon the unfortunate event of your death. There is some possibility for problems to arise if your will and your life insurance policy don?t directly reference one another. The definition of a will means that you can leave certain things to certain people. But a life insurance policy may or may not include the same names. Here is a brief guide to understanding why it is important to make sure that your whole life insurance and your will match. The Will Your will is a legal, binding document that allows you to bequeath your property and money to individuals that you specify. A person?s will often designates one person or family to take over all of the assets of a person?s estate. This is powerful in that it can guarantee that assets stay within a family or go to whomever you have chosen, but it doesn?t necessarily account for all assets. Life insurance beneficiaries may or may not be recognized in a will. While a will is meant to be a definitive legal document for the end of your life, your life insurance policy could contradict it. Unless you understand the importance of matching your will to your whole life insurance, your family could be left with a difficult interpretation to deal with. The Life Insurance Policy Your life insurance policy is a legal contract that guarantees the beneficiary a certain amount of predetermined money when you pass on. You name your beneficiary when you initiate the whole life insurance policy, and the name on the contract is the name that will be paid. But the insurance policy is not automatically tied to your will. The person named as the recipient of your assets in your will might not be the person you assigned as the beneficiary to your life insurance. Avoid this problem now that you know the importance of matching your will to your whole life insurance policy. Designating the Beneficiary of Your Life Insurance in Your Will Under the counsel of a lawyer or a judge, you will want to make sure that your will reflects your specific wishes in regards to the money to be paid from your whole life insurance policy. It is really just a matter of making sure that the legal terminology exists in your will to allow for an easy payment of your life insurance to the person you want as the beneficiary. Avoid giving your family the headache of deciphering a will and a life insurance policy that don?t match. Advantages and Disadvantages with a Group Insurance Plan Group insurance is designed so that employers, unions, and other organizations can get widespread coverage for their members at a reasonable cost. Instead of getting individual coverage for each person in a company or organization, insurance companies offer group plans for the entire group that overall tend to be less expensive. Who Does It Cover? Overall, group insurance plans cover those in the group with the same benefits. With major insurance plans, the individuals generally get membership through payroll deductions from their work. Still, additional benefits are available to buy into. Family members are usually covered under the group, but the deductions will be higher. Advantages to a Group Insurance Plan What?s nice about a group insurance plan is that because you are essentially buying ?in bulk? you can get a much cheaper rate than you might be able to get with an individual plan. You are also part of a group that has more bargaining power when negotiating with the insurance company. If you have an individual insurance plan, you are pretty much on your own when it comes to any questions, claims or disputes you may have. Also, to try to extend your protection to your family will probably cost additional premium money under an individual plan, whereas this protection is often covered under your group policy. Disadvantages to a Group Insurance Plan The problem with the group insurance plan is in some ways the same as the advantage; being part of a group. If you are in a better position to negotiate with the insurance company for better rates or better coverage, you may want to be considered a separate entity to the insurance company. If you are part of the group, you can only get the best rates and contract that the group gets. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link. In addition, with a group plan there may be more restrictions on the doctors you can see or the drugs you can get under the plan. With an individual plan, there will often be more flexibility in these matters. Home / Insurance And Mortgage UK Mortgage and Insurance Download Movies and Songs for free Resource for the latest information of UK Mortgage and Insurance. Continue for the latest and detailed information of UK Mortgage and Insurance. 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It is vital that you dig up the top authorities. The most accurate Mortgage Brokers in UK intelligence may take a bit of effort to come upon. It is legitimate that securing accurate material on this matter can be time consuming. It is difficult attempting to consider the time we have invested looking up Mortgage Brokers in UK research. We proud you to take some more time checking out Mortgage Brokers in UK web pages. It can at times become wearisome to sort the acceptable Mortgage Brokers in UK info from the dreadful. If you have any information or material of Mortgage Brokers in UK you can send us to post on this website of the Uk Info. Insurance, in law and economics, is a form of risk management primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent loss. Insurance is defined as the equitable transfer of the risk of a loss, from one entity to another, in exchange for a premium, and can be thought of as a guaranteed and known small loss to prevent a large, possibly devastating loss. An insurer is a company selling the insurance; an insured or policyholder is the person or entity buying the insurance. The insurance rate is a factor used to determine the amount to be charged for a certain amount of insurance coverage, called the premium. Risk management, the practice of appraising and controlling risk, has evolved as a discrete field of study and practice. 1. A large number of homogeneous exposure units. The vast majority of insurance policies are provided for individual members of very large classes. Automobile insurance, for example, covered about 175 million automobiles in the United States in 2004.[2] The existence of a large number of homogeneous exposure units allows insurers to benefit from the so-called ?law of large numbers,? which in effect states that as the number of exposure units increases, the actual results are increasingly likely to become close to expected results. There are exceptions to this criterion. Lloyd's of London is famous for insuring the life or health of actors, actresses and sports figures. Satellite Launch insurance covers events that are infrequent. Large commercial property policies may insure exceptional properties for which there are no ?homogeneous? exposure units. Despite failing on this criterion, many exposures like these are generally considered to be insurable. 2. Definite Loss. The event that gives rise to the loss that is subject to the insured, at least in principle, take place at a known time, in a known place, and from a known cause. The classic example is death of an insured person on a life insurance policy. Fire, automobile accidents, and worker injuries may all easily meet this criterion. Other types of losses may only be definite in theory. Occupational disease, for instance, may involve prolonged exposure to injurious conditions where no specific time, place or cause is identifiable. Ideally, the time, place and cause of a loss should be clear enough that a reasonable person, with sufficient information, could objectively verify all three elements. 3. Accidental Loss. The event that constitutes the trigger of a claim should be fortuitous, or at least outside the control of the beneficiary of the insurance. The loss should be ?pure,? in the sense that it results from an event for which there is only the opportunity for cost. Events that contain speculative elements, such as ordinary business risks, are generally not considered insurable. 4. Large Loss. The size of the loss must be meaningful from the perspective of the insured. Insurance premiums need to cover both the expected cost of losses, plus the cost of issuing and administering the policy, adjusting losses, and supplying the capital needed to reasonably assure that the insurer will be able to pay claims. For small losses these latter costs may be several times the size of the expected cost of losses. There is little point in paying such costs unless the protection offered has real value to a buyer. 5. Affordable Premium. If the likelihood of an insured event is so high, or the cost of the event so large, that the resulting premium is large relative to the amount of protection offered, it is not likely that anyone will buy insurance, even if on offer. Further, as the accounting profession formally recognizes in financial accounting standards, the premium cannot be so large that there is not a reasonable chance of a significant loss to the insurer. If there is no such chance of loss, the transaction may have the form of insurance, but not the substance. (See the U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board standard number 113) 6. Calculable Loss. There are two elements that must be at least estimable, if not formally calculable: the probability of loss, and the attendant cost. Probability of loss is generally an empirical exercise, while cost has more to do with the ability of a reasonable person in possession of a copy of the insurance policy and a proof of loss associated with a claim presented under that policy to make a reasonably definite and objective evaluation of the amount of the loss recoverable as a result of the claim. 7. Limited risk of catastrophically large losses. The essential risk is often aggregation. If the same event can cause losses to numerous policyholders of the same insurer, the ability of that insurer to issue policies becomes constrained, not by factors surrounding the individual characteristics of a given policyholder, but by the factors surrounding the sum of all policyholders so exposed. Typically, insurers prefer to limit their exposure to a loss from a single event to some small portion of their capital base, on the order of 5 percent. Where the loss can be aggregated, or an individual policy could produce exceptionally large claims, the capital constraint will restrict an insurer's appetite for additional policyholders. The classic example is earthquake insurance, where the ability of an underwriter to issue a new policy depends on the number and size of the policies that it has already underwritten. Wind insurance in hurricane zones, particularly along coast lines, is another example of this phenomenon. In extreme cases, the aggregation can affect the entire industry, since the combined capital of insurers and reinsurers can be small compared to the needs of potential policyholders in areas exposed to aggregation risk. In commercial fire insurance it is possible to find single properties whose total exposed value is well in excess of any individual insurer?s capital constraint. Such properties are generally shared among several insurers, or are insured by a single insurer who syndicates the risk into the reinsurance market. Main article: Indemnity The technical definition of "indemnity" means to make whole again. There are two types of insurance contracts; 1. an "indemnity" policy and 2. a "pay on behalf" or "on behalf of"[3] policy. The difference is significant on paper, but rarely material in practice. An "indemnity" policy will never pay claims until the insured has paid out of pocket to some third party; for example, a visitor to your home slips on a floor that you left wet and sues you for $10,000 and wins. Under an "indemnity" policy the homeowner would have to come up with the $10,000 to pay for the visitor's fall and then would be "indemnified" by the insurance carrier for the out of pocket costs (the $10,000)[4]. Under the same situation, a "pay on behalf" policy, the insurance carrier would pay the claim and the insured (the homeowner) would not be out of pocket for anything. Most modern liability insurance is written on the basis of "pay on behalf" language[5]. An entity seeking to transfer risk (an individual, corporation, or association of any type, etc.) becomes the 'insured' party once risk is assumed by an 'insurer', the insuring party, by means of a contract, called an insurance 'policy'. Generally, an insurance contract includes, at a minimum, the following elements: the parties (the insurer, the insured, the beneficiaries), the premium, the period of coverage, the particular loss event covered, the amount of coverage (i.e., the amount to be paid to the insured or beneficiary in the event of a loss), and exclusions (events not covered). An insured is thus said to be "indemnified" against the loss covered in the policy. When insured parties experience a loss for a specified peril, the coverage entitles the policyholder to make a 'claim' against the insurer for the covered amount of loss as specified by the policy. The fee paid by the insured to the insurer for assuming the risk is called the 'premium'. Insurance premiums from many insureds are used to fund accounts reserved for later payment of claims?in theory for a relatively few claimants?and for overhead costs. So long as an insurer maintains adequate funds set aside for anticipated losses (i.e., reserves), the remaining margin is an insurer's profit. Underwriting and investing The business model can be reduced to a simple equation: Profit = earned premium + investment income - incurred loss - underwriting expenses. Insurers make money in two ways: 1. Through underwriting, the process by which insurers select the risks to insure and decide how much in premiums to charge for accepting those risks; 2. By investing the premiums they collect from insured parties. The most complicated aspect of the insurance business is the underwriting of policies. Using a wide assortment of data, insurers predict the likelihood that a claim will be made against their policies and price products accordingly. To this end, insurers use actuarial science to quantify the risks they are willing to assume and the premium they will charge to assume them. Data is analyzed to fairly accurately project the rate of future claims based on a given risk. Actuarial science uses statistics and probability to analyze the risks associated with the range of perils covered, and these scientific principles are used to determine an insurer's overall exposure. Upon termination of a given policy, the amount of premium collected and the investment gains thereon minus the amount paid out in claims is the insurer's underwriting profit on that policy. Of course, from the insurer's perspective, some policies are "winners" (i.e., the insurer pays out less in claims and expenses than it receives in premiums and investment income) and some are "losers" (i.e., the insurer pays out more in claims and expenses than it receives in premiums and investment income); insurance companies essentially use actuarial science to attempt to underwrite enough "winning" policies to pay out on the "losers" while still maintaining profitability. An insurer's underwriting performance is measured in its combined ratio. The loss ratio (incurred losses and loss-adjustment expenses divided by net earned premium) is added to the expense ratio (underwriting expenses divided by net premium written) to determine the company's combined ratio. The combined ratio is a reflection of the company's overall underwriting profitability. A combined ratio of less than 100 percent indicates underwriting profitability, while anything over 100 indicates an underwriting loss. Insurance companies also earn investment profits on ?float?. ?Float? or available reserve is the amount of money, at hand at any given moment, that an insurer has collected in insurance premiums but has not been paid out in claims. Insurers start investing insurance premiums as soon as they are collected and continue to earn interest on them until claims are paid out. The Association of British Insurers (gathering 400 insurance companies and 94% of UK insurance services) has almost 20% of the investments in the London Stock Exchange.[6] In the United States, the underwriting loss of property and casualty insurance companies was $142.3 billion in the five years ending 2003. But overall profit for the same period was $68.4 billion, as the result of float. Some insurance industry insiders, most notably Hank Greenberg, do not believe that it is forever possible to sustain a profit from float without an underwriting profit as well, but this opinion is not universally held. Naturally, the ?float? method is difficult to carry out in an economically depressed period. Bear markets do cause insurers to shift away from investments and to toughen up their underwriting standards. So a poor economy generally means high insurance premiums. This tendency to swing between profitable and unprofitable periods over time is commonly known as the "underwriting" or insurance cycle. [7] Property and casualty insurers currently make the most money from their auto insurance line of business. Generally better statistics are available on auto losses and underwriting on this line of business has benefited greatly from advances in computing. Additionally, property losses in the United States, due to unpredictable natural catastrophes, have exacerbated this trend. [edit] Claims Claims and loss handling is the materialized utility of insurance; it is the actual "product" paid for, though one hopes it will never need to be used. Claims may be filed by insureds directly with the insurer or through brokers or agents. The insurer may require that the claim be filed on its own proprietary forms, or may accept claims on a standard industry form such as those produced by ACORD. Insurance company claim departments employ a large number of claims adjusters supported by a staff of records management and data entry clerks. Incoming claims are classified based on severity and are assigned to adjusters whose settlement authority varies with their knowledge and experience. The adjuster undertakes a thorough investigation of each claim, usually in close cooperation with the insured, determines its reasonable monetary value, and authorizes payment. Adjusting liability insurance claims is particularly difficult because there is a third party involved (the plaintiff who is suing the insured) who is under no contractual obligation to cooperate with the insurer and in fact may regard the insurer as a deep pocket. The adjuster must obtain legal counsel for the insured (either inside "house" counsel or outside "panel" counsel), monitor litigation that may take years to complete, and appear in person or over the telephone with settlement authority at a mandatory settlement conference when requested by the judge. In managing the claims handling function, insurers seek to balance the elements of customer satisfaction, administrative handling expenses, and claims overpayment leakages. As part of this balancing act, fraudulent insurance practices are a major business risk that must be managed and overcome. Disputes between insurers and insureds over the validity of claims or claims handling practices occasionally escalate into litigation; see insurance bad faith. Main article: History of insurance In some sense we can say that insurance appears simultaneously with the appearance of human society. We know of two types of economies in human societies: money economies (with markets, money, financial instruments and so on) and non-money or natural economies (without money, markets, financial instruments and so on). The second type is a more ancient form than the first. In such an economy and community, we can see insurance in the form of people helping each other. For example, if a house burns down, the members of the community help build a new one. Should the same thing happen to one's neighbour, the other neighbours must help. Otherwise, neighbours will not receive help in the future. This type of insurance has survived to the present day in some countries where modern money economy with its financial instruments is not widespread (for example countries in the territory of the former Soviet Union). Turning to insurance in the modern sense (i.e., insurance in a modern money economy, in which insurance is part of the financial sphere), early methods of transferring or distributing risk were practised by Chinese and Babylonian traders as long ago as the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC, respectively.[8] Chinese merchants travelling treacherous river rapids would redistribute their wares across many vessels to limit the loss due to any single vessel's capsizing. The Babylonians developed a system which was recorded in the famous Code of Hammurabi, c. 1750 BC, and practised by early Mediterranean sailing merchants. If a merchant received a loan to fund his shipment, he would pay the lender an additional sum in exchange for the lender's guarantee to cancel the loan should the shipment be stolen or lost at sea. Achaemenian monarchs of Ancient Persia were the first to insure their people and made it official by registering the insuring process in governmental notary offices. The insurance tradition was performed each year in Norouz (beginning of the Iranian New Year); the heads of different ethnic groups as well as others willing to take part, presented gifts to the monarch. The most important gift was presented during a special ceremony. When a gift was worth more than 10,000 Derrik (Achaemenian gold coin) the issue was registered in a special office. This was advantageous to those who presented such special gifts. For others, the presents were fairly assessed by the confidants of the court. Then the assessment was registered in special offices. The purpose of registering was that whenever the person who presented the gift registered by the court was in trouble, the monarch and the court would help him. Jahez, a historian and writer, writes in one of his books on ancient Iran: "[W]henever the owner of the present is in trouble or wants to construct a building, set up a feast, have his children married, etc. the one in charge of this in the court would check the registration. If the registered amount exceeded 10,000 Derrik, he or she would receive an amount of twice as much."[1] A thousand years later, the inhabitants of Rhodes invented the concept of the 'general average'. Merchants whose goods were being shipped together would pay a proportionally divided premium which would be used to reimburse any merchant whose goods were jettisoned during storm or sinkage. The Greeks and Romans introduced the origins of health and life insurance c. 600 AD when they organized guilds called "benevolent societies" which cared for the families and paid funeral expenses of members upon death. Guilds in the Middle Ages served a similar purpose. The Talmud deals with several aspects of insuring goods. Before insurance was established in the late 17th century, "friendly societies" existed in England, in which people donated amounts of money to a general sum that could be used for emergencies. Separate insurance contracts (i.e., insurance policies not bundled with loans or other kinds of contracts) were invented in Genoa in the 14th century, as were insurance pools backed by pledges of landed estates. These new insurance contracts allowed insurance to be separated from investment, a separation of roles that first proved useful in marine insurance. Insurance became far more sophisticated in post-Renaissance Europe, and specialized varieties developed. Some forms of insurance had developed in London by the early decades of the seventeenth century. For example, the will of the English colonist Robert Hayman mentions two "policies of insurance" taken out with the diocesan Chancellor of London, Arthur Duck. Of the value of ?100 each, one relates to the safe arrival of Hayman's ship in Guyana and the other is in regard to "one hundred pounds assured by the said Doctor Arthur Ducke on my life". Hayman's will was signed and sealed on 17 November 1628 but not proved until 1633.[9] Toward the end of the seventeenth century, London's growing importance as a centre for trade increased demand for marine insurance. In the late 1680s, Edward Lloyd opened a coffee house that became a popular haunt of ship owners, merchants, and ships? captains, and thereby a reliable source of the latest shipping news. It became the meeting place for parties wishing to insure cargoes and ships, and those willing to underwrite such ventures. Today, Lloyd's of London remains the leading market (note that it is not an insurance company) for marine and other specialist types of insurance, but it works rather differently than the more familiar kinds of insurance. Insurance as we know it today can be traced to the Great Fire of London, which in 1666 devoured 13,200 houses. In the aftermath of this disaster, Nicholas Barbon opened an office to insure buildings. In 1680, he established England's first fire insurance company, "The Fire Office," to insure brick and frame homes. The first insurance company in the United States underwrote fire insurance and was formed in Charles Town (modern-day Charleston), South Carolina, in 1732. Benjamin Franklin helped to popularize and make standard the practice of insurance, particularly against fire in the form of perpetual insurance. In 1752, he founded the Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire. Franklin's company was the first to make contributions toward fire prevention. Not only did his company warn against certain fire hazards, it refused to insure certain buildings where the risk of fire was too great, such as all wooden houses. In the United States, regulation of the insurance industry is highly Balkanized, with primary responsibility assumed by individual state insurance departments. Whereas insurance markets have become centralized nationally and internationally, state insurance commissioners operate individually, though at times in concert through a national insurance commissioners' organization. In recent years, some have called for a dual state and federal regulatory system (commonly referred to as the Optional federal charter (OFC)) for insurance similar to that which oversees state banks and national banks. Types of insurance Any risk that can be quantified can potentially be insured. Specific kinds of risk that may give rise to claims are known as "perils". An insurance policy will set out in detail which perils are covered by the policy and which are not. Below are (non-exhaustive) lists of the many different types of insurance that exist. A single policy may cover risks in one or more of the categories set out below. For example, auto insurance would typically cover both property risk (covering the risk of theft or damage to the car) and liability risk (covering legal claims from causing an accident). A homeowner's insurance policy in the U.S. typically includes property insurance covering damage to the home and the owner's belongings, liability insurance covering certain legal claims against the owner, and even a small amount of coverage for medical expenses of guests who are injured on the owner's property. Business insurance can be any kind of insurance that protects businesses against risks. Some principal subtypes of business insurance are (a) the various kinds of professional liability insurance, also called professional indemnity insurance, which are discussed below under that name; and (b) the business owner's policy (BOP), which bundles into one policy many of the kinds of coverage that a business owner needs, in a way analogous to how homeowners insurance bundles the coverages that a homeowner needs.[10] Auto insurance protects you against financial loss if you have an accident. It is a contract between you and the insurance company. You agree to pay the premium and the insurance company agrees to pay your losses as defined in your policy. Auto insurance provides property, liability and medical coverage: 1. Property coverage pays for damage to or theft of your car. 2. Liability coverage pays for your legal responsibility to others for bodily injury or property damage. 3. Medical coverage pays for the cost of treating injuries, rehabilitation and sometimes lost wages and funeral expenses. An auto insurance policy comprises six kinds of coverage. Most countries require you to buy some, but not all, of these coverages. If you're financing a car, your lender may also have requirements. Most auto policies are for six months to a year. In the United States, your insurance company should notify you by mail when it?s time to renew the policy and to pay your premium. [11] Main article: Home insurance Home insurance provides compensation for damage or destruction of a home from disasters. In some geographical areas, the standard insurances excludes certain types of disasters, such as flood and earthquakes, that require additional coverage. Maintenance-related problems are the homeowners' responsibility. The policy may include inventory, or this can be bought as a separate policy, especially for people who rent housing. In some countries, insurers offer a package which may include liability and legal responsibility for injuries and property damage caused by members of the household, including pets.[12] [edit] Health Main articles: Health insurance and Dental insurance NHS Facility Health insurance policies by the National Health Service in the United Kingdom (NHS) or other publicly-funded health programs will cover the cost of medical treatments. Dental insurance, like medical insurance, is coverage for individuals to protect them against dental costs. In the U.S., dental insurance is often part of an employer's benefits package, along with health insurance. [edit] Accident, Sickness and Unemployment Insurance * Disability insurance policies provide financial support in the event the policyholder is unable to work because of disabling illness or injury. It provides monthly support to help pay such obligations as mortgages and credit cards. * Disability overhead insurance allows business owners to cover the overhead expenses of their business while they are unable to work. * Total permanent disability insurance provides benefits when a person is permanently disabled and can no longer work in their profession, often taken as an adjunct to life insurance. * Workers' compensation insurance replaces all or part of a worker's wages lost and accompanying medical expenses incurred because of a job-related injury. [edit] Casualty Casualty insurance insures against accidents, not necessarily tied to any specific property. Main article: Casualty insurance * Crime insurance is a form of casualty insurance that covers the policyholder against losses arising from the criminal acts of third parties. For example, a company can obtain crime insurance to cover losses arising from theft or embezzlement. * Political risk insurance is a form of casualty insurance that can be taken out by businesses with operations in countries in which there is a risk that revolution or other political conditions will result in a loss. [edit] Life Main article: Life insurance Life insurance provides a monetary benefit to a decedent's family or other designated beneficiary, and may specifically provide for income to an insured person's family, burial, funeral and other final expenses. Life insurance policies often allow the option of having the proceeds paid to the beneficiary either in a lump sum cash payment or an annuity. Annuities provide a stream of payments and are generally classified as insurance because they are issued by insurance companies and regulated as insurance and require the same kinds of actuarial and investment management expertise that life insurance requires. Annuities and pensions that pay a benefit for life are sometimes regarded as insurance against the possibility that a retiree will outlive his or her financial resources. In that sense, they are the complement of life insurance and, from an underwriting perspective, are the mirror image of life insurance. Certain life insurance contracts accumulate cash values, which may be taken by the insured if the policy is surrendered or which may be borrowed against. Some policies, such as annuities and endowment policies, are financial instruments to accumulate or liquidate wealth when it is needed. In many countries, such as the U.S. and the UK, the tax law provides that the interest on this cash value is not taxable under certain circumstances. This leads to widespread use of life insurance as a tax-efficient method of saving as well as protection in the event of early death. In U.S., the tax on interest income on life insurance policies and annuities is generally deferred. However, in some cases the benefit derived from tax deferral may be offset by a low return. This depends upon the insuring company, the type of policy and other variables (mortality, market return, etc.). Moreover, other income tax saving vehicles (e.g., IRAs, 401(k) plans, Roth IRAs) may be better alternatives for value accumulation. [edit] Property Main article: Property insurance This tornado damage to an Illinois home would be considered an "Act of God" for insurance purposes Property insurance provides protection against risks to property, such as fire, theft or weather damage. This includes specialized forms of insurance such as fire insurance, flood insurance, earthquake insurance, home insurance, inland marine insurance or boiler insurance. * Automobile insurance, known in the UK as motor insurance, is probably the most common form of insurance and may cover both legal liability claims against the driver and loss of or damage to the insured's vehicle itself. Throughout the United States an auto insurance policy is required to legally operate a motor vehicle on public roads. In some jurisdictions, bodily injury compensation for automobile accident victims has been changed to a no-fault system, which reduces or eliminates the ability to sue for compensation but provides automatic eligibility for benefits. Credit card companies insure against damage on rented cars. o Driving School Insurance insurance provides cover for any authorized driver whilst undergoing tuition, cover also unlike other motor policies provides cover for instructor liability where both the pupil and driving instructor are equally liable in the event of a claim. * Aviation insurance insures against hull, spares, deductibles, hull wear and liability risks. * Boiler insurance (also known as boiler and machinery insurance or equipment breakdown insurance) insures against accidental physical damage to equipment or machinery. * Builder's risk insurance insures against the risk of physical loss or damage to property during construction. Builder's risk insurance is typically written on an "all risk" basis covering damage due to any cause (including the negligence of the insured) not otherwise expressly excluded. * Crop insurance "Farmers use crop insurance to reduce or manage various risks associated with growing crops. Such risks include crop loss or damage caused by weather, hail, drought, frost damage, insects, or disease, for instance."[13] * Earthquake insurance is a form of property insurance that pays the policyholder in the event of an earthquake that causes damage to the property. Most ordinary homeowners insurance policies do not cover earthquake damage. Most earthquake insurance policies feature a high deductible. Rates depend on location and the probability of an earthquake, as well as the construction of the home. * A fidelity bond is a form of casualty insurance that covers policyholders for losses that they incur as a result of fraudulent acts by specified individuals. It usually insures a business for losses caused by the dishonest acts of its employees. * Flood insurance protects against property loss due to flooding. Many insurers in the U.S. do not provide flood insurance in some portions of the country. In response to this, the federal government created the National Flood Insurance Program which serves as the insurer of last resort. * Home insurance or homeowners' insurance: See "Property insurance". * Landlord insurance is specifically designed for people who own properties which they rent out. Most house insurance cover in the U.K will not be valid if the property is rented out therefore landlords must take out this specialist form of home insurance. * Marine insurance and marine cargo insurance cover the loss or damage of ships at sea or on inland waterways, and of the cargo that may be on them. When the owner of the cargo and the carrier are separate corporations, marine cargo insurance typically compensates the owner of cargo for losses sustained from fire, shipwreck, etc., but excludes losses that can be recovered from the carrier or the carrier's insurance. Many marine insurance underwriters will include "time element" coverage in such policies, which extends the indemnity to cover loss of profit and other business expenses attributable to the delay caused by a covered loss. * Surety bond insurance is a three party insurance guaranteeing the performance of the principal. * Terrorism insurance provides protection against any loss or damage caused by terrorist activities. * Volcano insurance is an insurance that covers volcano damage in Hawaii. * Windstorm insurance is an insurance covering the damage that can be caused by hurricanes and tropical cyclones. [edit] Liability Main article: Liability insurance Liability insurance is a very broad superset that covers legal claims against the insured. Many types of insurance include an aspect of liability coverage. For example, a homeowner's insurance policy will normally include liability coverage which protects the insured in the event of a claim brought by someone who slips and falls on the property; automobile insurance also includes an aspect of liability insurance that indemnifies against the harm that a crashing car can cause to others' lives, health, or property. The protection offered by a liability insurance policy is twofold: a legal defense in the event of a lawsuit commenced against the policyholder and indemnification (payment on behalf of the insured) with respect to a settlement or court verdict. Liability policies typically cover only the negligence of the insured, and will not apply to results of wilful or intentional acts by the insured. * Public liability insurance covers a business against claims should its operations injure a member of the public or damage their property in some way. * Directors and officers liability insurance protects an organization (usually a corporation) from costs associated with litigation resulting from mistakes made by directors and officers for which they are liable. In the industry, it is usually called "D&O" for short. * Environmental liability insurance protects the insured from bodily injury, property damage and cleanup costs as a result of the dispersal, release or escape of pollutants. * Errors and omissions insurance: See "Professional liability insurance" under "Liability insurance". * Prize indemnity insurance protects the insured from giving away a large prize at a specific event. Examples would include offering prizes to contestants who can make a half-court shot at a basketball game, or a hole-in-one at a golf tournament. * Professional liability insurance, also called professional indemnity insurance, protects insured professionals such as architectural corporation and medical practice against potential negligence claims made by their patients/clients. Professional liability insurance may take on different names depending on the profession. For example, professional liability insurance in reference to the medical profession may be called malpractice insurance. Notaries public may take out errors and omissions insurance (E&O). Other potential E&O policyholders include, for example, real estate brokers, Insurance agents, home inspectors, appraisers, and website developers. [edit] Credit Main article: Credit insurance Credit insurance repays some or all of a loan when certain things happen to the borrower such as unemployment, disability, or death. * Mortgage insurance insures the lender against default by the borrower. Mortgage insurance is a form of credit insurance, although the name credit insurance more often is used to refer to policies that cover other kinds of debt. * Many credit cards offer payment protection plans which are a form of credit insurance. [edit] Other types * Collateral protection insurance or CPI, insures property (primarily vehicles) held as collateral for loans made by lending institutions. * Defense Base Act Workers' compensation or DBA Insurance provides coverage for civilian workers hired by the government to perform contracts outside the U.S. and Canada. DBA is required for all U.S. citizens, U.S. residents, U.S. Green Card holders, and all employees or subcontractors hired on overseas government contracts. Depending on the country, Foreign Nationals must also be covered under DBA. This coverage typically includes expenses related to medical treatment and loss of wages, as well as disability and death benefits. * Expatriate insurance provides individuals and organizations operating outside of their home country with protection for automobiles, property, health, liability and business pursuits. * Financial loss insurance or Business Interruption Insurance protects individuals and companies against various financial risks. For example, a business might purchase coverage to protect it from loss of sales if a fire in a factory prevented it from carrying out its business for a time. Insurance might also cover the failure of a creditor to pay money it owes to the insured. This type of insurance is frequently referred to as "business interruption insurance." Fidelity bonds and surety bonds are included in this category, although these products provide a benefit to a third party (the "obligee") in the event the insured party (usually referred to as the "obligor") fails to perform its obligations under a contract with the obligee. * Kidnap and ransom insurance * Locked funds insurance is a little-known hybrid insurance policy jointly issued by governments and banks. It is used to protect public funds from tamper by unauthorized parties. In special cases, a government may authorize its use in protecting semi-private funds which are liable to tamper. The terms of this type of insurance are usually very strict. Therefore it is used only in extreme cases where maximum security of funds is required. * Nuclear incident insurance covers damages resulting from an incident involving radioactive materials and is generally arranged at the national level. See the Nuclear exclusion clause and for the United States the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act) * Pet insurance insures pets against accidents and illnesses - some companies cover routine/wellness care and burial, as well. * Pollution Insurance which consists of first-party coverage for contamination of insured property either by external or on-site sources. Coverage for liability to third parties arising from contamination of air, water, or land due to the sudden and accidental release of hazardous materials from the insured site. The policy usually covers the costs of cleanup and may include coverage for releases from underground storage tanks. Intentional acts are specifically excluded. * Purchase insurance is aimed at providing protection on the products people purchase. Purchase insurance can cover individual purchase protection, warranties, guarantees, care plans and even mobile phone insurance. Such insurance is normally very limited in the scope of problems that are covered by the policy. * Title insurance provides a guarantee that title to real property is vested in the purchaser and/or mortgagee, free and clear of liens or encumbrances. It is usually issued in conjunction with a search of the public records performed at the time of a real estate transaction. * Travel insurance is an insurance cover taken by those who travel abroad, which covers certain losses such as medical expenses, loss of personal belongings, travel delay, personal liabilities, etc. * Media Insurance is designed to cover professionals that engage in film, video and TV production. * Legal Expenses Insurance covers policyholders against the potential costs of legal action against an institution or an individual. [edit] Insurance financing vehicles * Fraternal insurance is provided on a cooperative basis by fraternal benefit societies or other social organizations.[14] * No-fault insurance is a type of insurance policy (typically automobile insurance) where insureds are indemnified by their own insurer regardless of fault in the incident. * Protected Self-Insurance is an alternative risk financing mechanism in which an organization retains the mathematically calculated cost of risk within the organization and transfers the catastrophic risk with specific and aggregate limits to an insurer so the maximum total cost of the program is known. A properly designed and underwritten Protected Self-Insurance Program reduces and stabilizes the cost of insurance and provides valuable risk management information. * Retrospectively Rated Insurance is a method of establishing a premium on large commercial accounts. The final premium is based on the insured's actual loss experience during the policy term, sometimes subject to a minimum and maximum premium, with the final premium determined by a formula. Under this plan, the current year's premium is based partially (or wholly) on the current year's losses, although the premium adjustments may take months or years beyond the current year's expiration date. The rating formula is guaranteed in the insurance contract. Formula: retrospective premium = converted loss + basic premium ? tax multiplier. Numerous variations of this formula have been developed and are in use. * Formal self insurance is the deliberate decision to pay for otherwise insurable losses out of one's own money. This can be done on a formal basis by establishing a separate fund into which funds are deposited on a periodic basis, or by simply forgoing the purchase of available insurance and paying out-of-pocket. Self insurance is usually used to pay for high-frequency, low-severity losses. Such losses, if covered by conventional insurance, mean having to pay a premium that includes loadings for the company's general expenses, cost of putting the policy on the books, acquisition expenses, premium taxes, and contingencies. While this is true for all insurance, for small, frequent losses the transaction costs may exceed the benefit of volatility reduction that insurance otherwise affords. * Reinsurance is a type of insurance purchased by insurance companies or self-insured employers to protect against unexpected losses. Financial reinsurance is a form of reinsurance that is primarily used for capital management rather than to transfer insurance risk. * Social insurance can be many things to many people in many countries. But a summary of its essence is that it is a collection of insurance coverages (including components of life insurance, disability income insurance, unemployment insurance, health insurance, and others), plus retirement savings, that requires participation by all citizens. By forcing everyone in society to be a policyholder and pay premiums, it ensures that everyone can become a claimant when or if he/she needs to. Along the way this inevitably becomes related to other concepts such as the justice system and the welfare state. This is a large, complicated topic that engenders tremendous debate, which can be further studied in the following articles (and others): o National Insurance o Social safety net o Social security o Social Security debate (United States) o Social Security (United States) o Social welfare provision * Stop-loss insurance provides protection against catastrophic or unpredictable losses. It is purchased by organizations who do not want to assume 100% of the liability for losses arising from the plans. Under a stop-loss policy, the insurance company becomes liable for losses that exceed certain limits called deductibles. [edit] Closed community self-insurance Some communities prefer to create virtual insurance amongst themselves by other means than contractual risk transfer, which assigns explicit numerical values to risk. A number of religious groups, including the Amish and some Muslim groups, depend on support provided by their communities when disasters strike. The risk presented by any given person is assumed collectively by the community who all bear the cost of rebuilding lost property and supporting people whose needs are suddenly greater after a loss of some kind. In supportive communities where others can be trusted to follow community leaders, this tacit form of insurance can work. In this manner the community can even out the extreme differences in insurability that exist among its members. Some further justification is also provided by invoking the moral hazard of explicit insurance contracts. In the United Kingdom, The Crown (which, for practical purposes, meant the Civil service) did not insure property such as government buildings. If a government building was damaged, the cost of repair would be met from public funds because, in the long run, this was cheaper than paying insurance premiums. Since many UK government buildings have been sold to property companies, and rented back, this arrangement is now less common and may have disappeared altogether. [edit] Insurance companies Insurance companies may be classified into two groups: * Life insurance companies, which sell life insurance, annuities and pensions products. * Non-life, General, or Property/Casualty insurance companies, which sell other types of insurance. General insurance companies can be further divided into these sub categories. * Standard Lines * Excess Lines In most countries, life and non-life insurers are subject to different regulatory regimes and different tax and accounting rules. The main reason for the distinction between the two types of company is that life, annuity, and pension business is very long-term in nature ? coverage for life assurance or a pension can cover risks over many decades. By contrast, non-life insurance cover usually covers a shorter period, such as one year. In the United States, standard line insurance companies are "mainstream" insurers. These are the companies that typically insure autos, homes or businesses. They use pattern or "cookie-cutter" policies without variation from one person to the next. They usually have lower premiums than excess lines and can sell directly to individuals. They are regulated by state laws that can restrict the amount they can charge for insurance policies. Excess line insurance companies (aka Excess and Surplus) typically insure risks not covered by the standard lines market. They are broadly referred as being all insurance placed with non-admitted insurers. Non-admitted insurers are not licensed in the states where the risks are located. These companies have more flexibility and can react faster than standard insurance companies because they are not required to file rates and forms as the "admitted" carriers do. However, they still have substantial regulatory requirements placed upon them. State laws generally require insurance placed with surplus line agents and brokers not to be available through standard licensed insurers. Insurance companies are generally classified as either mutual or stock companies. Mutual companies are owned by the policyholders, while stockholders (who may or may not own policies) own stock insurance companies. Demutualization of mutual insurers to form stock companies, as well as the formation of a hybrid known as a mutual holding company, became common in some countries, such as the United States, in the late 20th century. Other possible forms for an insurance company include reciprocals, in which policyholders 'reciprocate' in sharing risks, and Lloyds organizations. Insurance companies are rated by various agencies such as A. M. Best. The ratings include the company's financial strength, which measures its ability to pay claims. It also rates financial instruments issued by the insurance company, such as bonds, notes, and securitization products. Reinsurance companies are insurance companies that sell policies to other insurance companies, allowing them to reduce their risks and protect themselves from very large losses. The reinsurance market is dominated by a few very large companies, with huge reserves. A reinsurer may also be a direct writer of insurance risks as well. Captive insurance companies may be defined as limited-purpose insurance companies established with the specific objective of financing risks emanating from their parent group or groups. This definition can sometimes be extended to include some of the risks of the parent company's customers. In short, it is an in-house self-insurance vehicle. Captives may take the form of a "pure" entity (which is a 100% subsidiary of the self-insured parent company); of a "mutual" captive (which insures the collective risks of members of an industry); and of an "association" captive (which self-insures individual risks of the members of a professional, commercial or industrial association). Captives represent commercial, economic and tax advantages to their sponsors because of the reductions in costs they help create and for the ease of insurance risk management and the flexibility for cash flows they generate. Additionally, they may provide coverage of risks which is neither available nor offered in the traditional insurance market at reasonable prices. The types of risk that a captive can underwrite for their parents include property damage, public and product liability, professional indemnity, employee benefits, employers' liability, motor and medical aid expenses. The captive's exposure to such risks may be limited by the use of reinsurance. Captives are becoming an increasingly important component of the risk management and risk financing strategy of their parent. This can be understood against the following background: * heavy and increasing premium costs in almost every line of coverage; * difficulties in insuring certain types of fortuitous risk; * differential coverage standards in various parts of the world; * rating structures which reflect market trends rather than individual loss experience; * insufficient credit for deductibles and/or loss control efforts. There are also companies known as 'insurance consultants'. Like a mortgage broker, these companies are paid a fee by the customer to shop around for the best insurance policy amongst many companies. Similar to an insurance consultant, an 'insurance broker' also shops around for the best insurance policy amongst many companies. However, with insurance brokers, the fee is usually paid in the form of commission from the insurer that is selected rather than directly from the client. Neither insurance consultants nor insurance brokers are insurance companies and no risks are transferred to them in insurance transactions. Third party administrators are companies that perform underwriting and sometimes claims handling services for insurance companies. These companies often have special expertise that the insurance companies do not have. The financial stability and strength of an insurance company should be a major consideration when buying an insurance contract. An insurance premium paid currently provides coverage for losses that might arise many years in the future. For that reason, the viability of the insurance carrier is very important. In recent years, a number of insurance companies have become insolvent, leaving their policyholders with no coverage (or coverage only from a government-backed insurance pool or other arrangement with less attractive payouts for losses). A number of independent rating agencies, such as Best's, Fitch, Standard & Poor's, and Moody's Investors Service, provide information and rate the financial viability of insurance companies. [edit] Global insurance industry Life insurance premia written in 2005 Non-life insurance premia written in 2005 Global insurance premiums grew by 11% in 2007 (or 3.3% in real terms) to reach $4.1 trillion. The macro-economic environment was characterised by slower economic growth in 2007 and rising inflation. Profitability improved in life insurance and fell slightly in the non-life sector during the year. Life insurance premiums grew by 12.6%, accelerating in the advanced economies with the exception of Japan and Continental Europe. Non-life insurance premiums grew by 7.6% during the year. Figures for premium income are not yet available for 2008, but the insurance industry is likely to see a slowdown in new business and falling investment revenue. Advanced economies account for the bulk of global insurance. With premium income of $1,681bn, Europe was the most important region, followed by North America ($1,330bn) and Asia ($814bn). The top four countries accounted for nearly 60% of premiums in 2007. The US and UK alone accounted for 42% of world insurance, much higher than their 7% share of the global population. Emerging markets accounted for over 85% of the world?s population but generated only around 10% of premiums. [15] [edit] Controversies [edit] Insurance insulates too much By creating a "security blanket" for its insureds, an insurance company may inadvertently find that its insureds may not be as risk-averse as they might otherwise be (since, by definition, the insured has transferred the risk to the insurer,) a concept known as moral hazard. To reduce their own financial exposure, insurance companies have contractual clauses that mitigate their obligation to provide coverage if the insured engages in behavior that grossly magnifies their risk of loss or liability.[citation needed] For example, life insurance companies may require higher premiums or deny coverage altogether to people who work in hazardous occupations or engage in dangerous sports. Liability insurance providers do not provide coverage for liability arising from intentional torts committed by the insured. Even if a provider were so irrational as to want to provide such coverage, it is against the public policy of most countries to allow such insurance to exist, and thus it is usually illegal.[citation needed] [edit] Complexity of insurance policy contracts Insurance policies can be complex and some policyholders may not understand all the fees and coverages included in a policy. As a result, people may buy policies on unfavorable terms. In response to these issues, many countries have enacted detailed statutory and regulatory regimes governing every aspect of the insurance business, including minimum standards for policies and the ways in which they may be advertised and sold. For example, most insurance policies in the English language today have been carefully drafted in plain English; the industry learned the hard way that many courts will not enforce policies against insureds when the judges themselves cannot understand what the policies are saying. Many institutional insurance purchasers buy insurance through an insurance broker. While on the surface it appears the broker represents the buyer (not the insurance company), and typically counsels the buyer on appropriate coverage and policy limitations, it should be noted that in the vast majority of cases a broker's compensation comes in the form of a commission as a percentage of the insurance premium, creating a conflict of interest in that the broker's financial interest is tilted towards encouraging an insured to purchase more insurance than might be necessary at a higher price. A broker generally holds contracts with many insurers, thereby allowing the broker to "shop" the market for the best rates and coverage possible. Insurance may also be purchased through an agent. Unlike a broker, who represents the policyholder, an agent represents the insurance company from whom the policyholder buys. An agent can represent more than one company. An independent insurance consultant advises insureds on a fee-for-service retainer, similar to an attorney, and thus offers completely independent advice, free of the financial conflict of interest of brokers and/or agents. However, such a consultant must still work through brokers and/or agents in order to secure coverage for their clients. [edit] Redlining Redlining is the practice of denying insurance coverage in specific geographic areas, supposedly because of a high likelihood of loss, while the alleged motivation is unlawful discrimination. Racial profiling or redlining has a long history in the property insurance industry in the United States. From a review of industry underwriting and marketing materials, court documents, and research by government agencies, industry and community groups, and academics, it is clear that race has long affected and continues to affect the policies and practices of the insurance industry.[16] In July, 2007, The Federal Trade Commission released a report presenting the results of a study concerning credit-based insurance scores and automobile insurance. The study found that these scores are effective predictors of the claims that consumers will file. (http://www2.ftc.gov/os/2007/07/P044804FACTA_Report_Credit-Based_Insurance_Scores.pdf) All states have provisions in their rate regulation laws or in their fair trade practice acts that prohibit unfair discrimination, often called redlining, in setting rates and making insurance available.[17] In determining premiums and premium rate structures, insurers consider quantifiable factors, including location, credit scores, gender, occupation, marital status, and education level. However, the use of such factors is often considered to be unfair or unlawfully discriminatory, and the reaction against this practice has in some instances led to political disputes about the ways in which insurers determine premiums and regulatory intervention to limit the factors used. An insurance underwriter's job is to evaluate a given risk as to the likelihood that a loss will occur. Any factor that causes a greater likelihood of loss should theoretically be charged a higher rate. This basic principle of insurance must be followed if insurance companies are to remain solvent.[citation needed] Thus, "discrimination" against (i.e., negative differential treatment of) potential insureds in the risk evaluation and premium-setting process is a necessary by-product of the fundamentals of insurance underwriting. For instance, insurers charge older people significantly higher premiums than they charge younger people for term life insurance. Older people are thus treated differently than younger people (i.e., a distinction is made, discrimination occurs). The rationale for the differential treatment goes to the heart of the risk a life insurer takes: Old people are likely to die sooner than young people, so the risk of loss (the insured's death) is greater in any given period of time and therefore the risk premium must be higher to cover the greater risk. However, treating insureds differently when there is no actuarially sound reason for doing so is unlawful discrimination. What is often missing from the debate is that prohibiting the use of legitimate, actuarially sound factors means that an insufficient amount is being charged for a given risk, and there is thus a deficit in the system.[citation needed] The failure to address the deficit may mean insolvency and hardship for all of a company's insureds.[citation needed] The options for addressing the deficit seem to be the following: Charge the deficit to the other policyholders or charge it to the government (i.e., externalize outside of the company to society at large).[citation needed] [edit] Insurance patents Further information: Insurance patent New assurance products can now be protected from copying with a business method patent in the United States. A recent example of a new insurance product that is patented is Usage Based auto insurance. Early versions were independently invented and patented by a major U.S. auto insurance company, Progressive Auto Insurance (U.S. Patent 5,797,134) and a Spanish independent inventor, Salvador Minguijon Perez (EP patent 0700009). Many independent inventors are in favor of patenting new insurance products since it gives them protection from big companies when they bring their new insurance products to market. Independent inventors account for 70% of the new U.S. patent applications in this area. Many insurance executives are opposed to patenting insurance products because it creates a new risk for them. The Hartford insurance company, for example, recently had to pay $80 million to an independent inventor, Bancorp Services, in order to settle a patent infringement and theft of trade secret lawsuit for a type of corporate owned life insurance product invented and patented by Bancorp. There are currently about 150 new patent applications on insurance inventions filed per year in the United States. The rate at which patents have issued has steadily risen from 15 in 2002 to 44 in 2006. [18] Inventors can now have their insurance U.S. patent applications reviewed by the public in the Peer to Patent program.[19] The first insurance patent application to be posted was US2009005522 ?Risk assessment company?. It was posted on March 6, 2009. This patent application describes a method for increasing the ease of changing insurance companies.[20] [edit] The insurance industry and rent seeking Certain insurance products and practices have been described as rent seeking by critics.[citation needed] That is, some insurance products or practices are useful primarily because of legal benefits, such as reducing taxes, as opposed to providing protection against risks of adverse events. Under United States tax law, for example, most owners of variable annuities and variable life insurance can invest their premium payments in the stock market and defer or eliminate paying any taxes on their investments until withdrawals are made. Sometimes this tax deferral is the only reason people use these products.[citation needed] Another example is the legal infrastructure which allows life insurance to be held in an irrevocable trust which is used to pay an estate tax while the proceeds themselves are immune from the estate tax. What Everyone Needs to Know about Health Insurance Why do people desire health insurance? If you answer "to pay for medical expenses", stop for a minute. Do you have food insurance to pay for food expenses, or textile insurance to pay for clothes? Of course not. We recognize that insurance makes no sense for food and clothing. Why do we treat medical expenses differently, expecting routine care to be covered by insurance? What is insurance really about? Insurance is a vehicle for spreading risk. The participants prefer a small but certain cost instead of a large but unlikely cost. Let's proceed by analogy, using household fire insurance to explain some important features of insurance in general, and health insurance in particular. The odds of your home burning down are low, but the cost if it happens is tremendous. For most people, the uninsured loss of their home would be a ruinous financial burden. By purchasing insurance, they are protected from the catastrophe, but must regularly pay an insurance premium to get this protection. As economists never tire of saying, there are no free lunches. In total, insurance premiums must exceed insurance claims or the insurer will go out of business. The cost of anything covered by insurance is paid for through insurance premiums. For insurance companies to pay more or higher claims, premiums must correspondingly increase. In the case of health care, the tax-advantaged status of insurance premiums has created a large distortion in the market. General medical spending is only tax-advantaged if it exceeds an certain (uncommon) percentage of your income, but employer-paid insurance premiums are always tax-advantaged. The other mantra of economics (besides "no free lunches") is that incentives matter. Most people don't qualify for the tax benefit on out-of-pocket medical spending, but through their employer they do get the tax benefit for insurance premiums. Because insurance premiums fundamentally match insurance claims, in aggregate, an insurance premium can be considered as simply another way ? a tax-advantaged way ? of paying for health care. The incentive is to pay for medical care through insurance premiums rather than out-of-pocket. This favors insurance plans that offer wider coverage and smaller co-pays or deductibles. If you haven't ever thought of it this way, and therefore think you haven't been affected by the tax incentive, I have good news for you: You didn't have to think of it, because your employer and the insurance companies already figured it out. The process of economic competition has brought you the tax benefit even as you were unaware of it. An interesting historical note in this area is that employer-provided health insurance grew out of price and wage controls during World War II. Prohibited from raising wages, employers competed for employees by raising non-wage benefits such as health insurance. If you stop to think for a moment, doesn't it seem strange that individuals themselves pay for all kinds of insurance except health insurance? What sense does it make for any kind of insurance to be tied to your job? It doesn't; it's a legacy of wartime economic intervention that tax incentives have made permanent. Whenever a market doesn't make sense, look for government intervention. You'll find it. What are the effects of low co-pay/deductible, wide-coverage health insurance? Consumers don't pay much attention to price. (When was the last time you compared different doctors' prices for an office visit? If your co-pay is always the same, you don't care what the total cost is.) The aggregative nature of health insurance means that any individual's health care decisions have a negligible impact on premiums. The incentive is to consume more, because other people bear almost all the cost. When large numbers of people do this, premiums increase. This is a description of what has been happening in the United States over the past several years. As aggregate systems of payment grow, the system more and more resembles a socialist one. The end state of this trend, nationalized health care, is within sight and is positively desired by many. Socialism only strengthens the perverse incentive to consume as much health care as possible. Socialist systems "solve" the problem of ballooning costs by rationing. In Canada it takes months to get an MRI scan; in England it takes years. Rationing has come to the United States also, in the form of HMOs denying treatments. Fortunately, in the United States, federalism has made it possible to experiment with and to end socialist systems before they reach their full destructive potential. (That program, incidentally, was very similar to Kerry's national health care plan. Its cancellation ? by a Democratic governor ? should give supporters of Kerry's plan serious pause and reflection.) What would I like to see? I would like to see a move back toward insurance as insurance ? protection against catastrophe ? instead of an aggregate payment system for health care. The way to achieve this is to end the tax advantage of employer-paid premiums over out-of-pocket payment. Health Savings Accounts do this by giving the same tax advantage to both, making high-deductible (catastrophic) coverage attractive again. This form of coverage restores the incentive of individuals to pay attention to price, rekindling economic competition and simultaneously reducing excessive consumption of health care. The most serious objection to my proposal is that people who have chronic conditions will be worse off. As people who are low consumers of health care migrate to catastrophic coverage, the subsidy they had been implicitly providing to the chronically ill will be reduced. This is true, and in fact is a major personal motivation for me to switch to a catastrophic coverage plan with a Health Savings Account. I don't want to be involved in a quasi-socialist scheme paying for other peoples' medical bills. This is a complicated matter to address and requires additional background. Imagine a town filled with very similar homes, each with a small risk of fire. If everyone buys an insurance policy, the people whose houses burn down are covered. The others have lost a little money paying premiums. Ordinarily people are happy to do this; most people prefer a small but certain cost over a large but unlikely cost. So far we have assumed the risk is evenly distributed. What if it isn't? What if the investigation of a fire showed that it was caused by particularly bad wiring, and that it was known exactly half the homes in town had been wired similarly and were therefore at increased risk of burning down? This discovery changes the risk assessment. Fires in half of the homes are more likely than had been previously realized. Higher claims must mean higher premiums. (There are no free lunches.) At this point the insurer faces an alternative. Should everybody pay higher premiums to cover the overall higher rate of claims, or should just the high-risk group pay higher premiums? The free-market outcome would be for only the high-risk group to pay higher premiums. If the insurer tried to raise everyone's premium, the low-risk group would be unhappy and would switch to a competing insurer who offered the original premium on the condition of knowing the house had low-risk wiring. Because the risk groups are identifiable, the natural outcome is a separation between them. Each person would be in an insurance pool with others of a similar risk profile, and their premiums would reflect their risk. (DWL: Please no nitpicking about situations without stable equilibria, I'm trying to keep this simple!) The alternative of everyone paying a higher premium could be obtained through government intervention. However, it contains an implicit transfer of funds from the low-risk group to the high-risk group. That arrangement would be favored by the high-risk group but resented by the low-risk group. Because the situation is politically created, the friction between those two groups becomes a political matter, with all that that implies. The example of discovering bad wiring is analogous to a person discovering they have significant risk factors for a serious disease. It increases their likelihood of making insurance claims. Adjusting fire insurance premiums based on the quality of the house's wiring is analogous to adjusting health insurance premiums based on risk factors. Chronic conditions may be thought of as a risk with probability 1. Just as bad wiring is in no way the fault of the homeowner, a chronic condition may be (or in the case of genetics, is) in no way the fault of the patient. However, insurance is based on risk, not on fault or need. There is no free lunch in insurance or anywhere else. On an aggregate basis, every person should expect to pay more in premiums than they ever collect in claims. Insurance isn't a vehicle to save money. Insurance isn't a vehicle to pay for expenses. Insurance is a vehicle to dilute risk. If you have any other expectation, you will be disappointed. In a free market, people with chronic conditions will not be subsidized through the insurance system by people without chronic conditions. And that is as it should be. No one has the right to force the cost of their higher risk to be shouldered by someone else. Not in fire insurance, and not in health insurance. The fair outcome is to be in an insurance pool with people of similar risk. You may find it morally repulsive that the chronically sick must pay the most out-of-pocket. Yet it is undeniably true that they are the highest-risk group. I encourage you to ease your conscience with your wallet, not your vote ? give to medical charities or directly to those in need. Do not hijack and politicize the insurance system. That leads to socialism and the destruction of effective health care for everyone. Let insurance be insurance, and let charity be charity. Do not confuse the two. Lawyer A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person licensed to practice law."[1] Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain stability, and deliver justice. Working as a lawyer involves the practical application of abstract legal theories and knowledge to solve specific individualized problems, or to advance the interests of those who retain (i.e., hire) lawyers to perform legal services. The role of the lawyer varies significantly across legal jurisdictions, and so it can be treated here in only the most general terms.[2][3] More information is available in country-specific Terminology In practice, legal jurisdictions exercise their right to determine who is recognized as being a lawyer; as a result, the meaning of the term "lawyer" may vary from place to place.[4] * In New Zealand and Australia the word "lawyer" is used to refer to both barristers and solicitors (whether in private practice or practising as corporate in-house counsel). * In Canada, the word "lawyer" only refers to individuals who have been called to the bar or have qualified as civil law notaries in the province of Quebec. Common law lawyers in Canada may also be known as "barristers and solicitors", but should not be referred to as "attorneys", since that term has a different meaning in Canadian usage. However, in Quebec, civil law advocates (or avocats in French) often call themselves "attorney" and sometimes "barrister and solicitor". * In England, "lawyer" is used loosely to refer to a broad variety of law-trained persons. It includes practitioners such as barristers, solicitors, legal executives and licensed conveyancers; and people who are involved with the law but do not practise it on behalf of individual clients, such as judges, court clerks, and drafters of legislation. * In India, the term "lawyer" is often colloquially used, but the official term is "advocate" as prescribed under the Advocates Act, 1961.[5] * In Scotland, the word "lawyer" refers to a more specific group of legally trained people. It specifically includes advocates and solicitors. In a generic sense, it may also include judges and law-trained support staff. * In the United States, the term generally refers to attorneys who may practice law; it is never used to refer to patent agents[6] or paralegals.[7] * Other nations tend to have comparable terms for the analogous concept. [edit] Responsibilities In most countries, particularly civil law countries, there has been a tradition of giving many legal tasks to a variety of civil law notaries, clerks, and scriveners.[8][9] These countries do not have "lawyers" in the American sense, insofar as that term refers to a single type of general-purpose legal services provider;[10] rather, their legal professions consist of a large number of different kinds of law-trained persons, known as jurists, of which only some are advocates who are licensed to practice in the courts.[11][12][13] It is difficult to formulate accurate generalizations that cover all the countries with multiple legal professions, because each country has traditionally had its own peculiar method of dividing up legal work among all its different types of legal professionals.[14] Notably, England, the mother of the common law jurisdictions, emerged from the Dark Ages with similar complexity in its legal professions, but then evolved by the 19th century to a single dichotomy between barristers and solicitors. An equivalent dichotomy developed between advocates and procurators in some civil law countries, though these two types did not always monopolize the practice of law as much as barristers and solicitors, in that they always coexisted with civil law notaries.[15][16][17] Several countries that originally had two or more legal professions have since fused or united their professions into a single type of lawyer.[18][19][20][21] Most countries in this category are common law countries, though France, a civil law country, merged together its jurists in 1990 and 1991 in response to Anglo-American competition.[22] In countries with fused professions, a lawyer is usually permitted to carry out all or nearly all the responsibilities listed below. [edit] Oral argument in the courts Arguing a client's case before a judge or jury in a court of law is the traditional province of the barrister in England, and of advocates in some civil law jurisdictions.[23] However, the boundary between barristers and solicitors has evolved. In England today, the barrister monopoly covers only appellate courts, and barristers must compete directly with solicitors in many trial courts.[24] In countries like the United States that have fused legal professions, there are trial lawyers who specialize in trying cases in court, but trial lawyers do not have a de jure monopoly like barristers. In some countries, litigants have the option of arguing pro se, or on their own behalf. It is common for litigants to appear unrepresented before certain courts like small claims courts; indeed, many such courts do not allow lawyers to speak for their clients, in an effort to save money for all participants in a small case.[25] In other countries, like Venezuela, no one may appear before a judge unless represented by a lawyer.[26] The advantage of the latter regime is that lawyers are familiar with the court's customs and procedures, and make the legal system more efficient for all involved. Unrepresented parties often damage their own credibility or slow the court down as a result of their inexperience.[27][28] [edit] Research and drafting of court papers Often, lawyers brief a court in writing on the issues in a case before the issues can be orally argued. They may have to perform extensive research into relevant facts and law while drafting legal papers and preparing for oral argument. In England, the usual division of labour is that a solicitor will obtain the facts of the case from the client and then brief a barrister (usually in writing).[29] The barrister then researches and drafts the necessary court pleadings (which will be filed and served by the solicitor) and orally argues the case.[30] In Spain, the procurator merely signs and presents the papers to the court, but it is the advocate who drafts the papers and argues the case.[31] In some countries, like Japan, a scrivener or clerk may fill out court forms and draft simple papers for lay persons who cannot afford or do not need attorneys, and advise them on how to manage and argue their own cases.[32] [edit] Advocacy (written and oral) in administrative hearings In most developed countries, the legislature has granted original jurisdiction over highly technical matters to executive branch administrative agencies which oversee such things. As a result, some lawyers have become specialists in administrative law. In a few countries, there is a special category of jurists with a monopoly over this form of advocacy; for example, France formerly had conseil juridiques (who were merged into the main legal profession in 1991).[33] In other countries, like the United States, lawyers have been effectively barred by statute from certain types of administrative hearings in order to preserve their informality.[34] [edit] Client intake and counseling (with regard to pending litigation) An important aspect of a lawyer's job is developing and managing relationships with clients (or the client's employees, if the lawyer works in-house for a government or corporation). The client-lawyer relationship often begins with an intake interview where the lawyer gets to know the client personally, discovers the facts of the client's case, clarifies what the client wants to accomplish, shapes the client's expectations as to what actually can be accomplished, begins to develop various claims or defenses, and explains his or her fees to the client.[35][36] In England, only solicitors were traditionally in direct contact with the client.[37] The solicitor retained a barrister if one was necessary and acted as an intermediary between the barrister and the client.[38] In most cases a barrister would be obliged, under what is known as the "cab rank rule", to accept instructions for a case in an area in which they held themselves out as practising, at a court at which they normally appeared and at their usual rates.[39][40] [edit] Legal advice Main article: Legal advice Legal advice is the application of abstract principles of law to the concrete facts of the client's case in order to advise the client about what they should do next. In many countries, only a properly licensed lawyer may provide legal advice to clients for good consideration, even if no lawsuit is contemplated or is in progress.[41][42][43] Therefore, even conveyancers and corporate in-house counsel must first get a license to practice, though they may actually spend very little of their careers in court. Failure to obey such a rule is the crime of unauthorized practice of law.[44] In other countries, jurists who hold law degrees are allowed to provide legal advice to individuals or to corporations, and it is irrelevant if they lack a license and cannot appear in court.[45][46] Some countries go further; in England and Wales, there is no general prohibition on the giving of legal advice.[47] Sometimes civil law notaries are allowed to give legal advice, as in Belgium.[48] In many countries, non-jurist accountants may provide what is technically legal advice in tax and accounting matters.[49] [edit] Protecting intellectual property In virtually all countries, patents, trademarks, industrial designs and other forms of intellectual property must be formally registered with a government agency in order to receive maximum protection under the law. The division of such work among lawyers, licensed non-lawyer jurists/agents, and ordinary clerks or scriveners varies greatly from one country to the next.[32][50] [edit] Negotiating and drafting contracts In some countries, the negotiating and drafting of contracts is considered to be similar to the provision of legal advice, so that it is subject to the licensing requirement explained above.[51] In others, jurists or notaries may negotiate or draft contracts.[52] Lawyers in some civil law countries traditionally deprecated "transactional law" or "business law" as beneath them. French law firms developed transactional departments only in the 1990s when they started to lose business to international firms based in the United States and the United Kingdom (where solicitors have always done transactional work).[53] [edit] Conveyancing Conveyancing is the drafting of the documents necessary for the transfer of real property, such as deeds and mortgages. In some jurisdictions, all real estate transactions must be carried out by a lawyer (or a solicitor where that distinction still exists).[54] Such a monopoly is quite valuable from the lawyer's point of view; historically, conveyancing accounted for about half of English solicitors' income (though this has since changed),[55] and a 1978 study showed that conveyancing "accounts for as much as 80 percent of solicitor-client contact in New South Wales."[56] In most common law jurisdictions outside of the United States, this monopoly arose from an 1804 law[57] that was introduced by William Pitt the Younger as a quid pro quo for the raising of fees on the certification of legal professionals such as barristers, solicitors, attorneys and notaries.[58] In others, the use of a lawyer is optional and banks, title companies, or realtors may be used instead.[59] In some civil law jurisdictions, real estate transactions are handled by civil law notaries.[60] In England and Wales a special class of legal professional?the licensed conveyancer?is also allowed to carry out conveyancing services for reward.[61] [edit] Carrying out the intent of the deceased In many countries, only lawyers have the legal authority to draft wills, trusts, and any other documents that ensure the efficient disposition of a person's property after death. In some civil law countries this responsibility is handled by civil law notaries.[52] In the United States, the estates of the deceased must generally be administered by a court through probate. American lawyers have a profitable monopoly on dispensing advice about probate law (which has been heavily criticized).[62] [edit] Prosecution and defense of criminal suspects In many civil law countries, prosecutors are trained and employed as part of the judiciary; they are law-trained jurists, but may not necessarily be lawyers in the sense that the word is used in the common law world.[63] In common law countries, prosecutors are usually lawyers holding regular licenses who simply happen to work for the government office that files criminal charges against suspects. Criminal defense lawyers specialize in the defense of those charged with any crimes.[64] [edit] Education Main article: Legal education The educational prerequisites to becoming a lawyer vary greatly from country to country. In some countries, law is taught by a faculty of law, which is a department of a university's general undergraduate college.[65] Law students in those countries pursue a Master or Bachelor of Laws degree. In some countries it is common or even required for students to earn another bachelor's degree at the same time. Nor is the LL.B the sole obstacle; it is often followed by a series of advanced examinations, apprenticeships, and additional coursework at special government institutes.[66] In other countries, particularly the United States, law is primarily taught at law schools. In the United States[67] and countries following the American model, (such as Canada[68] with the exception of the province of Quebec) law schools are graduate/professional schools where a bachelor's degree is a prerequisite for admission. Most law schools are part of universities but a few are independent institutions. Law schools in the United States (and many in Canada and elsewhere) award graduating students a J.D. (Juris Doctor/Doctor of Jurisprudence) (as opposed to the Bachelor of Laws) as the practitioner's law degree. Many schools also offer post-doctoral law degrees such as the LL.M (Legum Magister/Master of Laws), or the S.J.D. (Scientiae Juridicae Doctor/Doctor of Juridical Science) for students interested in advancing their research knowledge and credentials in a specific area of law.[69] The methods and quality of legal education vary widely. Some countries require extensive clinical training in the form of apprenticeships or special clinical courses.[70] Others do not, like Venezuela.[71] A few countries prefer to teach through assigned readings of judicial opinions (the casebook method) followed by intense in-class cross-examination by the professor (the Socratic method).[72][73] Many others have only lectures on highly abstract legal doctrines, which forces young lawyers to figure out how to actually think and write like a lawyer at their first apprenticeship (or job).[74][75][76] Depending upon the country, a typical class size could range from five students in a seminar to five hundred in a giant lecture room. In the United States, law schools maintain small class sizes, and as such, grant admissions on a more limited and competitive basis.[77] Some countries, particularly industrialized ones, have a traditional preference for full-time law programs,[78] while in developing countries, students often work full- or part-time to pay the tuition and fees of their part-time law programs.[79][80] Law schools in developing countries share several common problems, such as an overreliance on practicing judges and lawyers who treat teaching as a part-time hobby (and a concomitant scarcity of full-time law professors);[81][82] incompetent faculty with questionable credentials;[83] and textbooks that lag behind the current state of the law by two or three decades.[81][84] [edit] Earning the right to practice law Main article: Admission to practice law Some jurisdictions grant a "diploma privilege" to certain institutions, so that merely earning a degree or credential from those institutions is the primary qualification for practicing law.[85] Mexico allows anyone with a law degree to practice law.[86] However, in a large number of countries, a law student must pass a bar examination (or a series of such examinations) before receiving a license to practice.[85][87][88] In a handful of U.S. states, one may become an attorney (a so-called country lawyer) by simply "reading law" and passing the bar examination, without having to attend law school first (although very few people actually become lawyers that way).[89] Some countries require a formal apprenticeship with an experienced practitioner, while others do not.[90] For example, a few jurisdictions still allow an apprenticeship in place of any kind of formal legal education (though the number of persons who actually become lawyers that way is increasingly rare).[91] [edit] Career structure U.S. President Abraham Lincoln is a famous example of a lawyer-turned-politician. The career structure of lawyers varies widely from one country to the next. [edit] Common law/civil law In most common law countries, especially those with fused professions, lawyers have many options over the course of their careers. Besides private practice, they can become a prosecutor, government counsel, corporate in-house counsel, administrative law judge, judge, arbitrator, law professor, or politician.[92] There are also many non-legal jobs which legal training is good preparation for, such as corporate executive, government administrator, investment banker, entrepreneur, or journalist.[93] In developing countries like India, a large majority of law students never actually practice, but simply use their law degree as a foundation for careers in other fields.[94] In most civil law countries, lawyers generally structure their legal education around their chosen specialty; the boundaries between different types of lawyers are carefully defined and hard to cross. After one earns a law degree, career mobility may be severely constrained.[95] For example, unlike their American counterparts,[96] it is difficult for German judges to leave the bench and become advocates in private practice.[97] Another interesting example is France, where for much of the 20th century, all magistrates were graduates of an elite professional school for judges. Although the French magistracy has begun experimenting with the Anglo-American model of appointing judges from accomplished advocates, the few advocates who have actually joined the bench this way are looked down upon by their colleagues who have taken the traditional route to magistracy.[98] In a few civil law countries, such as Sweden,[99] the legal profession is not rigorously bifurcated and everyone within it can easily change roles and arenas. [edit] Specialization In many countries, lawyers are general practitioners who will take almost any kind of case that walks in the door.[100] In others, there has been a tendency since the start of the 20th century for lawyers to specialize early in their careers.[101][102] In countries where specialization is prevalent, many lawyers specialize in representing one side in one particular area of the law; thus, it is common in the United States to hear of plaintiffs' personal injury attorneys.[103] [edit] Organization Main article: Law firm Lawyers in private practice generally work in specialized businesses known as law firms,[104] with the exception of English barristers. The vast majority of law firms worldwide are small businesses that range in size from 1 to 10 lawyers.[105] The United States, with its large number of firms with more than 50 lawyers, is an exception.[106] The United Kingdom and Australia are also exceptions, as the UK, Australia and the U.S. are now home to several firms with more than 1,000 lawyers after a wave of mergers in the late 1990s. Notably, barristers in England and Wales and some states in Australia do not work in "law firms". Those who offer their services to the general public?as opposed to those working "in house"?are required to be self-employed.[107] Most work in groupings known as "sets" or "chambers", where some administrative and marketing costs are shared. An important effect of this different organizational structure is that there is no conflict of interest where barristers in the same chambers work for opposing sides in a case, and in some specialised chambers this is commonplace. [edit] Professional associations and regulation [edit] Mandatory licensing and membership in professional organizations In some jurisdictions, either the judiciary[108] or the Ministry of Justice[109] directly supervises the admission, licensing, and regulation of lawyers. Other jurisdictions, by statute, tradition, or court order, have granted such powers to a professional association which all lawyers must belong to.[110] In the U.S., such associations are known as mandatory, integrated, or unified bar associations. In the Commonwealth of Nations, similar organizations are known as Inns of Court, bar councils or law societies.[111] In civil law countries, comparable organizations are known as Orders of Advocates,[112] Chambers of Advocates,[113] Colleges of Advocates,[114] Faculties of Advocates,[115] or similar names. Generally, a nonmember caught practicing law may be liable for the crime of unauthorized practice of law.[116] In common law countries with divided legal professions, barristers traditionally belong to the bar council (or an Inn of Court) and solicitors belong to the law society. In the English-speaking world, the largest mandatory professional association of lawyers is the State Bar of California, with 200,000 members. Some countries admit and regulate lawyers at the national level, so that a lawyer, once licensed, can argue cases in any court in the land. This is common in small countries like New Zealand, Japan, and Belgium.[117] Others, especially those with federal governments, tend to regulate lawyers at the state or provincial level; this is the case in the United States,[118] Canada,[119] Australia,[120] and Switzerland,[121] to name a few. Brazil is the most well-known federal government that regulates lawyers at the national level.[122] Some countries, like Italy, regulate lawyers at the regional level,[123] and a few, like Belgium, even regulate them at the local level (that is, they are licensed and regulated by the local equivalent of bar associations but can advocate in courts nationwide).[124] In Germany, lawyers are admitted to regional bars and may appear for clients before all courts nationwide with the exception of the Federal Court of Justice of Germany (Bundesgerichtshof or BGH); oddly, securing admission to the BGH's bar limits a lawyer's practice solely to the supreme federal courts and the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany.[125] Generally, geographic limitations can be troublesome for a lawyer who discovers that his client's cause requires him to litigate in a court beyond the normal geographic scope of his license. Although most courts have special pro hac vice rules for such occasions, the lawyer will still have to deal with a different set of professional responsibility rules, as well as the possibility of other differences in substantive and procedural law. Some countries grant licenses to non-resident lawyers, who may then appear regularly on behalf of foreign clients. Others require all lawyers to live in the jurisdiction or to even hold national citizenship as a prerequisite for receiving a license to practice. But the trend in industrialized countries since the 1970s has been to abolish citizenship and residency restrictions. For example, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down a citizenship requirement on equality rights grounds in 1989,[126] and similarly, American citizenship and residency requirements were struck down as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 and 1985, respectively.[127] The European Court of Justice made similar decisions in 1974 and 1977 striking down citizenship restrictions in Belgium and France.[128] [edit] Who regulates lawyers A key difference among countries is whether lawyers should be regulated solely by an independent judiciary and its subordinate institutions (a self-regulating legal profession),[129] or whether lawyers should be subject to supervision by the Ministry of Justice in the executive branch. In most civil law countries, the government has traditionally exercised tight control over the legal profession in order to ensure a steady supply of loyal judges and bureaucrats. That is, lawyers were expected first and foremost to serve the state, and the availability of counsel for private litigants was an afterthought.[130] Even in civil law countries like Norway which have partially self-regulating professions, the Ministry of Justice is the sole issuer of licenses, and makes its own independent re-evaluation of a lawyer's fitness to practice after a lawyer has been expelled from the Advocates' Association.[109] Brazil is an unusual exception in that its national Order of Advocates has become a fully self-regulating institution (with direct control over licensing) and has successfully resisted government attempts to place it under the control of the Ministry of Labor.[131][132] Of all the civil law countries, Communist countries historically went the farthest towards total state control, with all Communist lawyers forced to practice in collectives by the mid-1950s.[133][134] China is a prime example: technically, the People's Republic of China did not have lawyers, and instead had only poorly-trained, state-employed "legal workers," prior to the enactment of a comprehensive reform package in 1996 by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.[135] In contrast, common law lawyers have traditionally regulated themselves through institutions where the influence of non-lawyers, if any, was weak and indirect (despite nominal state control).[136] Such institutions have been traditionally dominated by private practitioners who opposed strong state control of the profession on the grounds that it would endanger the ability of lawyers to zealously and competently advocate their clients' causes in the adversarial system of justice.[137] However, the concept of the self-regulating profession has been criticized as a sham which serves to legitimize the professional monopoly while protecting the profession from public scrutiny.[138] Disciplinary mechanisms have been astonishingly ineffective, and penalties have been light or nonexistent.[139][140][141] [edit] Voluntary associations of lawyers Lawyers are always free to form voluntary associations of their own, apart from any licensing or mandatory membership that may be required by the laws of their jurisdiction. Like their mandatory counterparts, such organizations may exist at all geographic levels.[86][142] In American English, such associations are known as voluntary bar associations.[143] The largest voluntary professional association of lawyers in the English-speaking world is the American Bar Association. In some countries, like France and Italy, lawyers have also formed trade unions.[144] [edit] Cultural perception of lawyers Hostility towards the legal profession is a widespread phenomenon. The legal profession was abolished in Prussia in 1780 and in France in 1789, though both countries eventually realized that their judicial systems could not function efficiently without lawyers.[145] Complaints about too many lawyers were common in both England and the United States in the 1840s[146][147] Germany in the 1910s,[148] and in Australia,[149] Canada,[150] the United States,[151][152][153] and Scotland[154] in the 1980s. Public distrust of lawyers reached record heights in the United States after the Watergate scandal.[153][155] In the aftermath of Watergate, legal self-help books became popular among those who wished to solve their legal problems without having to deal with lawyers.[156] Lawyer jokes (already a perennial favorite) also soared in popularity in English-speaking North America as a result of Watergate.[157] In 1989, American legal self-help publisher Nolo Press published a 171-page compilation of negative anecdotes about lawyers from throughout human history.[158] In Adventures in Law and Justice (2003), legal researcher Bryan Horrigan dedicated a chapter to "Myths, Fictions, and Realities" about law and illustrated the perennial criticism of lawyers as "amoral [...] guns for hire"[159] with a quote from Ambrose Bierce's satirical The Devil's Dictionary (1911) that summarized the noun as: "LAWYER, n. One skilled in circumvention of the law."[160] More generally, in Legal Ethics: A Comparative Study (2004), law professor Geoffrey C. Hazard, Jr. with Angelo Dondi briefly examined the "regulations attempting to suppress lawyer misconduct" and noted that their similarity around the world was paralleled by a "remarkable consistency" in certain "persistant grievances" about lawyers that transcends both time and locale, from the Bible to medieval England to dynastic China.[161] The authors then generalized these common complaints about lawyers as being classified into five "general categories" as follows: ? * abuse of litigation in various ways, including using dilatory tactics and false evidence and making frivolous arguments to the courts; * preparation of false documentation, such as false deeds, contracts, or wills; * deceiving clients and other persons and misappropriating property; * procrastination in dealings with clients; and * charging excessive fees.[161] ? [edit] Compensation Main article: Attorney's fee Lawyers are paid for their work in a variety of ways. In private practice, they may work for an hourly fee according to a billable hour structure,[162] a contingency fee[163] (usually in cases involving personal injury), or a lump sum payment if the matter is straightforward. Normally, most lawyers negotiate a written fee agreement up front and may require a non-refundable retainer in advance. In many countries there are fee-shifting arrangements by which the loser must pay the winner's fees and costs; the United States is the major exception,[164] although in turn, its legislators have carved out many exceptions to the so-called "American Rule" of no fee shifting. Lawyers working directly on the payroll of governments, nonprofits, and corporations usually earn a regular annual salary.[165] In many countries, with the notable exception of Germany,[166] lawyers can also volunteer their labor in the service of worthy causes through an arrangement called pro bono (for the common good).[167] Traditionally such work was performed on behalf of the poor, but in some countries it has now expanded to many other causes such as the environment. In some countries, there are legal aid lawyers who specialize in providing legal services to the indigent.[168][169] France and Spain even have formal fee structures by which lawyers are compensated by the government for legal aid cases on a per-case basis.[170] A similar system, though not as extensive or generous, operates in Australia, Canada, as well as South Africa.[citation needed] In other countries, legal aid specialists are practically nonexistent. This may be because non-lawyers are allowed to provide such services; in both Italy and Belgium, trade unions and political parties provide what can be characterized as legal aid services.[171] Some legal aid in Belgium is also provided by young lawyer apprentices subsidized by local bar associations (known as the pro deo system), as well as consumer protection nonprofit organizations and Public Assistance Agencies subsidized by local governments.[172] In Germany, mandatory fee structures have enabled widespread implementation of affordable legal expense insurance.[173] [edit] History Main article: History of the legal profession 16th century painting of a civil law notary, by Flemish painter Quentin Massys. A civil law notary is roughly analogous to a common law solicitor, except that, unlike solicitors, civil law notaries do not practice litigation to any degree. [edit] Ancient Greece The earliest people who could be described as "lawyers" were probably the orators of ancient Athens (see History of Athens). However, Athenian orators faced serious structural obstacles. First, there was a rule that individuals were supposed to plead their own cases, which was soon bypassed by the increasing tendency of individuals to ask a "friend" for assistance.[174] However, around the middle of the fourth century, the Athenians disposed of the perfunctory request for a friend.[175] Second, a more serious obstacle, which the Athenian orators never completely overcame, was the rule that no one could take a fee to plead the cause of another. This law was widely disregarded in practice, but was never abolished, which meant that orators could never present themselves as legal professionals or experts.[176] They had to uphold the legal fiction that they were merely an ordinary citizen generously helping out a friend for free, and thus they could never organize into a real profession?with professional associations and titles and all the other pomp and circumstance?like their modern counterparts.[177] Therefore, if one narrows the definition to those men who could practice the legal profession openly and legally, then the first lawyers would have to be the orators of ancient Rome.[178] [edit] Early Ancient Rome A law enacted in 204 BC barred Roman advocates from taking fees, but the law was widely ignored.[179] The ban on fees was abolished by Emperor Claudius, who legalized advocacy as a profession and allowed the Roman advocates to become the first lawyers who could practice openly?but he also imposed a fee ceiling of 10,000 sesterces.[180] This was apparently not much money; the Satires of Juvenal complain that there was no money in working as an advocate.[181] Like their Greek contemporaries, early Roman advocates were trained in rhetoric, not law, and the judges before whom they argued were also not law-trained.[182] But very early on, unlike Athens, Rome developed a class of specialists who were learned in the law, known as jurisconsults (iuris consulti).[183] Jurisconsults were wealthy amateurs who dabbled in law as an intellectual hobby; they did not make their primary living from it.[183] They gave legal opinions (responsa) on legal issues to all comers (a practice known as publice respondere).[184] Roman judges and governors would routinely consult with an advisory panel of jurisconsults before rendering a decision, and advocates and ordinary people also went to jurisconsults for legal opinions.[183] Thus, the Romans were the first to have a class of people who spent their days thinking about legal problems, and this is why their law became so "precise, detailed, and technical."[183] [edit] Late Ancient Rome During the Roman Republic and the early Roman Empire, jurisconsults and advocates were unregulated, since the former were amateurs and the latter were technically illegal.[185] Any citizen could call himself an advocate or a legal expert, though whether people believed him would depend upon his personal reputation. This changed once Claudius legalized the legal profession. By the start of the Byzantine Empire, the legal profession had become well-established, heavily regulated, and highly stratified.[186] The centralization and bureaucratization of the profession was apparently gradual at first, but accelerated during the reign of Emperor Hadrian.[187] At the same time, the jurisconsults went into decline during the imperial period.[188] In the words of Fritz Schulz, "by the fourth century things had changed in the eastern Empire: advocates now were really lawyers."[189] For example, by the fourth century, advocates had to be enrolled on the bar of a court to argue before it, they could only be attached to one court at a time, and there were restrictions (which came and went depending upon who was emperor) on how many advocates could be enrolled at a particular court.[190] By the 380s, advocates were studying law in addition to rhetoric (thus reducing the need for a separate class of jurisconsults); in 460, Emperor Leo imposed a requirement that new advocates seeking admission had to produce testimonials from their teachers; and by the sixth century, a regular course of legal study lasting about four years was required for admission.[191] Claudius's fee ceiling lasted all the way into the Byzantine period, though by then it was measured at 100 solidi.[192] Of course, it was widely evaded, either through demands for maintenance and expenses or a sub rosa barter transaction.[192] The latter was cause for disbarment.[192] The notaries (tabelliones) appeared in the late Roman Empire. Like their modern-day descendants, the civil law notaries, they were responsible for drafting wills, conveyances, and contracts.[193] They were ubiquitous and most villages had one.[193] In Roman times, notaries were widely considered to be inferior to advocates and jurisconsults.[193] Roman notaries were not law-trained; they were barely literate hacks who wrapped the simplest transactions in mountains of legal jargon, since they were paid by the line.[194] [edit] Middle Ages After the fall of the western Empire and the onset of the Dark Ages, the legal profession of Western Europe collapsed. As James Brundage has explained: "[by 1140], no one in Western Europe could properly be described as a professional lawyer or a professional canonist in anything like the modern sense of the term 'professional.' "[195] However, from 1150 onward, a small but increasing number of men became experts in canon law but only in furtherance of other occupational goals, such as serving the Roman Catholic Church as priests.[196] From 1190 to 1230, however, there was a crucial shift in which some men began to practice canon law as a lifelong profession in itself.[197] The legal profession's return was marked by the renewed efforts of church and state to regulate it. In 1231 two French councils mandated that lawyers had to swear an oath of admission before practicing before the bishop's courts in their regions, and a similar oath was promulgated by the papal legate in London in 1237.[198] During the same decade, Frederick II, the emperor of the Kingdom of Sicily, imposed a similar oath in his civil courts.[199] By 1250 the nucleus of a new legal profession had clearly formed.[200] The new trend towards professionalization culminated in a controversial proposal at the Second Council of Lyon in 1275 that all ecclesiastical courts should require an oath of admission.[201] Although not adopted by the council, it was highly influential in many such courts throughout Europe.[201] The civil courts in England also joined the trend towards professionalization; in 1275 a statute was enacted that prescribed punishment for professional lawyers guilty of deceit, and in 1280 the mayor's court of the city of London promulgated regulations concerning admission procedures, including the administering of an oath.[202] [edit] Titles Generally speaking, the modern practice is for lawyers to avoid use of any title, although formal practice varies across the world. Historically lawyers in most European countries were addressed with the title of doctor, and countries outside of Europe have generally followed the practice of the European country which had policy influence through "modernization" or "colonialization." The first university degrees, starting with the law school of the University of Bologna (or glossators) in the 11th century, were all law degrees and doctorates.[203] Degrees in other fields did not start until the 13th century, but the doctor continued to be the only degree offered at many of the old universities until the 20th century. Therefore, in many of the southern European countries, including Portugal, Spain and Italy,,[204] lawyers have traditionally been addressed as ?doctor,? a practice which was transferred to many countries in South America[205] (including Macau in China).[206] Because the law degrees are no longer doctorate level degrees, the formal ?doctor? title for lawyers is either seen as archaic or incorrect, although it is still a legal title in Italy and in use in many countries outside of Europe.[207] The title of doctor has never been used to address lawyers in England or other common law countries (with the exception of the United States). This is because until 1846 lawyers in England were not required to have a university degree and were trained by other attorneys by apprenticeship or in the Inns of Court.[208] Since law degrees started to become a requirement for lawyers in England, the degree awarded has been the undergraduate LL.B. Even though most lawyers in the United States do not use any titles, the law degree in that country is the Juris Doctor, a professional doctorate degree,[209] and some J.D. holders in the United States use the title of "Doctor" in professional[210] and academic situations.[211] In countries where holders of the first law degree traditionally use the title of doctor (e.g. Peru, Brazil, Macau, Portugal, Argentina, and Italy),[212] J.D. holders who are attorneys will often use the title of doctor as well.[213] It is not uncommon for English-language lawyers, especially in the United States, to use the honorific suffix "Esq." (for "Esquire"), irrespective of whether the lawyer is male or female.[214] In many Asian countries, the proper title for a lawyer is simply, "lawyer", but holders of the Juris Doctor degree are also called "??" (doctor). Myocardial infarction Myocardial infarction (MI) or acute myocardial infarction (AMI), commonly known as a heart attack, is the interruption of blood supply to part of the heart, causing some heart cells to die. This is most commonly due to occlusion (blockage) of a coronary artery following the rupture of a vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque, which is an unstable collection of lipids (like cholesterol) and white blood cells (especially macrophages) in the wall of an artery. The resulting ischemia (restriction in blood supply) and oxygen shortage, if left untreated for a sufficient period of time, can cause damage or death (infarction) of heart muscle tissue (myocardium). Classical symptoms of acute myocardial infarction include sudden chest pain (typically radiating to the left arm or left side of the neck), shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, palpitations, sweating, and anxiety (often described as a sense of impending doom). Women may experience fewer typical symptoms than men, most commonly shortness of breath, weakness, a feeling of indigestion, and fatigue.[1] Approximately one quarter of all myocardial infarctions are silent, without chest pain or other symptoms. A heart attack is a medical emergency, and people experiencing chest pain are advised to alert their emergency medical services because prompt protection with an external defibrillator can save your life from primary ventricular fibrillation which occurs unexpectedly in 10% of all myocardial infarctions especially during the first hours of symptoms. Contemporary treatment of many myocardial infarctions can result in survival and even good outcomes. While it is true that certain less amenable cases are very massive and rapidly fatal "widowmakers", it is also true that in small attacks with limited damage and optimal treatment the heart muscle can be salvaged. Heart attacks are the leading cause of death for both men and women all over the world.[2] Important risk factors are previous cardiovascular disease (such as angina, a previous heart attack or stroke), older age (especially men over 40 and women over 50), tobacco smoking, high blood levels of certain lipids (triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein or "bad cholesterol") and low levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL, "good cholesterol"), diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, chronic kidney disease, heart failure, excessive alcohol consumption, the abuse of certain drugs (such as cocaine and methamphetamine), and chronic high stress levels.[3][4] Immediate treatment for suspected acute myocardial infarction includes oxygen, aspirin, and sublingual glyceryl trinitrate (colloquially referred to as nitroglycerin and abbreviated as NTG or GTN). Pain relief is also often given, classically morphine sulfate.[5] However, a 2009 review about the use of high flow oxygen for treating myocardial infarction found its administration increased mortality and infarct size, calling into question the recommendation for its routine use.[6] The patient will receive a number of diagnostic tests, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG), a chest X-ray and blood tests to detect elevations in cardiac markers (blood tests to detect heart muscle damage). The most often used markers are the creatine kinase-MB (CK-MB) fraction and the troponin I (TnI) or troponin T (TnT) levels. On the basis of the ECG, a distinction is made between ST elevation MI (STEMI) or non-ST elevation MI (NSTEMI). Most cases of STEMI are treated with thrombolysis or if possible with percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI, angioplasty and stent insertion), provided the hospital has facilities for coronary angiography. NSTEMI is managed with medication, although PCI is often performed during hospital admission. In patients who have multiple blockages and who are relatively stable, or in a few extraordinary emergency cases, bypass surgery of the blocked coronary artery is an option. The phrase "heart attack" is sometimes used incorrectly to describe sudden cardiac death, which may or may not be the result of acute myocardial infarction. A heart attack is different from, but can be the cause of cardiac arrest, which is the stopping of the heartbeat, and cardiac arrhythmia, an abnormal heartbeat. It is also distinct from heart failure, in which the pumping action of the heart is impaired; severe myocardial infarction may lead to heart failure, but not necessarily. Classification There are two basic types of acute myocardial infarction, (1) transmural MI- IS associated with atherosclerosis involving major coronary artery. It can be subclassified into anterior,posterior or inferior. (2) subendocardial MI- involves small area, in the subendocardial wall of the left ventricle,ventricular septum,papillary muscles. Clinically, myocardial infarction is further subclassified into ST elevation MI versus non ST elevation MI based on ECG changes. [edit] Signs and symptoms Rough diagram of pain zones in myocardial infarction (dark red = most typical area, light red = other possible areas, view of the chest). Back view. The onset of symptoms in myocardial infarction (MI) is usually gradual, over several minutes, and rarely instantaneous.[7] Chest pain is the most common symptom of acute myocardial infarction and is often described as a sensation of tightness, pressure, or squeezing. Chest pain due to ischemia (a lack of blood and hence oxygen supply) of the heart muscle is termed angina pectoris. Pain radiates most often to the left arm, but may also radiate to the lower jaw, neck, right arm, back, and epigastrium, where it may mimic heartburn. Levine's sign, in which the patient localizes the chest pain by clenching their fist over the sternum, has classically been thought to be predictive of cardiac chest pain, although a prospective observational study showed that it had a poor positive predictive value.[8] Shortness of breath (dyspnea) occurs when the damage to the heart limits the output of the left ventricle, causing left ventricular failure and consequent pulmonary edema. Other symptoms include diaphoresis (an excessive form of sweating), weakness, light-headedness, nausea, vomiting, and palpitations. These symptoms are likely induced by a massive surge of catecholamines from the sympathetic nervous system[9] which occurs in response to pain and the hemodynamic abnormalities that result from cardiac dysfunction. Loss of consciousness (due to inadequate cerebral perfusion and cardiogenic shock) and even sudden death (frequently due to the development of ventricular fibrillation) can occur in myocardial infarctions. Women and older patients experience atypical symptoms more frequently than their male and younger counterparts.[10] Women also have more symptoms compared to men (2.6 on average vs 1.8 symptoms in men).[10] The most common symptoms of MI in women include dyspnea, weakness, and fatigue. Fatigue, sleep disturbances, and dyspnea have been reported as frequently occurring symptoms which may manifest as long as one month before the actual clinically manifested ischemic event. In women, chest pain may be less predictive of coronary ischemia than in men.[11] Approximately half of all MI patients have experienced warning symptoms such as chest pain prior to the infarction.[12] Approximately one fourth of all myocardial infarctions are silent, without chest pain or other symptoms.[13] These cases can be discovered later on electrocardiograms or at autopsy without a prior history of related complaints. A silent course is more common in the elderly, in patients with diabetes mellitus[14] and after heart transplantation, probably because the donor heart is not connected to nerves of the host.[15] In diabetics, differences in pain threshold, autonomic neuropathy, and psychological factors have been cited as possible explanations for the lack of symptoms.[14] Any group of symptoms compatible with a sudden interruption of the blood flow to the heart are called an acute coronary syndrome.[16] The differential diagnosis includes other catastrophic causes of chest pain, such as pulmonary embolism, aortic dissection, pericardial effusion causing cardiac tamponade, tension pneumothorax, and esophageal rupture.[17] [edit] Causes and risk factors Heart attack rates are higher in association with intense exertion, be it psychological stress or physical exertion, especially if the exertion is more intense than the individual usually performs.[18] Quantitatively, the period of intense exercise and subsequent recovery is associated with about a 6-fold higher myocardial infarction rate (compared with other more relaxed time frames) for people who are physically very fit.[18] For those in poor physical condition, the rate differential is over 35-fold higher.[18] One observed mechanism for this phenomenon is the increased arterial pulse pressure stretching and relaxation of arteries with each heart beat which, as has been observed with intravascular ultrasound, increases mechanical "shear stress" on atheromas and the likelihood of plaque rupture.[18] Acute severe infection, such as pneumonia, can trigger myocardial infarction. A more controversial link is that between Chlamydophila pneumoniae infection and atherosclerosis.[19] While this intracellular organism has been demonstrated in atherosclerotic plaques, evidence is inconclusive as to whether it can be considered a causative factor.[19] Treatment with antibiotics in patients with proven atherosclerosis has not demonstrated a decreased risk of heart attacks or other coronary vascular diseases.[20] There is an association of an increased incidence of a heart attack in the morning hours, more specifically around 9 a.m. [21][22][23]. Some investigators have noticed that the ability of platelets to aggregate varies according to a circadian rhythm, although they have not proven causation.[24] Some investigators theorize that this increased incidence may be related to the circadian variation in cortisol production affecting the concentrations of various cytokines and other mediators of inflammation.[25] [edit] Risk factors Risk factors for atherosclerosis are generally risk factors for myocardial infarction: * Diabetes (with or without insulin resistance) - the single most important risk factor for ischaemic heart disease (IHD) * Tobacco smoking * Hypercholesterolemia (more accurately hyperlipoproteinemia, especially high low density lipoprotein and low high density lipoprotein) * High blood pressure * Family history of ischaemic heart disease (IHD) * Obesity[26] (defined by a body mass index of more than 30 kg/m?, or alternatively by waist circumference or waist-hip ratio). * Age Men acquire an independent risk factor at age 45, Women acquire an independent risk factor at age 55; in addition individuals acquire another independent risk factor if they have a first-degree male relative (brother,father)who suffered a coronary vascular event at or before age 55. Another independent risk factor is acquired if one has a first-degree female relative (mother,sister) who suffered a coronary vascular event at age 65 or younger. * Hyperhomocysteinemia (high homocysteine, a toxic blood amino acid that is elevated when intakes of vitamins B2, B6, B12 and folic acid are insufficient) * Stress (occupations with high stress index are known to have susceptibility for atherosclerosis) * Alcohol Studies show that prolonged exposure to high quantities of alcohol can increase the risk of heart attack Males are more at risk than females.[18] Many of these risk factors are modifiable, so many heart attacks can be prevented by maintaining a healthier lifestyle. Physical activity, for example, is associated with a lower risk profile.[27] Non-modifiable risk factors include age, sex, and family history of an early heart attack (before the age of 60), which is thought of as reflecting a genetic predisposition.[18] Socioeconomic factors such as a shorter education and lower income (particularly in women), and unmarried cohabitation may also contribute to the risk of MI.[28] To understand epidemiological study results, it's important to note that many factors associated with MI mediate their risk via other factors. For example, the effect of education is partially based on its effect on income and marital status.[28] Women who use combined oral contraceptive pills have a modestly increased risk of myocardial infarction, especially in the presence of other risk factors, such as smoking.[29] Inflammation is known to be an important step in the process of atherosclerotic plaque formation.[30] C-reactive protein (CRP) is a sensitive but non-specific marker for inflammation. Elevated CRP blood levels, especially measured with high sensitivity assays, can predict the risk of MI, as well as stroke and development of diabetes.[30] Moreover, some drugs for MI might also reduce CRP levels.[30] The use of high sensitivity CRP assays as a means of screening the general population is advised against, but it may be used optionally at the physician's discretion, in patients who already present with other risk factors or known coronary artery disease.[31] Whether CRP plays a direct role in atherosclerosis remains uncertain.[30] Inflammation in periodontal disease may be linked coronary heart disease, and since periodontitis is very common, this could have great consequences for public health.[32] Serological studies measuring antibody levels against typical periodontitis-causing bacteria found that such antibodies were more present in subjects with coronary heart disease.[33] Periodontitis tends to increase blood levels of CRP, fibrinogen and cytokines;[34] thus, periodontitis may mediate its effect on MI risk via other risk factors.[35] Preclinical research suggests that periodontal bacteria can promote aggregation of platelets and promote the formation of foam cells.[36][37] A role for specific periodontal bacteria has been suggested but remains to be established.[38] Baldness, hair greying, a diagonal earlobe crease (Frank's sign[39]) and possibly other skin features have been suggested as independent risk factors for MI.[40] Their role remains controversial; a common denominator of these signs and the risk of MI is supposed, possibly genetic. [41] Calcium deposition is another part of atherosclerotic plaque formation. Calcium deposits in the coronary arteries can be detected with CT scans. Several studies have shown that coronary calcium can provide predictive information beyond that of classical risk factors.[42][43][44] [edit] Pathophysiology A myocardial infarction occurs when an atherosclerotic plaque slowly builds up in the inner lining of a coronary artery and then suddenly ruptures, totally occluding the artery and preventing blood flow downstream. Main article: Acute coronary syndrome Acute myocardial infarction refers to two subtypes of acute coronary syndrome, namely non-ST-elevated myocardial infarction and ST-elevated myocardial infarction, which are most frequently (but not always) a manifestation of coronary artery disease. The most common triggering event is the disruption of an atherosclerotic plaque in an epicardial coronary artery, which leads to a clotting cascade, sometimes resulting in total occlusion of the artery. Atherosclerosis is the gradual buildup of cholesterol and fibrous tissue in plaques in the wall of arteries (in this case, the coronary arteries), typically over decades. Blood stream column irregularities visible on angiography reflect artery lumen narrowing as a result of decades of advancing atherosclerosis. Plaques can become unstable, rupture, and additionally promote a thrombus (blood clot) that occludes the artery; this can occur in minutes. When a severe enough plaque rupture occurs in the coronary vasculature, it leads to myocardial infarction (necrosis of downstream myocardium). If impaired blood flow to the heart lasts long enough, it triggers a process called the ischemic cascade; the heart cells in the territory of the occluded coronary artery die (chiefly through necrosis) and do not grow back. A collagen scar forms in its place. Recent studies indicate that another form of cell death called apoptosis also plays a role in the process of tissue damage subsequent to myocardial infarction.[45] As a result, the patient's heart will be permanently damaged. This Myocardial scarring also puts the patient at risk for potentially life threatening arrhythmias, and may result in the formation of a ventricular aneurysm that can rupture with catastrophic consequences. Injured heart tissue conducts electrical impulses more slowly than normal heart tissue. The difference in conduction velocity between injured and uninjured tissue can trigger re-entry or a feedback loop that is believed to be the cause of many lethal arrhythmias. The most serious of these arrhythmias is ventricular fibrillation (V-Fib/VF), an extremely fast and chaotic heart rhythm that is the leading cause of sudden cardiac death. Another life threatening arrhythmia is ventricular tachycardia (V-Tach/VT), which may or may not cause sudden cardiac death. However, ventricular tachycardia usually results in rapid heart rates that prevent the heart from pumping blood effectively. Cardiac output and blood pressure may fall to dangerous levels, which can lead to further coronary ischemia and extension of the infarct. The cardiac defibrillator is a device that was specifically designed to terminate these potentially fatal arrhythmias. The device works by delivering an electrical shock to the patient in order to depolarize a critical mass of the heart muscle, in effect "rebooting" the heart. This therapy is time dependent, and the odds of successful defibrillation decline rapidly after the onset of cardiopulmonary arrest. [edit] Diagnosis The diagnosis of myocardial infarction is made by integrating the history of the presenting illness and physical examination with electrocardiogram findings and cardiac markers (blood tests for heart muscle cell damage).[46] A coronary angiogram allows visualization of narrowings or obstructions on the heart vessels, and therapeutic measures can follow immediately. At autopsy, a pathologist can diagnose a myocardial infarction based on anatomopathological findings. A chest radiograph and routine blood tests may indicate complications or precipitating causes and are often performed upon arrival to an emergency department. New regional wall motion abnormalities on an echocardiogram are also suggestive of a myocardial infarction. Echo may be performed in equivocal cases by the on-call cardiologist.[47] In stable patients whose symptoms have resolved by the time of evaluation, technetium-99m 2-methoxyisobutylisonitrile (Tc99m MIBI) or thallium-201 chloride can be used in nuclear medicine to visualize areas of reduced blood flow in conjunction with physiologic or pharmocologic stress.[47][48] Thallium may also be used to determine viability of tissue, distinguishing whether non-functional myocardium is actually dead or merely in a state of hibernation or of being stunned.[49] [edit] Diagnostic criteria WHO criteria[50] formulated in 1979 have classically been used to diagnose MI; a patient is diagnosed with myocardial infarction if two (probable) or three (definite) of the following criteria are satisfied: 1. Clinical history of ischaemic type chest pain lasting for more than 20 minutes 2. Changes in serial ECG tracings 3. Rise and fall of serum cardiac biomarkers such as creatine kinase-MB fraction and troponin The WHO criteria were refined in 2000 to give more prominence to cardiac biomarkers.[51] According to the new guidelines, a cardiac troponin rise accompanied by either typical symptoms, pathological Q waves, ST elevation or depression or coronary intervention are diagnostic of MI. [edit] Physical examination The general appearance of patients may vary according to the experienced symptoms; the patient may be comfortable, or restless and in severe distress with an increased respiratory rate. A cool and pale skin is common and points to vasoconstriction. Some patients have low-grade fever (38?39 ?C). Blood pressure may be elevated or decreased, and the pulse can be become irregular.[52][53] If heart failure ensues, elevated jugular venous pressure and hepatojugular reflux, or swelling of the legs due to peripheral edema may be found on inspection. Rarely, a cardiac bulge with a pace different from the pulse rhythm can be felt on precordial examination. Various abnormalities can be found on auscultation, such as a third and fourth heart sound, systolic murmurs, paradoxical splitting of the second heart sound, a pericardial friction rub and rales over the lung.[52][54] [edit] Electrocardiogram Main article: Electrocardiogram 12-lead electrocardiogram showing ST-segment elevation (orange) in I, aVL and V1-V5 with reciprocal changes (blue) in the inferior leads, indicative of an anterior wall myocardial infarction. The primary purpose of the electrocardiogram is to detect ischemia or acute coronary injury in broad, symptomatic emergency department populations. However, the standard 12 lead ECG has several limitations. An ECG represents a brief sample in time. Because unstable ischemic syndromes have rapidly changing supply versus demand characteristics, a single ECG may not accurately represent the entire picture.[55] It is therefore desirable to obtain serial 12 lead ECGs, particularly if the first ECG is obtained during a pain-free episode. Alternatively, many emergency departments and chest pain centers use computers capable of continuous ST segment monitoring.[56] The standard 12 lead ECG also does not directly examine the right ventricle, and is relatively poor at examining the posterior basal and lateral walls of the left ventricle. In particular, acute myocardial infarction in the distribution of the circumflex artery is likely to produce a nondiagnostic ECG.[55] The use of additional ECG leads like right-sided leads V3R and V4R and posterior leads V7, V8, and V9 may improve sensitivity for right ventricular and posterior myocardial infarction. In spite of these limitations, the 12 lead ECG stands at the center of risk stratification for the patient with suspected acute myocardial infarction. Mistakes in interpretation are relatively common, and the failure to identify high risk features has a negative effect on the quality of patient care.[57] The 12 lead ECG is used to classify patients into one of three groups:[58] 1. those with ST segment elevation or new bundle branch block (suspicious for acute injury and a possible candidate for acute reperfusion therapy with thrombolytics or primary PCI), 2. those with ST segment depression or T wave inversion (suspicious for ischemia), and 3. those with a so-called non-diagnostic or normal ECG. A normal ECG does not rule out acute myocardial infarction. Sometimes the earliest presentation of acute myocardial infarction is the hyperacute T wave, which is treated the same as ST segment elevation.[59] In practice this is rarely seen, because it only exists for 2?30 minutes after the onset of infarction.[60] Hyperacute T waves need to be distinguished from the peaked T waves associated with hyperkalemia.[61] The current guidelines for the ECG diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction require at least 1 mm (0.1 mV) of ST segment elevation in the limb leads, and at least 2 mm elevation in the precordial leads. These elevations must be present in anatomically contiguous leads.[58] (I, aVL, V5, V6 correspond to the lateral wall; V1-V4 correspond to the anterior wall; II, III, aVF correspond to the inferior wall.) This criterion is problematic, however, as acute myocardial infarction is not the most common cause of ST segment elevation in chest pain patients.[62] Over 90% of healthy men have at least 1 mm (0.1 mV) of ST segment elevation in at least one precordial lead.[63] The clinician must therefore be well versed in recognizing the so-called ECG mimics of acute myocardial infarction, which include left ventricular hypertrophy, left bundle branch block, paced rhythm, early repolarization, pericarditis, hyperkalemia, and ventricular aneurysm.[63][64][65] [edit] Cardiac markers Main article: Cardiac marker Cardiac markers or cardiac enzymes are proteins that leak out of injured myocardial cells through their damaged cell membranes into the bloodstream. Until the 1980s, the enzymes SGOT and LDH were used to assess cardiac injury. Now, the markers most widely used in detection of MI are MB subtype of the enzyme creatine kinase and cardiac troponins T and I as they are more specific for myocardial injury. The cardiac troponins T and I which are released within 4?6 hours of an attack of MI and remain elevated for up to 2 weeks, have nearly complete tissue specificity and are now the preferred markers for asssessing myocardial damage.[66] Elevated troponins in the setting of chest pain may accurately predict a high likelihood of a myocardial infarction in the near future.[67] New markers such as glycogen phosphorylase isoenzyme BB are under investigation.[68] The diagnosis of myocardial infarction requires two out of three components (history, ECG, and enzymes). When damage to the heart occurs, levels of cardiac markers rise over time, which is why blood tests for them are taken over a 24-hour period. Because these enzyme levels are not elevated immediately following a heart attack, patients presenting with chest pain are generally treated with the assumption that a myocardial infarction has occurred and then evaluated for a more precise diagnosis.[69] [edit] Angiography Angiogram of the coronary arteries. Main article: Coronary catheterization In difficult cases or in situations where intervention to restore blood flow is appropriate, coronary angiography can be performed. A catheter is inserted into an artery (usually the femoral artery) and pushed to the vessels supplying the heart. A radio-opaque dye is administered through the catheter and a sequence of x-rays (fluoroscopy) is performed. Obstructed or narrowed arteries can be identified, and angioplasty applied as a therapeutic measure (see below). Angioplasty requires extensive skill, especially in emergency settings. It is performed by a physician trained in interventional cardiology. [edit] Histopathology Further information: Timeline of myocardial infarction pathology Microscopy image (magn. ca 100x, H&E stain) from autopsy specimen of myocardial infarct (7 days post-infarction). Histopathological examination of the heart may reveal infarction at autopsy. Under the microscope, myocardial infarction presents as a circumscribed area of ischemic, coagulative necrosis (cell death). On gross examination, the infarct is not identifiable within the first 12 hours.[70] Micrograph of a myocardial infarction (ca. 400x H&E stain ) with prominent contraction band necrosis. Although earlier changes can be discerned using electron microscopy, one of the earliest changes under a normal microscope are so-called wavy fibers.[71] Subsequently, the myocyte cytoplasm becomes more eosinophilic (pink) and the cells lose their transversal striations, with typical changes and eventually loss of the cell nucleus.[72] The interstitium at the margin of the infarcted area is initially infiltrated with neutrophils, then with lymphocytes and macrophages, who phagocytose ("eat") the myocyte debris. The necrotic area is surrounded and progressively invaded by granulation tissue, which will replace the infarct with a fibrous (collagenous) scar (which are typical steps in wound healing). The interstitial space (the space between cells outside of blood vessels) may be infiltrated with red blood cells.[70] These features can be recognized in cases where the perfusion was not restored; reperfused infarcts can have other hallmarks, such as contraction band necrosis.[73] [edit] Prevention The risk of a recurrent myocardial infarction decreases with strict blood pressure management and lifestyle changes, chiefly smoking cessation, regular exercise, a sensible diet for patients with heart disease, and limitation of alcohol intake. Patients are usually commenced on several long-term medications post-MI, with the aim of preventing secondary cardiovascular events such as further myocardial infarctions, congestive heart failure or cerebrovascular accident (CVA). Unless contraindicated, such medications may include:[74][75] * Antiplatelet drug therapy such as aspirin and/or clopidogrel should be continued to reduce the risk of plaque rupture and recurrent myocardial infarction. Aspirin is first-line, owing to its low cost and comparable efficacy, with clopidogrel reserved for patients intolerant of aspirin. The combination of clopidogrel and aspirin may further reduce risk of cardiovascular events, however the risk of hemorrhage is increased.[76] * Beta blocker therapy such as metoprolol or carvedilol should be commenced.[77] These have been particularly beneficial in high-risk patients such as those with left ventricular dysfunction and/or continuing cardiac ischaemia.[78] ?-Blockers decrease mortality and morbidity. They also improve symptoms of cardiac ischemia in NSTEMI. * ACE inhibitor therapy should be commenced 24?48 hours post-MI in hemodynamically-stable patients, particularly in patients with a history of MI, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, anterior location of infarct (as assessed by ECG), and/or evidence of left ventricular dysfunction. ACE inhibitors reduce mortality, the development of heart failure, and decrease ventricular remodelling post-MI.[79] * Statin therapy has been shown to reduce mortality and morbidity post-MI.[80][81] The effects of statins may be more than their LDL lowering effects. The general consensus is that statins have plaque stabilization and multiple other ("pleiotropic") effects that may prevent myocardial infarction in addition to their effects on blood lipids.[82] * The aldosterone antagonist agent eplerenone has been shown to further reduce risk of cardiovascular death post-MI in patients with heart failure and left ventricular dysfunction, when used in conjunction with standard therapies above.[83] * Omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish, have been shown to reduce mortality post-MI.[84] While the mechanism by which these fatty acids decrease mortality is unknown, it has been postulated that the survival benefit is due to electrical stabilization and the prevention of ventricular fibrillation.[85] However, further studies in a high-risk subset have not shown a clear-cut decrease in potentially fatal arrhythmias due to omega-3 fatty acids.[86][87] [edit] Management A heart attack is a medical emergency which demands both immediate attention and activation of the emergency medical services. The ultimate goal of the management in the acute phase of the disease is to salvage as much myocardium as possible and prevent further complications. As time passes, the risk of damage to the heart muscle increases; hence the phrase that in myocardial infarction, "time is muscle," and "time wasted is muscle lost".[88] Oxygen, aspirin, glyceryl trinitrate (nitroglycerin) and analgesia are usually administered as soon as possible. In many areas, first responders are trained to administer these prior to arrival at the hospital. Morphine is classically used if nitroglycerin is not effective due to its ability to dilate blood vessels, which may aid in blood flow to the heart as well as relieve pain. Morphine may also cause hypotension (usually in the setting of hypovolemia), and should be avoided in the case of right ventricular infarction. Moreover, the CRUSADE trial demonstrated an increase in mortality with administering morphine in the setting of NSTEMI.[89] A 2009 review of high flow oxygen in myocardial infarction found increased mortality and infarct size, calling into question the recommendation about its routine use.[90] Of the front line agents, aspirin and streptokinase have been shown to markedly reduce mortality.[91] Streptokinase activates plasminogen, which is fibrinolytic (see section on thrombolysis below). Once the diagnosis of myocardial infarction is confirmed, other pharmacologic agents are often given. These include beta blockers,[92][93] anticoagulation (typically with heparin),[94] and possibly additional antiplatelet agents such as clopidogrel.[94] While these agents can decrease mortality in the setting of an acute myocardial infarction, they can lead to complications and potentially death if used in the wrong setting.[citation needed] Cocaine associated myocardial infarction should be managed in a manner similar to other patients with acute coronary syndrome except beta blockers should not be used and benzodiazepines should be administered early.[95] The treatment itself may have complications. If attempts to restore the blood flow are initiated after a critical period of only a few hours, the result may be a reperfusion injury instead of amelioration.[96] [edit] First aid As myocardial infarction is a common medical emergency, the signs are often part of first aid courses. The emergency action principles also apply in the case of myocardial infarction. When symptoms of myocardial infarction occur, people wait an average of three hours, instead of doing what is recommended: calling for help immediately.[97][98] Acting immediately by calling the emergency services can save your life for two reasons. First and most importantly, the emergency services can immedialetely save your life from primary ventricular fibrillation which occurs unexpectedly in more than 10% of all infarction especially during the first hour of symptoms and second, immediate treatment of myocardial infarction can prevent sustained damage to the heart ("time is muscle").[88] Certain positions allow the patient to rest in a position which minimizes breathing difficulties. A half-sitting position with knees bent is often recommended. Access to more oxygen can be given by opening the window and widening the collar for easier breathing. Aspirin can be given quickly (if the patient is not allergic to aspirin); but taking aspirin before calling the emergency medical services may be associated with unwanted delay.[99] Aspirin has an antiplatelet effect which inhibits formation of further thrombi (blood clots) that clog arteries. Chewing is the preferred method of administration, so that the Aspirin can be absorbed quickly. Dissolved soluble preparations or sublingual administration can also be used. U.S. guidelines recommend a dose of 162?325 mg.[94] Australian guidelines recommend a dose of 150?300 mg.[74] Glyceryl trinitrate (nitroglycerin) sublingually (under the tongue) can be given if available. If an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available the rescuer should immediately bring the AED to the patient's side and be prepared to follow its instructions, especially should the victim lose consciousness. If possible the rescuer should obtain basic information from the victim, in case the patient is unable to answer questions once emergency medical technicians arrive. The victim's name and any information regarding the nature of the victim's pain will be useful to health care providers. The exact time that these symptoms started may be critical for determining what interventions can be safely attempted once the victim reaches the medical center. Other useful pieces of information include what the patient was doing at the onset of symptoms, and anything else that might give clues to the pathology of the chest pain. It is also very important to relay any actions that have been taken, such as the number or dose of aspirin or nitroglycerin given, to the EMS personnel. Other general first aid principles include monitoring pulse, breathing, level of consciousness and, if possible, the blood pressure of the patient. In case of cardiac arrest, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can be administered. [edit] Automatic external defibrillation (AED) Since the publication of data showing that the availability of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in public places may significantly increase chances of survival, many of these have been installed in public buildings, public transport facilities, and in non-ambulance emergency vehicles (e.g. police cars and fire engines). AEDs analyze the heart's rhythm and determine whether the rhythm is amenable to defibrillation ("shockable"), as in ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation. [edit] Emergency services Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems vary considerably in their ability to evaluate and treat patients with suspected acute myocardial infarction. Some provide as little as first aid and early defibrillation. Others employ highly trained paramedics with sophisticated technology and advanced protocols.[100] Early access to EMS is promoted by a 9-1-1 system currently available to 90% of the population in the United States.[100] Most are capable of providing oxygen, IV access, sublingual nitroglycerine, morphine, and aspirin. Some are capable of providing thrombolytic therapy in the prehospital setting.[101][102] With primary PCI emerging as the preferred therapy for ST segment elevation myocardial infarction, EMS can play a key role in reducing door to balloon intervals (the time from presentation to a hospital ER to the restoration of coronary artery blood flow) by performing a 12 lead ECG in the field and using this information to triage the patient to the most appropriate medical facility.[103][104][105][106] In addition, the 12 lead ECG can be transmitted to the receiving hospital, which enables time saving decisions to be made prior to the patient's arrival. This may include a "cardiac alert" or "STEMI alert" that calls in off duty personnel in areas where the cardiac cath lab is not staffed 24 hours a day.[107] Even in the absence of a formal alerting program, prehospital 12 lead ECGs are independently associated with reduced door to treatment intervals in the emergency department.[108] [edit] Reperfusion The concept of reperfusion has become so central to the modern treatment of acute myocardial infarction, that we are said to be in the reperfusion era.[109][110] Patients who present with suspected acute myocardial infarction and ST segment elevation (STEMI) or new bundle branch block on the 12 lead ECG are presumed to have an occlusive thrombosis in an epicardial coronary artery. They are therefore candidates for immediate reperfusion, either with thrombolytic therapy, percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) or when these therapies are unsuccessful, bypass surgery. Individuals without ST segment elevation are presumed to be experiencing either unstable angina (UA) or non-ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI). They receive many of the same initial therapies and are often stabilized with antiplatelet drugs and anticoagulated. If their condition remains (hemodynamically) stable, they can be offered either late coronary angiography with subsequent restoration of blood flow (revascularization), or non-invasive stress testing to determine if there is significant ischemia that would benefit from revascularization. If hemodynamic instability develops in individuals with NSTEMIs, they may undergo urgent coronary angiography and subsequent revascularization. The use of thrombolytic agents is contraindicated in this patient subset, however.[111] The basis for this distinction in treatment regimens is that ST segment elevations on an ECG are typically due to complete occlusion of a coronary artery. On the other hand, in NSTEMIs there is typically a sudden narrowing of a coronary artery with preserved (but diminished) flow to the distal myocardium. Anticoagulation and antiplatelet agents are given to prevent the narrowed artery from occluding. At least 10% of patients with STEMI don't develop myocardial necrosis (as evidenced by a rise in cardiac markers) and subsequent Q waves on EKG after reperfusion therapy. Such a successful restoration of flow to the infarct-related artery during an acute myocardial infarction is known as "aborting" the myocardial infarction. If treated within the hour, about 25% of STEMIs can be aborted.[112] [edit] Thrombolytic therapy Main article: Thrombolysis Thrombolytic therapy is indicated for the treatment of STEMI if the drug can be administered within 12 hours of the onset of symptoms, the patient is eligible based on exclusion criteria, and primary PCI is not immediately available.[94] The effectiveness of thrombolytic therapy is highest in the first 2 hours. After 12 hours, the risk associated with thrombolytic therapy outweighs any benefit.[111][113] Because irreversible injury occurs within 2?4 hours of the infarction, there is a limited window of time available for reperfusion to work. Thrombolytic drugs are contraindicated for the treatment of unstable angina and NSTEMI[111][114] and for the treatment of individuals with evidence of cardiogenic shock.[115] Although no perfect thrombolytic agent exists, an ideal thrombolytic drug would lead to rapid reperfusion, have a high sustained patency rate, be specific for recent thrombi, be easily and rapidly administered, create a low risk for intra-cerebral and systemic bleeding, have no antigenicity, adverse hemodynamic effects, or clinically significant drug interactions, and be cost effective.[116] Currently available thrombolytic agents include streptokinase, urokinase, and alteplase (recombinant tissue plasminogen activator, rtPA). More recently, thrombolytic agents similar in structure to rtPA such as reteplase and tenecteplase have been used. These newer agents boast efficacy at least as good as rtPA with significantly easier administration. The thrombolytic agent used in a particular individual is based on institution preference and the age of the patient. Depending on the thrombolytic agent being used, adjuvant anticoagulation with heparin or low molecular weight heparin may be of benefit.[117][118] With TPa and related agents (reteplase and tenecteplase), heparin is needed to maintain coronary artery patency. Because of the anticoagulant effect of fibrinogen depletion with streptokinase[119] and urokinase[120][121][122] treatment, it is less necessary there.[117] Intracranial bleeding (ICB) and subsequent cerebrovascular accident (CVA) is a serious side effect of thrombolytic use. The risk of ICB is dependent on a number of factors, including a previous episode of intracranial bleed, age of the individual, and the thrombolytic regimen that is being used. In general, the risk of ICB due to thrombolytic use for the treatment of an acute myocardial infarction is between 0.5 and 1 percent.[117] Thrombolytic therapy to abort a myocardial infarction is not always effective. The degree of effectiveness of a thrombolytic agent is dependent on the time since the myocardial infarction began, with the best results occurring if the thrombolytic agent is used within two hours of the onset of symptoms.[102][123] If the individual presents more than 12 hours after symptoms commenced, the risk of intracranial bleed are considered higher than the benefits of the thrombolytic agent.[124] Failure rates of thrombolytics can be as high as 20% or higher.[125] In cases of failure of the thrombolytic agent to open the infarct-related coronary artery, the patient is then either treated conservatively with anticoagulants and allowed to "complete the infarction" or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI, see below) is then performed. Percutaneous coronary intervention in this setting is known as "rescue PCI" or "salvage PCI". Complications, particularly bleeding, are significantly higher with rescue PCI than with primary PCI due to the action of the thrombolytic agent. [edit] Percutaneous coronary intervention Main article: Percutaneous coronary intervention Thrombus material (in a cup, upper left corner) removed from a coronary artery during a percutaneous coronary intervention to abort a myocardial infarction. Five pieces of thrombus are shown (arrow heads). The benefit of prompt, expertly performed primary percutaneous coronary intervention over thrombolytic therapy for acute ST elevation myocardial infarction is now well established.[126][127][128] When performed rapidly by an experienced team, primary PCI restores flow in the culprit artery in more than 95% of patients compared with the spontaneous recanalization rate of about 65%.[126] Logistic and economic obstacles seem to hinder a more widespread application of percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) via cardiac catheterization,[129] although the feasibility of regionalized PCI for STEMI is currently being explored in the United States.[130] The use of percutaneous coronary intervention as a therapy to abort a myocardial infarction is known as primary PCI. The goal of primary PCI is to open the artery as soon as possible, and preferably within 90 minutes of the patient presenting to the emergency room. This time is referred to as the door-to-balloon time. Few hospitals can provide PCI within the 90 minute interval,[131] which prompted the American College of Cardiology (ACC) to launch a national Door to Balloon (D2B) Initiative in November 2006. Over 800 hospitals have joined the D2B Alliance as of March 16, 2007.[132] One particularly successful implementation of a primary PCI protocol is in the Calgary Health Region under the auspices of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta. Under this model, EMS teams responding to an emergency electronically transmit the ECG directly to a digital archiving system that allows emergency room physicians and/or cardiologists to immediately confirm the diagnosis. This in turn allows for redirection of the EMS teams to facilities prepped to conduct time-critical angioplasty, based on the ECG analysis. In an article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in June 2007, the Calgary implementation resulted in a median time to treatment of 62 minutes.[133] The current guidelines in the United States restrict primary PCI to hospitals with available emergency bypass surgery as a backup,[94] but this is not the case in other parts of the world.[134] Primary PCI involves performing a coronary angiogram to determine the anatomical location of the infarcting vessel, followed by balloon angioplasty (and frequently deployment of an intracoronary stent) of the thrombosed arterial segment. In some settings, an extraction catheter may be used to attempt to aspirate (remove) the thrombus prior to balloon angioplasty. While the use of intracoronary stents do not improve the short term outcomes in primary PCI, the use of stents is widespread because of the decreased rates of procedures to treat restenosis compared to balloon angioplasty.[135] Adjuvant therapy during primary PCI includes intravenous heparin, aspirin, and clopidogrel. Glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors are often used in the setting of primary PCI to reduce the risk of ischemic complications during the procedure.[136][137] Due to the number of antiplatelet agents and anticoagulants used during primary PCI, the risk of bleeding associated with the procedure is higher than during an elective PCI.[138] [edit] Coronary artery bypass surgery Main article: Coronary artery bypass graft surgery Coronary artery bypass surgery during mobilization (freeing) of the right coronary artery from its surrounding tissue, adipose tissue (yellow). The tube visible at the bottom is the aortic cannula (returns blood from the HLM). The tube above it (obscured by the surgeon on the right) is the venous cannula (receives blood from the body). The patient's heart is stopped and the aorta is cross-clamped. The patient's head (not seen) is at the bottom. Despite the guidelines, emergency bypass surgery for the treatment of an acute myocardial infarction (MI) is less common than PCI or medical management. In an analysis of patients in the U.S. National Registry of Myocardial Infarction (NRMI) from January 1995 to May 2004, the percentage of patients with cardiogenic shock treated with primary PCI rose from 27.4% to 54.4%, while the increase in CABG treatment was only from 2.1% to 3.2%.[139] Emergency coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) is usually undertaken to simultaneously treat a mechanical complication, such as a ruptured papillary muscle, or a ventricular septal defect, with ensueing cardiogenic shock.[140] In uncomplicated MI, the mortality rate can be high when the surgery is performed immediately following the infarction.[141] If this option is entertained, the patient should be stabilized prior to surgery, with supportive interventions such as the use of an intra-aortic balloon pump.[142] In patients developing cardiogenic shock after a myocardial infarction, both PCI and CABG are satisfactory treatment options, with similar survival rates.[143][144] Coronary artery bypass surgery involves an artery or vein from the patient being implanted to bypass narrowings or occlusions on the coronary arteries. Several arteries and veins can be used, however internal mammary artery grafts have demonstrated significantly better long-term patency rates than great saphenous vein grafts.[145] In patients with two or more coronary arteries affected, bypass surgery is associated with higher long-term survival rates compared to percutaneous interventions.[146] In patients with single vessel disease, surgery is comparably safe and effective, and may be a treatment option in selected cases.[147] Bypass surgery has higher costs initially, but becomes cost-effective in the long term.[148] A surgical bypass graft is more invasive initially but bears less risk of recurrent procedures (but these may be again minimally invasive).[147] [edit] Monitoring for arrhythmias Additional objectives are to prevent life-threatening arrhythmias or conduction disturbances. This requires monitoring in a coronary care unit and protocolised administration of antiarrhythmic agents. Antiarrhythmic agents are typically only given to individuals with life-threatening arrhythmias after a myocardial infarction and not to suppress the ventricular ectopy that is often seen after a myocardial infarction.[149][150][151] [edit] Austere environments Wilderness first aid In wilderness first aid, a possible heart attack justifies evacuation by the fastest available means, including MEDEVAC, even in the earliest or precursor stages. The patient will rapidly be incapable of further exertion and have to be carried out. Air travel Certified personnel traveling by commercial aircraft may be able to assist an MI patient by using the on-board first aid kit, which may contain some cardiac drugs (such as glyceryl trinitrate spray, aspirin, or opioid painkillers), an AED,[152] and oxygen. Pilots may divert the flight to land at a nearby airport. Cardiac monitors are being introduced by some airlines, and they can be used by both on-board and ground-based physicians.[153] [edit] Rehabilitation Cardiac rehabilitation aims to optimize function and quality of life in those afflicted with a heart disease. This can be with the help of a physician, or in the form of a cardiac rehabilitation program.[154] Physical exercise is an important part of rehabilitation after a myocardial infarction, with beneficial effects on cholesterol levels, blood pressure, weight, stress and mood.[154] Some patients become afraid of exercising because it might trigger another infarct.[155] Patients are stimulated to exercise, and should only avoid certain exerting activities. Local authorities may place limitations on driving motorised vehicles.[156] Some people are afraid to have sex after a heart attack. Most people can resume sexual activities after 3 to 4 weeks. The amount of activity needs to be dosed to the patient's possibilities.[157] [edit] New therapies under investigation Patients who receive stem cell treatment by coronary artery injections of stem cells derived from their own bone marrow after a myocardial infarction (MI) show improvements in left ventricular ejection fraction and end-diastolic volume not seen with placebo. The larger the initial infarct size, the greater the effect of the infusion. Clinical trials of progenitor cell infusion as a treatment approach to ST elevation MI are proceeding.[158] There are currently 3 biomaterial and tissue engineering approaches for the treatment of MI, but these are in an even earlier stage of medical research, so many questions and issues need to be addressed before they can be applied to patients. The first involves polymeric left ventricular restraints in the prevention of heart failure. The second utilizes in vitro engineered cardiac tissue, which is subsequently implanted in vivo. The final approach entails injecting cells and/or a scaffold into the myocardium to create in situ engineered cardiac tissue.[159] [edit] Complications Complications may occur immediately following the heart attack (in the acute phase), or may need time to develop (a chronic problem). After an infarction, an obvious complication is a second infarction, which may occur in the domain of another atherosclerotic coronary artery, or in the same zone if there are any live cells left in the infarct. [edit] Congestive heart failure Main article: Congestive heart failure A myocardial infarction may compromise the function of the heart as a pump for the circulation, a state called heart failure. There are different types of heart failure; left- or right-sided (or bilateral) heart failure may occur depending on the affected part of the heart, and it is a low-output type of failure. If one of the heart valves is affected, this may cause dysfunction, such as mitral regurgitation in the case of left-sided coronary occlusion that disrupts the blood supply of the papillary muscles. The incidence of heart failure is particularly high in patients with diabetes and requires special management strategies.[160] [edit] Myocardial rupture Main article: Myocardial rupture Myocardial rupture is most common three to five days after myocardial infarction, commonly of small degree, but may occur one day to three weeks later. In the modern era of early revascularization and intensive pharmacotherapy as treatment for MI, the incidence of myocardial rupture is about 1% of all MIs.[161] This may occur in the free walls of the ventricles, the septum between them, the papillary muscles, or less commonly the atria. Rupture occurs because of increased pressure against the weakened walls of the heart chambers due to heart muscle that cannot pump blood out effectively. The weakness may also lead to ventricular aneurysm, a localized dilation or ballooning of the heart chamber. Risk factors for myocardial rupture include completion of infarction (no revascularization performed), female sex, advanced age, and a lack of a previous history of myocardial infarction.[161] In addition, the risk of rupture is higher in individuals who are revascularized with a thrombolytic agent than with PCI.[162][163] The shear stress between the infarcted segment and the surrounding normal myocardium (which may be hypercontractile in the post-infarction period) makes it a nidus for rupture.[164] Rupture is usually a catastrophic event that may result a life-threatening process known as cardiac tamponade, in which blood accumulates within the pericardium or heart sac, and compresses the heart to the point where it cannot pump effectively. Rupture of the intraventricular septum (the muscle separating the left and right ventricles) causes a ventricular septal defect with shunting of blood through the defect from the left side of the heart to the right side of the heart, which can lead to right ventricular failure as well as pulmonary overcirculation. Rupture of the papillary muscle may also lead to acute mitral regurgitation and subsequent pulmonary edema and possibly even cardiogenic shock. [edit] Life-threatening arrhythmia A 12 lead electrocardiogram showing ventricular tachycardia. Since the electrical characteristics of the infarcted tissue change (see pathophysiology section), arrhythmias are a frequent complication.[165] The re-entry phenomenon may cause rapid heart rates (ventricular tachycardia and even ventricular fibrillation), and ischemia in the electrical conduction system of the heart may cause a complete heart block (when the impulse from the sinoatrial node, the normal cardiac pacemaker, does not reach the heart chambers).[166][167] [edit] Pericarditis Main article: Pericarditis As a reaction to the damage of the heart muscle, inflammatory cells are attracted. The inflammation may reach out and affect the heart sac. This is called pericarditis. In Dressler's syndrome, this occurs several weeks after the initial event. [edit] Cardiogenic shock A complication that may occur in the acute setting soon after a myocardial infarction or in the weeks following it is cardiogenic shock. Cardiogenic shock is defined as a hemodynamic state in which the heart cannot produce enough of a cardiac output to supply an adequate amount of oxygenated blood to the tissues of the body. While the data on performing interventions on individuals with cardiogenic shock is sparse, trial data suggests a long-term mortality benefit in undergoing revascularization if the individual is less than 75 years old and if the onset of the acute myocardial infarction is less than 36 hours and the onset of cardiogenic shock is less than 18 hours.[115] If the patient with cardiogenic shock is not going to be revascularized, aggressive hemodynamic support is warranted, with insertion of an intra-aortic balloon pump if not contraindicated.[115] If diagnostic coronary angiography does not reveal a culprit blockage that is the cause of the cardiogenic shock, the prognosis is poor.[115] [edit] Prognosis The prognosis for patients with myocardial infarction varies greatly, depending on the patient, the condition itself and the given treatment. Using simple variables which are immediately available in the emergency room, patients with a higher risk of adverse outcome can be identified. For example, one study found that 0.4% of patients with a low risk profile had died after 90 days, whereas the mortality rate in high risk patients was 21.1%.[168] For the period 2005 - 2008 in the United States the median mortality at 30 days was 16.6% with a range from 10.9% to 24.9% depending on the hospital which one looks at.[169] Although studies differ in the identified variables, some of the more reproduced risk stratifiers include age, hemodynamic parameters (such as heart failure, cardiac arrest on admission, systolic blood pressure, or Killip class of two or greater), ST-segment deviation, diabetes, serum creatinine concentration, peripheral vascular disease and elevation of cardiac markers.[168][170][171] Assessment of left ventricular ejection fraction may increase the predictive power of some risk stratification models.[172] The prognostic importance of Q-waves is debated.[173] Prognosis is significantly worsened if a mechanical complication (papillary muscle rupture, myocardial free wall rupture, and so on) were to occur.[162] There is evidence that case fatality of myocardial infarction has been improving over the years in all ethnicities.[174] [edit] Epidemiology Myocardial infarction is a common presentation of ischemic heart disease. The WHO estimated that in 2002, 12.6 percent of deaths worldwide were from ischemic heart disease.[2] Ischemic heart disease is the leading cause of death in developed countries, but third to AIDS and lower respiratory infections in developing countries.[175] In the United States, diseases of the heart are the leading cause of death, causing a higher mortality than cancer (malignant neoplasms).[176] Coronary heart disease is responsible for 1 in 5 deaths in the U.S.. Some 7,200,000 men and 6,000,000 women are living with some form of coronary heart disease. 1,200,000 people suffer a (new or recurrent) coronary attack every year, and about 40% of them die as a result of the attack.[177] This means that roughly every 65 seconds, an American dies of a coronary event. In India, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death.[178] The deaths due to CVD in India were 32% of all deaths in 2007 and are expected to rise from 1.17 million in 1990 and 1.59 million in 2000 to 2.03 million in 2010.[179] Although a relatively new epidemic in India, it has quickly become a major health issue with deaths due to CVD expected to double during 1985-2015.[180][181] Mortality estimates due to CVD vary widely by state, ranging from 10% in Meghalaya to 49% in Punjab (percentage of all deaths). Punjab (49%), Goa (42%), Tamil Nadu (36%) and Andhra Pradesh (31%) have the highest CVD related mortality estimates.[182] State-wise differences are correlated with prevalence of specific dietary risk factors in the states. Moderate physical exercise is associated with reduced incidence of CVD in India (those who exercise have less than half the risk of those who don't).[180] CVD also affects Indians at a younger age (in their 30s and 40s) than is typical in other countries. [edit] Legal implications At common law, a myocardial infarction is generally a disease, but may sometimes be an injury. This has implications for no-fault insurance schemes such as workers' compensation. A heart attack is generally not covered;[183] however, it may be a work-related injury if it results, for example, from unusual emotional stress or unusual exertion.[184] Additionally, in some jurisdictions, heart attacks suffered by persons in particular occupations such as police officers may be classified as line-of-duty injuries by statute or policy. 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By making connections with local agents through our network, we can offer: * Established agent connections in all 50 states * Free quotes and affordable rates that help slash premiums * Help locating the right policies at the right price?without sacrificing coverage Meeting customers' needs is our number one priority. With the help of our shopping service that offers quotes on home insurance, car insurance, life insurance, health insurance and long term care insurance, consumers can find and purchase the policies they need?all in one place. Now that's service and convenience! Whether looking for home insurance when purchasing a new home, car insurance to cover an old car, health insurance as the family grows, life insurance for an empty-nester or long term care insurance as parents age, our service is free of charge. There's no better way to protect loved ones and treasured possessions, like cars, homes?and especially life and health! Helping You Choose Wisely Not sure which types of life insurance or long term care insurance are needed? Or maybe that home or health insurance policy is about to expire. Come along with InsureMe, get some basic information on health insurance, home insurance, car insurance, life insurance and long term care insurance?and find out now! Quick Reference Guide Car Insurance When auto accidents occur, car insurance funds the necessary repairs?and pays medical expense if someone gets hurt. Depending on the coverage chosen, a car insurance policy may apply only to the damage sustained by another driver or car, or may also cover insured drivers and their vehicles. Without car insurance, drivers risk fines, ticketing and even jail, depending on the circumstances. Check with each state to find out which car insurance coverage types are required and the amounts mandated. Practicing defensive driving and buying a safer car will help keep car insurance costs down. Health Insurance Covering costs such as hospital bills, emergency room fees, doctor visits and prescription drug costs, health insurance allows the policyholder to seek medical help when needed and get supplemented by the carrier for the cost of treatment. Though by no means required, studies reveal that those who carry health insurance remain healthier than those who don't. Due to the rising cost of medical care today, health insurance has become a necessity for staying healthy and strong. Health insurance quotes help keep costs competitive. Home Insurance Home insurance is required for every home purchase, whether new construction or old. Home insurance protects homeowners from damage, theft and suit as a result of natural disaster, vandalism or unforeseen accidents, and provides reimbursement if and when any of these events occur. Covering both the home and property inside, home insurance helps ensure long term financial viability and prevent home loan default. Life Insurance When a family member passes away, loved ones are often blindsided. In the midst of emotional turmoil, life insurance offers the resources needed to pay off mortgages or other bills, go back to school, take care of children, cover final expenses or relocate. Sometimes offered through employers' benefit plans, most people don't know how much life insurance coverage they actually need?and many end up underinsured as a result. Making this purchase at a young age helps minimize cost, while protecting those left behind. Long Term Care Insurance Growing old is never easy. And when we find ourselves or a family member needing help with daily activities, long-term care coverage provides the money necessary to hire professional help. By paying for in-home nursing care, adult day care or resident nursing home care, long term care insurance assists loved ones as they age so families aren't burdened unnecessarily. As life spans lengthen, having long term care insurance in loved ones' financial portfolios becomes more important than ever before. Renters Insurance When items get damaged or ruined, renters insurance pays to repair or replace them in exchange for yearly premiums. While the landlord?s insurance policy covers damage to structures like apartment buildings and condos, renters insurance protects personal possessions like clothing, electronics and furniture. Depending on the landlord?s insurance policy, it often covers items like lighting, appliances and interior walls as well. If someone gets injured on the property, renters insurance releases them from financial strain and liability by paying medical bills and court costs. Getting You Insured Now that you're well informed, it's time to take action! Whether looking to protect loved ones with car insurance, life insurance or health insurance; or secure and guard that new abode with home insurance, InsureMe can help! Apply today for free car insurance, life insurance, home insurance, health insurance or long term care insurance quotes. Top agents will compete for your business, offering the most competitive quotes in your area. All you do is choose the coverage that's right for you?and walk away with unmatched protection right from your own home. Don't wait. Let InsureMe find you the right car insurance, home insurance, health insurance, life insurance or long term care insurance?today! Cheap Auto Insurance Rates? Cheaper Auto Insurance Quotes? The Cheapest Auto Insurance Rate? It's a fact: Only by shopping around and comparing auto insurance quotes, will you find the cheapest auto insurance quote available. However, make sure that you compare each insurer's features, policy coverage information, as well as price to get the best auto insurance policy for your needs. Remember: While cheap auto insurance rates are exciting, the cheapest auto insurance quote may not ultimately be your best bet. After all, insurance has to work for you when you need it most. In association with numerous companies, Kanetix works tirelessly to provide one of the best free online services for individuals wanting to compare auto insurance quotes, home insurance quotes, life insurance quotes, health insurance quotes, motorcycle insurance quotes and more. Our single minded obsession is to help our users save Time & MONEY, and deliver on the promise of affordable and low cost insurance plans for consumers across the USA. We hope that you benefit from the added value that we bring and that you come back again and again whenever you need quotes for quality personal insurance products. Serving: California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey, Virginia, Washington, Massachusetts, Indiana, Arizona, Tennessee, Missouri, Maryland, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado, Alabama, South Carolina, Louisiana, Kentucky, Oregon, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Iowa, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, West Virginia, Nebraska, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont, the District of Columbia and Wyoming. ***Certain conditions apply. The Importance of Matching Your Will to Your Whole Life Insurance When setting up all the things you need to get your life in order for your later years, you will want to think about making your will and your life insurance match so that there will be no confusion as to who should get what upon the unfortunate event of your death. There is some possibility for problems to arise if your will and your life insurance policy don?t directly reference one another. The definition of a will means that you can leave certain things to certain people. But a life insurance policy may or may not include the same names. Here is a brief guide to understanding why it is important to make sure that your whole life insurance and your will match. The Will Your will is a legal, binding document that allows you to bequeath your property and money to individuals that you specify. A person?s will often designates one person or family to take over all of the assets of a person?s estate. This is powerful in that it can guarantee that assets stay within a family or go to whomever you have chosen, but it doesn?t necessarily account for all assets. Life insurance beneficiaries may or may not be recognized in a will. While a will is meant to be a definitive legal document for the end of your life, your life insurance policy could contradict it. Unless you understand the importance of matching your will to your whole life insurance, your family could be left with a difficult interpretation to deal with. The Life Insurance Policy Your life insurance policy is a legal contract that guarantees the beneficiary a certain amount of predetermined money when you pass on. You name your beneficiary when you initiate the whole life insurance policy, and the name on the contract is the name that will be paid. But the insurance policy is not automatically tied to your will. The person named as the recipient of your assets in your will might not be the person you assigned as the beneficiary to your life insurance. Avoid this problem now that you know the importance of matching your will to your whole life insurance policy. Designating the Beneficiary of Your Life Insurance in Your Will Under the counsel of a lawyer or a judge, you will want to make sure that your will reflects your specific wishes in regards to the money to be paid from your whole life insurance policy. It is really just a matter of making sure that the legal terminology exists in your will to allow for an easy payment of your life insurance to the person you want as the beneficiary. Avoid giving your family the headache of deciphering a will and a life insurance policy that don?t match. Advantages and Disadvantages with a Group Insurance Plan Group insurance is designed so that employers, unions, and other organizations can get widespread coverage for their members at a reasonable cost. Instead of getting individual coverage for each person in a company or organization, insurance companies offer group plans for the entire group that overall tend to be less expensive. Who Does It Cover? Overall, group insurance plans cover those in the group with the same benefits. With major insurance plans, the individuals generally get membership through payroll deductions from their work. Still, additional benefits are available to buy into. Family members are usually covered under the group, but the deductions will be higher. Advantages to a Group Insurance Plan What?s nice about a group insurance plan is that because you are essentially buying ?in bulk? you can get a much cheaper rate than you might be able to get with an individual plan. You are also part of a group that has more bargaining power when negotiating with the insurance company. If you have an individual insurance plan, you are pretty much on your own when it comes to any questions, claims or disputes you may have. Also, to try to extend your protection to your family will probably cost additional premium money under an individual plan, whereas this protection is often covered under your group policy. Disadvantages to a Group Insurance Plan The problem with the group insurance plan is in some ways the same as the advantage; being part of a group. If you are in a better position to negotiate with the insurance company for better rates or better coverage, you may want to be considered a separate entity to the insurance company. If you are part of the group, you can only get the best rates and contract that the group gets. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link. In addition, with a group plan there may be more restrictions on the doctors you can see or the drugs you can get under the plan. With an individual plan, there will often be more flexibility in these matters. Home / Insurance And Mortgage UK Mortgage and Insurance Download Movies and Songs for free Resource for the latest information of UK Mortgage and Insurance. Continue for the latest and detailed information of UK Mortgage and Insurance. 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Insurance is defined as the equitable transfer of the risk of a loss, from one entity to another, in exchange for a premium, and can be thought of as a guaranteed and known small loss to prevent a large, possibly devastating loss. An insurer is a company selling the insurance; an insured or policyholder is the person or entity buying the insurance. The insurance rate is a factor used to determine the amount to be charged for a certain amount of insurance coverage, called the premium. Risk management, the practice of appraising and controlling risk, has evolved as a discrete field of study and practice. 1. A large number of homogeneous exposure units. The vast majority of insurance policies are provided for individual members of very large classes. Automobile insurance, for example, covered about 175 million automobiles in the United States in 2004.[2] The existence of a large number of homogeneous exposure units allows insurers to benefit from the so-called ?law of large numbers,? which in effect states that as the number of exposure units increases, the actual results are increasingly likely to become close to expected results. There are exceptions to this criterion. Lloyd's of London is famous for insuring the life or health of actors, actresses and sports figures. Satellite Launch insurance covers events that are infrequent. Large commercial property policies may insure exceptional properties for which there are no ?homogeneous? exposure units. Despite failing on this criterion, many exposures like these are generally considered to be insurable. 2. Definite Loss. The event that gives rise to the loss that is subject to the insured, at least in principle, take place at a known time, in a known place, and from a known cause. The classic example is death of an insured person on a life insurance policy. Fire, automobile accidents, and worker injuries may all easily meet this criterion. Other types of losses may only be definite in theory. Occupational disease, for instance, may involve prolonged exposure to injurious conditions where no specific time, place or cause is identifiable. Ideally, the time, place and cause of a loss should be clear enough that a reasonable person, with sufficient information, could objectively verify all three elements. 3. Accidental Loss. The event that constitutes the trigger of a claim should be fortuitous, or at least outside the control of the beneficiary of the insurance. The loss should be ?pure,? in the sense that it results from an event for which there is only the opportunity for cost. Events that contain speculative elements, such as ordinary business risks, are generally not considered insurable. 4. Large Loss. The size of the loss must be meaningful from the perspective of the insured. Insurance premiums need to cover both the expected cost of losses, plus the cost of issuing and administering the policy, adjusting losses, and supplying the capital needed to reasonably assure that the insurer will be able to pay claims. For small losses these latter costs may be several times the size of the expected cost of losses. There is little point in paying such costs unless the protection offered has real value to a buyer. 5. Affordable Premium. If the likelihood of an insured event is so high, or the cost of the event so large, that the resulting premium is large relative to the amount of protection offered, it is not likely that anyone will buy insurance, even if on offer. Further, as the accounting profession formally recognizes in financial accounting standards, the premium cannot be so large that there is not a reasonable chance of a significant loss to the insurer. If there is no such chance of loss, the transaction may have the form of insurance, but not the substance. (See the U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board standard number 113) 6. Calculable Loss. There are two elements that must be at least estimable, if not formally calculable: the probability of loss, and the attendant cost. Probability of loss is generally an empirical exercise, while cost has more to do with the ability of a reasonable person in possession of a copy of the insurance policy and a proof of loss associated with a claim presented under that policy to make a reasonably definite and objective evaluation of the amount of the loss recoverable as a result of the claim. 7. Limited risk of catastrophically large losses. The essential risk is often aggregation. If the same event can cause losses to numerous policyholders of the same insurer, the ability of that insurer to issue policies becomes constrained, not by factors surrounding the individual characteristics of a given policyholder, but by the factors surrounding the sum of all policyholders so exposed. Typically, insurers prefer to limit their exposure to a loss from a single event to some small portion of their capital base, on the order of 5 percent. Where the loss can be aggregated, or an individual policy could produce exceptionally large claims, the capital constraint will restrict an insurer's appetite for additional policyholders. The classic example is earthquake insurance, where the ability of an underwriter to issue a new policy depends on the number and size of the policies that it has already underwritten. Wind insurance in hurricane zones, particularly along coast lines, is another example of this phenomenon. In extreme cases, the aggregation can affect the entire industry, since the combined capital of insurers and reinsurers can be small compared to the needs of potential policyholders in areas exposed to aggregation risk. In commercial fire insurance it is possible to find single properties whose total exposed value is well in excess of any individual insurer?s capital constraint. Such properties are generally shared among several insurers, or are insured by a single insurer who syndicates the risk into the reinsurance market. Main article: Indemnity The technical definition of "indemnity" means to make whole again. There are two types of insurance contracts; 1. an "indemnity" policy and 2. a "pay on behalf" or "on behalf of"[3] policy. The difference is significant on paper, but rarely material in practice. An "indemnity" policy will never pay claims until the insured has paid out of pocket to some third party; for example, a visitor to your home slips on a floor that you left wet and sues you for $10,000 and wins. Under an "indemnity" policy the homeowner would have to come up with the $10,000 to pay for the visitor's fall and then would be "indemnified" by the insurance carrier for the out of pocket costs (the $10,000)[4]. Under the same situation, a "pay on behalf" policy, the insurance carrier would pay the claim and the insured (the homeowner) would not be out of pocket for anything. Most modern liability insurance is written on the basis of "pay on behalf" language[5]. An entity seeking to transfer risk (an individual, corporation, or association of any type, etc.) becomes the 'insured' party once risk is assumed by an 'insurer', the insuring party, by means of a contract, called an insurance 'policy'. Generally, an insurance contract includes, at a minimum, the following elements: the parties (the insurer, the insured, the beneficiaries), the premium, the period of coverage, the particular loss event covered, the amount of coverage (i.e., the amount to be paid to the insured or beneficiary in the event of a loss), and exclusions (events not covered). An insured is thus said to be "indemnified" against the loss covered in the policy. When insured parties experience a loss for a specified peril, the coverage entitles the policyholder to make a 'claim' against the insurer for the covered amount of loss as specified by the policy. The fee paid by the insured to the insurer for assuming the risk is called the 'premium'. Insurance premiums from many insureds are used to fund accounts reserved for later payment of claims?in theory for a relatively few claimants?and for overhead costs. So long as an insurer maintains adequate funds set aside for anticipated losses (i.e., reserves), the remaining margin is an insurer's profit. Underwriting and investing The business model can be reduced to a simple equation: Profit = earned premium + investment income - incurred loss - underwriting expenses. Insurers make money in two ways: 1. Through underwriting, the process by which insurers select the risks to insure and decide how much in premiums to charge for accepting those risks; 2. By investing the premiums they collect from insured parties. The most complicated aspect of the insurance business is the underwriting of policies. Using a wide assortment of data, insurers predict the likelihood that a claim will be made against their policies and price products accordingly. To this end, insurers use actuarial science to quantify the risks they are willing to assume and the premium they will charge to assume them. Data is analyzed to fairly accurately project the rate of future claims based on a given risk. Actuarial science uses statistics and probability to analyze the risks associated with the range of perils covered, and these scientific principles are used to determine an insurer's overall exposure. Upon termination of a given policy, the amount of premium collected and the investment gains thereon minus the amount paid out in claims is the insurer's underwriting profit on that policy. Of course, from the insurer's perspective, some policies are "winners" (i.e., the insurer pays out less in claims and expenses than it receives in premiums and investment income) and some are "losers" (i.e., the insurer pays out more in claims and expenses than it receives in premiums and investment income); insurance companies essentially use actuarial science to attempt to underwrite enough "winning" policies to pay out on the "losers" while still maintaining profitability. An insurer's underwriting performance is measured in its combined ratio. The loss ratio (incurred losses and loss-adjustment expenses divided by net earned premium) is added to the expense ratio (underwriting expenses divided by net premium written) to determine the company's combined ratio. The combined ratio is a reflection of the company's overall underwriting profitability. A combined ratio of less than 100 percent indicates underwriting profitability, while anything over 100 indicates an underwriting loss. Insurance companies also earn investment profits on ?float?. ?Float? or available reserve is the amount of money, at hand at any given moment, that an insurer has collected in insurance premiums but has not been paid out in claims. Insurers start investing insurance premiums as soon as they are collected and continue to earn interest on them until claims are paid out. The Association of British Insurers (gathering 400 insurance companies and 94% of UK insurance services) has almost 20% of the investments in the London Stock Exchange.[6] In the United States, the underwriting loss of property and casualty insurance companies was $142.3 billion in the five years ending 2003. But overall profit for the same period was $68.4 billion, as the result of float. Some insurance industry insiders, most notably Hank Greenberg, do not believe that it is forever possible to sustain a profit from float without an underwriting profit as well, but this opinion is not universally held. Naturally, the ?float? method is difficult to carry out in an economically depressed period. Bear markets do cause insurers to shift away from investments and to toughen up their underwriting standards. So a poor economy generally means high insurance premiums. This tendency to swing between profitable and unprofitable periods over time is commonly known as the "underwriting" or insurance cycle. [7] Property and casualty insurers currently make the most money from their auto insurance line of business. Generally better statistics are available on auto losses and underwriting on this line of business has benefited greatly from advances in computing. Additionally, property losses in the United States, due to unpredictable natural catastrophes, have exacerbated this trend. [edit] Claims Claims and loss handling is the materialized utility of insurance; it is the actual "product" paid for, though one hopes it will never need to be used. Claims may be filed by insureds directly with the insurer or through brokers or agents. The insurer may require that the claim be filed on its own proprietary forms, or may accept claims on a standard industry form such as those produced by ACORD. Insurance company claim departments employ a large number of claims adjusters supported by a staff of records management and data entry clerks. Incoming claims are classified based on severity and are assigned to adjusters whose settlement authority varies with their knowledge and experience. The adjuster undertakes a thorough investigation of each claim, usually in close cooperation with the insured, determines its reasonable monetary value, and authorizes payment. Adjusting liability insurance claims is particularly difficult because there is a third party involved (the plaintiff who is suing the insured) who is under no contractual obligation to cooperate with the insurer and in fact may regard the insurer as a deep pocket. The adjuster must obtain legal counsel for the insured (either inside "house" counsel or outside "panel" counsel), monitor litigation that may take years to complete, and appear in person or over the telephone with settlement authority at a mandatory settlement conference when requested by the judge. In managing the claims handling function, insurers seek to balance the elements of customer satisfaction, administrative handling expenses, and claims overpayment leakages. As part of this balancing act, fraudulent insurance practices are a major business risk that must be managed and overcome. Disputes between insurers and insureds over the validity of claims or claims handling practices occasionally escalate into litigation; see insurance bad faith. Main article: History of insurance In some sense we can say that insurance appears simultaneously with the appearance of human society. We know of two types of economies in human societies: money economies (with markets, money, financial instruments and so on) and non-money or natural economies (without money, markets, financial instruments and so on). The second type is a more ancient form than the first. In such an economy and community, we can see insurance in the form of people helping each other. For example, if a house burns down, the members of the community help build a new one. Should the same thing happen to one's neighbour, the other neighbours must help. Otherwise, neighbours will not receive help in the future. This type of insurance has survived to the present day in some countries where modern money economy with its financial instruments is not widespread (for example countries in the territory of the former Soviet Union). Turning to insurance in the modern sense (i.e., insurance in a modern money economy, in which insurance is part of the financial sphere), early methods of transferring or distributing risk were practised by Chinese and Babylonian traders as long ago as the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC, respectively.[8] Chinese merchants travelling treacherous river rapids would redistribute their wares across many vessels to limit the loss due to any single vessel's capsizing. The Babylonians developed a system which was recorded in the famous Code of Hammurabi, c. 1750 BC, and practised by early Mediterranean sailing merchants. If a merchant received a loan to fund his shipment, he would pay the lender an additional sum in exchange for the lender's guarantee to cancel the loan should the shipment be stolen or lost at sea. Achaemenian monarchs of Ancient Persia were the first to insure their people and made it official by registering the insuring process in governmental notary offices. The insurance tradition was performed each year in Norouz (beginning of the Iranian New Year); the heads of different ethnic groups as well as others willing to take part, presented gifts to the monarch. The most important gift was presented during a special ceremony. When a gift was worth more than 10,000 Derrik (Achaemenian gold coin) the issue was registered in a special office. This was advantageous to those who presented such special gifts. For others, the presents were fairly assessed by the confidants of the court. Then the assessment was registered in special offices. The purpose of registering was that whenever the person who presented the gift registered by the court was in trouble, the monarch and the court would help him. Jahez, a historian and writer, writes in one of his books on ancient Iran: "[W]henever the owner of the present is in trouble or wants to construct a building, set up a feast, have his children married, etc. the one in charge of this in the court would check the registration. If the registered amount exceeded 10,000 Derrik, he or she would receive an amount of twice as much."[1] A thousand years later, the inhabitants of Rhodes invented the concept of the 'general average'. Merchants whose goods were being shipped together would pay a proportionally divided premium which would be used to reimburse any merchant whose goods were jettisoned during storm or sinkage. The Greeks and Romans introduced the origins of health and life insurance c. 600 AD when they organized guilds called "benevolent societies" which cared for the families and paid funeral expenses of members upon death. Guilds in the Middle Ages served a similar purpose. The Talmud deals with several aspects of insuring goods. Before insurance was established in the late 17th century, "friendly societies" existed in England, in which people donated amounts of money to a general sum that could be used for emergencies. Separate insurance contracts (i.e., insurance policies not bundled with loans or other kinds of contracts) were invented in Genoa in the 14th century, as were insurance pools backed by pledges of landed estates. These new insurance contracts allowed insurance to be separated from investment, a separation of roles that first proved useful in marine insurance. Insurance became far more sophisticated in post-Renaissance Europe, and specialized varieties developed. Some forms of insurance had developed in London by the early decades of the seventeenth century. For example, the will of the English colonist Robert Hayman mentions two "policies of insurance" taken out with the diocesan Chancellor of London, Arthur Duck. Of the value of ?100 each, one relates to the safe arrival of Hayman's ship in Guyana and the other is in regard to "one hundred pounds assured by the said Doctor Arthur Ducke on my life". Hayman's will was signed and sealed on 17 November 1628 but not proved until 1633.[9] Toward the end of the seventeenth century, London's growing importance as a centre for trade increased demand for marine insurance. In the late 1680s, Edward Lloyd opened a coffee house that became a popular haunt of ship owners, merchants, and ships? captains, and thereby a reliable source of the latest shipping news. It became the meeting place for parties wishing to insure cargoes and ships, and those willing to underwrite such ventures. Today, Lloyd's of London remains the leading market (note that it is not an insurance company) for marine and other specialist types of insurance, but it works rather differently than the more familiar kinds of insurance. Insurance as we know it today can be traced to the Great Fire of London, which in 1666 devoured 13,200 houses. In the aftermath of this disaster, Nicholas Barbon opened an office to insure buildings. In 1680, he established England's first fire insurance company, "The Fire Office," to insure brick and frame homes. The first insurance company in the United States underwrote fire insurance and was formed in Charles Town (modern-day Charleston), South Carolina, in 1732. Benjamin Franklin helped to popularize and make standard the practice of insurance, particularly against fire in the form of perpetual insurance. In 1752, he founded the Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire. Franklin's company was the first to make contributions toward fire prevention. Not only did his company warn against certain fire hazards, it refused to insure certain buildings where the risk of fire was too great, such as all wooden houses. In the United States, regulation of the insurance industry is highly Balkanized, with primary responsibility assumed by individual state insurance departments. Whereas insurance markets have become centralized nationally and internationally, state insurance commissioners operate individually, though at times in concert through a national insurance commissioners' organization. In recent years, some have called for a dual state and federal regulatory system (commonly referred to as the Optional federal charter (OFC)) for insurance similar to that which oversees state banks and national banks. Types of insurance Any risk that can be quantified can potentially be insured. Specific kinds of risk that may give rise to claims are known as "perils". An insurance policy will set out in detail which perils are covered by the policy and which are not. Below are (non-exhaustive) lists of the many different types of insurance that exist. A single policy may cover risks in one or more of the categories set out below. For example, auto insurance would typically cover both property risk (covering the risk of theft or damage to the car) and liability risk (covering legal claims from causing an accident). A homeowner's insurance policy in the U.S. typically includes property insurance covering damage to the home and the owner's belongings, liability insurance covering certain legal claims against the owner, and even a small amount of coverage for medical expenses of guests who are injured on the owner's property. Business insurance can be any kind of insurance that protects businesses against risks. Some principal subtypes of business insurance are (a) the various kinds of professional liability insurance, also called professional indemnity insurance, which are discussed below under that name; and (b) the business owner's policy (BOP), which bundles into one policy many of the kinds of coverage that a business owner needs, in a way analogous to how homeowners insurance bundles the coverages that a homeowner needs.[10] Auto insurance protects you against financial loss if you have an accident. It is a contract between you and the insurance company. You agree to pay the premium and the insurance company agrees to pay your losses as defined in your policy. Auto insurance provides property, liability and medical coverage: 1. Property coverage pays for damage to or theft of your car. 2. Liability coverage pays for your legal responsibility to others for bodily injury or property damage. 3. Medical coverage pays for the cost of treating injuries, rehabilitation and sometimes lost wages and funeral expenses. An auto insurance policy comprises six kinds of coverage. Most countries require you to buy some, but not all, of these coverages. If you're financing a car, your lender may also have requirements. Most auto policies are for six months to a year. In the United States, your insurance company should notify you by mail when it?s time to renew the policy and to pay your premium. [11] Main article: Home insurance Home insurance provides compensation for damage or destruction of a home from disasters. In some geographical areas, the standard insurances excludes certain types of disasters, such as flood and earthquakes, that require additional coverage. Maintenance-related problems are the homeowners' responsibility. The policy may include inventory, or this can be bought as a separate policy, especially for people who rent housing. In some countries, insurers offer a package which may include liability and legal responsibility for injuries and property damage caused by members of the household, including pets.[12] [edit] Health Main articles: Health insurance and Dental insurance NHS Facility Health insurance policies by the National Health Service in the United Kingdom (NHS) or other publicly-funded health programs will cover the cost of medical treatments. Dental insurance, like medical insurance, is coverage for individuals to protect them against dental costs. In the U.S., dental insurance is often part of an employer's benefits package, along with health insurance. [edit] Accident, Sickness and Unemployment Insurance * Disability insurance policies provide financial support in the event the policyholder is unable to work because of disabling illness or injury. It provides monthly support to help pay such obligations as mortgages and credit cards. * Disability overhead insurance allows business owners to cover the overhead expenses of their business while they are unable to work. * Total permanent disability insurance provides benefits when a person is permanently disabled and can no longer work in their profession, often taken as an adjunct to life insurance. * Workers' compensation insurance replaces all or part of a worker's wages lost and accompanying medical expenses incurred because of a job-related injury. [edit] Casualty Casualty insurance insures against accidents, not necessarily tied to any specific property. Main article: Casualty insurance * Crime insurance is a form of casualty insurance that covers the policyholder against losses arising from the criminal acts of third parties. For example, a company can obtain crime insurance to cover losses arising from theft or embezzlement. * Political risk insurance is a form of casualty insurance that can be taken out by businesses with operations in countries in which there is a risk that revolution or other political conditions will result in a loss. [edit] Life Main article: Life insurance Life insurance provides a monetary benefit to a decedent's family or other designated beneficiary, and may specifically provide for income to an insured person's family, burial, funeral and other final expenses. Life insurance policies often allow the option of having the proceeds paid to the beneficiary either in a lump sum cash payment or an annuity. Annuities provide a stream of payments and are generally classified as insurance because they are issued by insurance companies and regulated as insurance and require the same kinds of actuarial and investment management expertise that life insurance requires. Annuities and pensions that pay a benefit for life are sometimes regarded as insurance against the possibility that a retiree will outlive his or her financial resources. In that sense, they are the complement of life insurance and, from an underwriting perspective, are the mirror image of life insurance. Certain life insurance contracts accumulate cash values, which may be taken by the insured if the policy is surrendered or which may be borrowed against. Some policies, such as annuities and endowment policies, are financial instruments to accumulate or liquidate wealth when it is needed. In many countries, such as the U.S. and the UK, the tax law provides that the interest on this cash value is not taxable under certain circumstances. This leads to widespread use of life insurance as a tax-efficient method of saving as well as protection in the event of early death. In U.S., the tax on interest income on life insurance policies and annuities is generally deferred. However, in some cases the benefit derived from tax deferral may be offset by a low return. This depends upon the insuring company, the type of policy and other variables (mortality, market return, etc.). Moreover, other income tax saving vehicles (e.g., IRAs, 401(k) plans, Roth IRAs) may be better alternatives for value accumulation. [edit] Property Main article: Property insurance This tornado damage to an Illinois home would be considered an "Act of God" for insurance purposes Property insurance provides protection against risks to property, such as fire, theft or weather damage. This includes specialized forms of insurance such as fire insurance, flood insurance, earthquake insurance, home insurance, inland marine insurance or boiler insurance. * Automobile insurance, known in the UK as motor insurance, is probably the most common form of insurance and may cover both legal liability claims against the driver and loss of or damage to the insured's vehicle itself. Throughout the United States an auto insurance policy is required to legally operate a motor vehicle on public roads. In some jurisdictions, bodily injury compensation for automobile accident victims has been changed to a no-fault system, which reduces or eliminates the ability to sue for compensation but provides automatic eligibility for benefits. Credit card companies insure against damage on rented cars. o Driving School Insurance insurance provides cover for any authorized driver whilst undergoing tuition, cover also unlike other motor policies provides cover for instructor liability where both the pupil and driving instructor are equally liable in the event of a claim. * Aviation insurance insures against hull, spares, deductibles, hull wear and liability risks. * Boiler insurance (also known as boiler and machinery insurance or equipment breakdown insurance) insures against accidental physical damage to equipment or machinery. * Builder's risk insurance insures against the risk of physical loss or damage to property during construction. Builder's risk insurance is typically written on an "all risk" basis covering damage due to any cause (including the negligence of the insured) not otherwise expressly excluded. * Crop insurance "Farmers use crop insurance to reduce or manage various risks associated with growing crops. Such risks include crop loss or damage caused by weather, hail, drought, frost damage, insects, or disease, for instance."[13] * Earthquake insurance is a form of property insurance that pays the policyholder in the event of an earthquake that causes damage to the property. Most ordinary homeowners insurance policies do not cover earthquake damage. Most earthquake insurance policies feature a high deductible. Rates depend on location and the probability of an earthquake, as well as the construction of the home. * A fidelity bond is a form of casualty insurance that covers policyholders for losses that they incur as a result of fraudulent acts by specified individuals. It usually insures a business for losses caused by the dishonest acts of its employees. * Flood insurance protects against property loss due to flooding. Many insurers in the U.S. do not provide flood insurance in some portions of the country. In response to this, the federal government created the National Flood Insurance Program which serves as the insurer of last resort. * Home insurance or homeowners' insurance: See "Property insurance". * Landlord insurance is specifically designed for people who own properties which they rent out. Most house insurance cover in the U.K will not be valid if the property is rented out therefore landlords must take out this specialist form of home insurance. * Marine insurance and marine cargo insurance cover the loss or damage of ships at sea or on inland waterways, and of the cargo that may be on them. When the owner of the cargo and the carrier are separate corporations, marine cargo insurance typically compensates the owner of cargo for losses sustained from fire, shipwreck, etc., but excludes losses that can be recovered from the carrier or the carrier's insurance. Many marine insurance underwriters will include "time element" coverage in such policies, which extends the indemnity to cover loss of profit and other business expenses attributable to the delay caused by a covered loss. * Surety bond insurance is a three party insurance guaranteeing the performance of the principal. * Terrorism insurance provides protection against any loss or damage caused by terrorist activities. * Volcano insurance is an insurance that covers volcano damage in Hawaii. * Windstorm insurance is an insurance covering the damage that can be caused by hurricanes and tropical cyclones. [edit] Liability Main article: Liability insurance Liability insurance is a very broad superset that covers legal claims against the insured. Many types of insurance include an aspect of liability coverage. For example, a homeowner's insurance policy will normally include liability coverage which protects the insured in the event of a claim brought by someone who slips and falls on the property; automobile insurance also includes an aspect of liability insurance that indemnifies against the harm that a crashing car can cause to others' lives, health, or property. The protection offered by a liability insurance policy is twofold: a legal defense in the event of a lawsuit commenced against the policyholder and indemnification (payment on behalf of the insured) with respect to a settlement or court verdict. Liability policies typically cover only the negligence of the insured, and will not apply to results of wilful or intentional acts by the insured. * Public liability insurance covers a business against claims should its operations injure a member of the public or damage their property in some way. * Directors and officers liability insurance protects an organization (usually a corporation) from costs associated with litigation resulting from mistakes made by directors and officers for which they are liable. In the industry, it is usually called "D&O" for short. * Environmental liability insurance protects the insured from bodily injury, property damage and cleanup costs as a result of the dispersal, release or escape of pollutants. * Errors and omissions insurance: See "Professional liability insurance" under "Liability insurance". * Prize indemnity insurance protects the insured from giving away a large prize at a specific event. Examples would include offering prizes to contestants who can make a half-court shot at a basketball game, or a hole-in-one at a golf tournament. * Professional liability insurance, also called professional indemnity insurance, protects insured professionals such as architectural corporation and medical practice against potential negligence claims made by their patients/clients. Professional liability insurance may take on different names depending on the profession. For example, professional liability insurance in reference to the medical profession may be called malpractice insurance. Notaries public may take out errors and omissions insurance (E&O). Other potential E&O policyholders include, for example, real estate brokers, Insurance agents, home inspectors, appraisers, and website developers. [edit] Credit Main article: Credit insurance Credit insurance repays some or all of a loan when certain things happen to the borrower such as unemployment, disability, or death. * Mortgage insurance insures the lender against default by the borrower. Mortgage insurance is a form of credit insurance, although the name credit insurance more often is used to refer to policies that cover other kinds of debt. * Many credit cards offer payment protection plans which are a form of credit insurance. [edit] Other types * Collateral protection insurance or CPI, insures property (primarily vehicles) held as collateral for loans made by lending institutions. * Defense Base Act Workers' compensation or DBA Insurance provides coverage for civilian workers hired by the government to perform contracts outside the U.S. and Canada. DBA is required for all U.S. citizens, U.S. residents, U.S. Green Card holders, and all employees or subcontractors hired on overseas government contracts. Depending on the country, Foreign Nationals must also be covered under DBA. This coverage typically includes expenses related to medical treatment and loss of wages, as well as disability and death benefits. * Expatriate insurance provides individuals and organizations operating outside of their home country with protection for automobiles, property, health, liability and business pursuits. * Financial loss insurance or Business Interruption Insurance protects individuals and companies against various financial risks. For example, a business might purchase coverage to protect it from loss of sales if a fire in a factory prevented it from carrying out its business for a time. Insurance might also cover the failure of a creditor to pay money it owes to the insured. This type of insurance is frequently referred to as "business interruption insurance." Fidelity bonds and surety bonds are included in this category, although these products provide a benefit to a third party (the "obligee") in the event the insured party (usually referred to as the "obligor") fails to perform its obligations under a contract with the obligee. * Kidnap and ransom insurance * Locked funds insurance is a little-known hybrid insurance policy jointly issued by governments and banks. It is used to protect public funds from tamper by unauthorized parties. In special cases, a government may authorize its use in protecting semi-private funds which are liable to tamper. The terms of this type of insurance are usually very strict. Therefore it is used only in extreme cases where maximum security of funds is required. * Nuclear incident insurance covers damages resulting from an incident involving radioactive materials and is generally arranged at the national level. See the Nuclear exclusion clause and for the United States the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act) * Pet insurance insures pets against accidents and illnesses - some companies cover routine/wellness care and burial, as well. * Pollution Insurance which consists of first-party coverage for contamination of insured property either by external or on-site sources. Coverage for liability to third parties arising from contamination of air, water, or land due to the sudden and accidental release of hazardous materials from the insured site. The policy usually covers the costs of cleanup and may include coverage for releases from underground storage tanks. Intentional acts are specifically excluded. * Purchase insurance is aimed at providing protection on the products people purchase. Purchase insurance can cover individual purchase protection, warranties, guarantees, care plans and even mobile phone insurance. Such insurance is normally very limited in the scope of problems that are covered by the policy. * Title insurance provides a guarantee that title to real property is vested in the purchaser and/or mortgagee, free and clear of liens or encumbrances. It is usually issued in conjunction with a search of the public records performed at the time of a real estate transaction. * Travel insurance is an insurance cover taken by those who travel abroad, which covers certain losses such as medical expenses, loss of personal belongings, travel delay, personal liabilities, etc. * Media Insurance is designed to cover professionals that engage in film, video and TV production. * Legal Expenses Insurance covers policyholders against the potential costs of legal action against an institution or an individual. [edit] Insurance financing vehicles * Fraternal insurance is provided on a cooperative basis by fraternal benefit societies or other social organizations.[14] * No-fault insurance is a type of insurance policy (typically automobile insurance) where insureds are indemnified by their own insurer regardless of fault in the incident. * Protected Self-Insurance is an alternative risk financing mechanism in which an organization retains the mathematically calculated cost of risk within the organization and transfers the catastrophic risk with specific and aggregate limits to an insurer so the maximum total cost of the program is known. A properly designed and underwritten Protected Self-Insurance Program reduces and stabilizes the cost of insurance and provides valuable risk management information. * Retrospectively Rated Insurance is a method of establishing a premium on large commercial accounts. The final premium is based on the insured's actual loss experience during the policy term, sometimes subject to a minimum and maximum premium, with the final premium determined by a formula. Under this plan, the current year's premium is based partially (or wholly) on the current year's losses, although the premium adjustments may take months or years beyond the current year's expiration date. The rating formula is guaranteed in the insurance contract. Formula: retrospective premium = converted loss + basic premium ? tax multiplier. Numerous variations of this formula have been developed and are in use. * Formal self insurance is the deliberate decision to pay for otherwise insurable losses out of one's own money. This can be done on a formal basis by establishing a separate fund into which funds are deposited on a periodic basis, or by simply forgoing the purchase of available insurance and paying out-of-pocket. Self insurance is usually used to pay for high-frequency, low-severity losses. Such losses, if covered by conventional insurance, mean having to pay a premium that includes loadings for the company's general expenses, cost of putting the policy on the books, acquisition expenses, premium taxes, and contingencies. While this is true for all insurance, for small, frequent losses the transaction costs may exceed the benefit of volatility reduction that insurance otherwise affords. * Reinsurance is a type of insurance purchased by insurance companies or self-insured employers to protect against unexpected losses. Financial reinsurance is a form of reinsurance that is primarily used for capital management rather than to transfer insurance risk. * Social insurance can be many things to many people in many countries. But a summary of its essence is that it is a collection of insurance coverages (including components of life insurance, disability income insurance, unemployment insurance, health insurance, and others), plus retirement savings, that requires participation by all citizens. By forcing everyone in society to be a policyholder and pay premiums, it ensures that everyone can become a claimant when or if he/she needs to. Along the way this inevitably becomes related to other concepts such as the justice system and the welfare state. This is a large, complicated topic that engenders tremendous debate, which can be further studied in the following articles (and others): o National Insurance o Social safety net o Social security o Social Security debate (United States) o Social Security (United States) o Social welfare provision * Stop-loss insurance provides protection against catastrophic or unpredictable losses. It is purchased by organizations who do not want to assume 100% of the liability for losses arising from the plans. Under a stop-loss policy, the insurance company becomes liable for losses that exceed certain limits called deductibles. [edit] Closed community self-insurance Some communities prefer to create virtual insurance amongst themselves by other means than contractual risk transfer, which assigns explicit numerical values to risk. A number of religious groups, including the Amish and some Muslim groups, depend on support provided by their communities when disasters strike. The risk presented by any given person is assumed collectively by the community who all bear the cost of rebuilding lost property and supporting people whose needs are suddenly greater after a loss of some kind. In supportive communities where others can be trusted to follow community leaders, this tacit form of insurance can work. In this manner the community can even out the extreme differences in insurability that exist among its members. Some further justification is also provided by invoking the moral hazard of explicit insurance contracts. In the United Kingdom, The Crown (which, for practical purposes, meant the Civil service) did not insure property such as government buildings. If a government building was damaged, the cost of repair would be met from public funds because, in the long run, this was cheaper than paying insurance premiums. Since many UK government buildings have been sold to property companies, and rented back, this arrangement is now less common and may have disappeared altogether. [edit] Insurance companies Insurance companies may be classified into two groups: * Life insurance companies, which sell life insurance, annuities and pensions products. * Non-life, General, or Property/Casualty insurance companies, which sell other types of insurance. General insurance companies can be further divided into these sub categories. * Standard Lines * Excess Lines In most countries, life and non-life insurers are subject to different regulatory regimes and different tax and accounting rules. The main reason for the distinction between the two types of company is that life, annuity, and pension business is very long-term in nature ? coverage for life assurance or a pension can cover risks over many decades. By contrast, non-life insurance cover usually covers a shorter period, such as one year. In the United States, standard line insurance companies are "mainstream" insurers. These are the companies that typically insure autos, homes or businesses. They use pattern or "cookie-cutter" policies without variation from one person to the next. They usually have lower premiums than excess lines and can sell directly to individuals. They are regulated by state laws that can restrict the amount they can charge for insurance policies. Excess line insurance companies (aka Excess and Surplus) typically insure risks not covered by the standard lines market. They are broadly referred as being all insurance placed with non-admitted insurers. Non-admitted insurers are not licensed in the states where the risks are located. These companies have more flexibility and can react faster than standard insurance companies because they are not required to file rates and forms as the "admitted" carriers do. However, they still have substantial regulatory requirements placed upon them. State laws generally require insurance placed with surplus line agents and brokers not to be available through standard licensed insurers. Insurance companies are generally classified as either mutual or stock companies. Mutual companies are owned by the policyholders, while stockholders (who may or may not own policies) own stock insurance companies. Demutualization of mutual insurers to form stock companies, as well as the formation of a hybrid known as a mutual holding company, became common in some countries, such as the United States, in the late 20th century. Other possible forms for an insurance company include reciprocals, in which policyholders 'reciprocate' in sharing risks, and Lloyds organizations. Insurance companies are rated by various agencies such as A. M. Best. The ratings include the company's financial strength, which measures its ability to pay claims. It also rates financial instruments issued by the insurance company, such as bonds, notes, and securitization products. Reinsurance companies are insurance companies that sell policies to other insurance companies, allowing them to reduce their risks and protect themselves from very large losses. The reinsurance market is dominated by a few very large companies, with huge reserves. A reinsurer may also be a direct writer of insurance risks as well. Captive insurance companies may be defined as limited-purpose insurance companies established with the specific objective of financing risks emanating from their parent group or groups. This definition can sometimes be extended to include some of the risks of the parent company's customers. In short, it is an in-house self-insurance vehicle. Captives may take the form of a "pure" entity (which is a 100% subsidiary of the self-insured parent company); of a "mutual" captive (which insures the collective risks of members of an industry); and of an "association" captive (which self-insures individual risks of the members of a professional, commercial or industrial association). Captives represent commercial, economic and tax advantages to their sponsors because of the reductions in costs they help create and for the ease of insurance risk management and the flexibility for cash flows they generate. Additionally, they may provide coverage of risks which is neither available nor offered in the traditional insurance market at reasonable prices. The types of risk that a captive can underwrite for their parents include property damage, public and product liability, professional indemnity, employee benefits, employers' liability, motor and medical aid expenses. The captive's exposure to such risks may be limited by the use of reinsurance. Captives are becoming an increasingly important component of the risk management and risk financing strategy of their parent. This can be understood against the following background: * heavy and increasing premium costs in almost every line of coverage; * difficulties in insuring certain types of fortuitous risk; * differential coverage standards in various parts of the world; * rating structures which reflect market trends rather than individual loss experience; * insufficient credit for deductibles and/or loss control efforts. There are also companies known as 'insurance consultants'. Like a mortgage broker, these companies are paid a fee by the customer to shop around for the best insurance policy amongst many companies. Similar to an insurance consultant, an 'insurance broker' also shops around for the best insurance policy amongst many companies. However, with insurance brokers, the fee is usually paid in the form of commission from the insurer that is selected rather than directly from the client. Neither insurance consultants nor insurance brokers are insurance companies and no risks are transferred to them in insurance transactions. Third party administrators are companies that perform underwriting and sometimes claims handling services for insurance companies. These companies often have special expertise that the insurance companies do not have. The financial stability and strength of an insurance company should be a major consideration when buying an insurance contract. An insurance premium paid currently provides coverage for losses that might arise many years in the future. For that reason, the viability of the insurance carrier is very important. In recent years, a number of insurance companies have become insolvent, leaving their policyholders with no coverage (or coverage only from a government-backed insurance pool or other arrangement with less attractive payouts for losses). A number of independent rating agencies, such as Best's, Fitch, Standard & Poor's, and Moody's Investors Service, provide information and rate the financial viability of insurance companies. [edit] Global insurance industry Life insurance premia written in 2005 Non-life insurance premia written in 2005 Global insurance premiums grew by 11% in 2007 (or 3.3% in real terms) to reach $4.1 trillion. The macro-economic environment was characterised by slower economic growth in 2007 and rising inflation. Profitability improved in life insurance and fell slightly in the non-life sector during the year. Life insurance premiums grew by 12.6%, accelerating in the advanced economies with the exception of Japan and Continental Europe. Non-life insurance premiums grew by 7.6% during the year. Figures for premium income are not yet available for 2008, but the insurance industry is likely to see a slowdown in new business and falling investment revenue. Advanced economies account for the bulk of global insurance. With premium income of $1,681bn, Europe was the most important region, followed by North America ($1,330bn) and Asia ($814bn). The top four countries accounted for nearly 60% of premiums in 2007. The US and UK alone accounted for 42% of world insurance, much higher than their 7% share of the global population. Emerging markets accounted for over 85% of the world?s population but generated only around 10% of premiums. [15] [edit] Controversies [edit] Insurance insulates too much By creating a "security blanket" for its insureds, an insurance company may inadvertently find that its insureds may not be as risk-averse as they might otherwise be (since, by definition, the insured has transferred the risk to the insurer,) a concept known as moral hazard. To reduce their own financial exposure, insurance companies have contractual clauses that mitigate their obligation to provide coverage if the insured engages in behavior that grossly magnifies their risk of loss or liability.[citation needed] For example, life insurance companies may require higher premiums or deny coverage altogether to people who work in hazardous occupations or engage in dangerous sports. Liability insurance providers do not provide coverage for liability arising from intentional torts committed by the insured. Even if a provider were so irrational as to want to provide such coverage, it is against the public policy of most countries to allow such insurance to exist, and thus it is usually illegal.[citation needed] [edit] Complexity of insurance policy contracts Insurance policies can be complex and some policyholders may not understand all the fees and coverages included in a policy. As a result, people may buy policies on unfavorable terms. In response to these issues, many countries have enacted detailed statutory and regulatory regimes governing every aspect of the insurance business, including minimum standards for policies and the ways in which they may be advertised and sold. For example, most insurance policies in the English language today have been carefully drafted in plain English; the industry learned the hard way that many courts will not enforce policies against insureds when the judges themselves cannot understand what the policies are saying. Many institutional insurance purchasers buy insurance through an insurance broker. While on the surface it appears the broker represents the buyer (not the insurance company), and typically counsels the buyer on appropriate coverage and policy limitations, it should be noted that in the vast majority of cases a broker's compensation comes in the form of a commission as a percentage of the insurance premium, creating a conflict of interest in that the broker's financial interest is tilted towards encouraging an insured to purchase more insurance than might be necessary at a higher price. A broker generally holds contracts with many insurers, thereby allowing the broker to "shop" the market for the best rates and coverage possible. Insurance may also be purchased through an agent. Unlike a broker, who represents the policyholder, an agent represents the insurance company from whom the policyholder buys. An agent can represent more than one company. An independent insurance consultant advises insureds on a fee-for-service retainer, similar to an attorney, and thus offers completely independent advice, free of the financial conflict of interest of brokers and/or agents. However, such a consultant must still work through brokers and/or agents in order to secure coverage for their clients. [edit] Redlining Redlining is the practice of denying insurance coverage in specific geographic areas, supposedly because of a high likelihood of loss, while the alleged motivation is unlawful discrimination. Racial profiling or redlining has a long history in the property insurance industry in the United States. From a review of industry underwriting and marketing materials, court documents, and research by government agencies, industry and community groups, and academics, it is clear that race has long affected and continues to affect the policies and practices of the insurance industry.[16] In July, 2007, The Federal Trade Commission released a report presenting the results of a study concerning credit-based insurance scores and automobile insurance. The study found that these scores are effective predictors of the claims that consumers will file. (http://www2.ftc.gov/os/2007/07/P044804FACTA_Report_Credit-Based_Insurance_Scores.pdf) All states have provisions in their rate regulation laws or in their fair trade practice acts that prohibit unfair discrimination, often called redlining, in setting rates and making insurance available.[17] In determining premiums and premium rate structures, insurers consider quantifiable factors, including location, credit scores, gender, occupation, marital status, and education level. However, the use of such factors is often considered to be unfair or unlawfully discriminatory, and the reaction against this practice has in some instances led to political disputes about the ways in which insurers determine premiums and regulatory intervention to limit the factors used. An insurance underwriter's job is to evaluate a given risk as to the likelihood that a loss will occur. Any factor that causes a greater likelihood of loss should theoretically be charged a higher rate. This basic principle of insurance must be followed if insurance companies are to remain solvent.[citation needed] Thus, "discrimination" against (i.e., negative differential treatment of) potential insureds in the risk evaluation and premium-setting process is a necessary by-product of the fundamentals of insurance underwriting. For instance, insurers charge older people significantly higher premiums than they charge younger people for term life insurance. Older people are thus treated differently than younger people (i.e., a distinction is made, discrimination occurs). The rationale for the differential treatment goes to the heart of the risk a life insurer takes: Old people are likely to die sooner than young people, so the risk of loss (the insured's death) is greater in any given period of time and therefore the risk premium must be higher to cover the greater risk. However, treating insureds differently when there is no actuarially sound reason for doing so is unlawful discrimination. What is often missing from the debate is that prohibiting the use of legitimate, actuarially sound factors means that an insufficient amount is being charged for a given risk, and there is thus a deficit in the system.[citation needed] The failure to address the deficit may mean insolvency and hardship for all of a company's insureds.[citation needed] The options for addressing the deficit seem to be the following: Charge the deficit to the other policyholders or charge it to the government (i.e., externalize outside of the company to society at large).[citation needed] [edit] Insurance patents Further information: Insurance patent New assurance products can now be protected from copying with a business method patent in the United States. A recent example of a new insurance product that is patented is Usage Based auto insurance. Early versions were independently invented and patented by a major U.S. auto insurance company, Progressive Auto Insurance (U.S. Patent 5,797,134) and a Spanish independent inventor, Salvador Minguijon Perez (EP patent 0700009). Many independent inventors are in favor of patenting new insurance products since it gives them protection from big companies when they bring their new insurance products to market. Independent inventors account for 70% of the new U.S. patent applications in this area. Many insurance executives are opposed to patenting insurance products because it creates a new risk for them. The Hartford insurance company, for example, recently had to pay $80 million to an independent inventor, Bancorp Services, in order to settle a patent infringement and theft of trade secret lawsuit for a type of corporate owned life insurance product invented and patented by Bancorp. There are currently about 150 new patent applications on insurance inventions filed per year in the United States. The rate at which patents have issued has steadily risen from 15 in 2002 to 44 in 2006. [18] Inventors can now have their insurance U.S. patent applications reviewed by the public in the Peer to Patent program.[19] The first insurance patent application to be posted was US2009005522 ?Risk assessment company?. It was posted on March 6, 2009. This patent application describes a method for increasing the ease of changing insurance companies.[20] [edit] The insurance industry and rent seeking Certain insurance products and practices have been described as rent seeking by critics.[citation needed] That is, some insurance products or practices are useful primarily because of legal benefits, such as reducing taxes, as opposed to providing protection against risks of adverse events. Under United States tax law, for example, most owners of variable annuities and variable life insurance can invest their premium payments in the stock market and defer or eliminate paying any taxes on their investments until withdrawals are made. Sometimes this tax deferral is the only reason people use these products.[citation needed] Another example is the legal infrastructure which allows life insurance to be held in an irrevocable trust which is used to pay an estate tax while the proceeds themselves are immune from the estate tax. What Everyone Needs to Know about Health Insurance Why do people desire health insurance? If you answer "to pay for medical expenses", stop for a minute. Do you have food insurance to pay for food expenses, or textile insurance to pay for clothes? Of course not. We recognize that insurance makes no sense for food and clothing. Why do we treat medical expenses differently, expecting routine care to be covered by insurance? What is insurance really about? Insurance is a vehicle for spreading risk. The participants prefer a small but certain cost instead of a large but unlikely cost. Let's proceed by analogy, using household fire insurance to explain some important features of insurance in general, and health insurance in particular. The odds of your home burning down are low, but the cost if it happens is tremendous. For most people, the uninsured loss of their home would be a ruinous financial burden. By purchasing insurance, they are protected from the catastrophe, but must regularly pay an insurance premium to get this protection. As economists never tire of saying, there are no free lunches. In total, insurance premiums must exceed insurance claims or the insurer will go out of business. The cost of anything covered by insurance is paid for through insurance premiums. For insurance companies to pay more or higher claims, premiums must correspondingly increase. In the case of health care, the tax-advantaged status of insurance premiums has created a large distortion in the market. General medical spending is only tax-advantaged if it exceeds an certain (uncommon) percentage of your income, but employer-paid insurance premiums are always tax-advantaged. The other mantra of economics (besides "no free lunches") is that incentives matter. Most people don't qualify for the tax benefit on out-of-pocket medical spending, but through their employer they do get the tax benefit for insurance premiums. Because insurance premiums fundamentally match insurance claims, in aggregate, an insurance premium can be considered as simply another way ? a tax-advantaged way ? of paying for health care. The incentive is to pay for medical care through insurance premiums rather than out-of-pocket. This favors insurance plans that offer wider coverage and smaller co-pays or deductibles. If you haven't ever thought of it this way, and therefore think you haven't been affected by the tax incentive, I have good news for you: You didn't have to think of it, because your employer and the insurance companies already figured it out. The process of economic competition has brought you the tax benefit even as you were unaware of it. An interesting historical note in this area is that employer-provided health insurance grew out of price and wage controls during World War II. Prohibited from raising wages, employers competed for employees by raising non-wage benefits such as health insurance. If you stop to think for a moment, doesn't it seem strange that individuals themselves pay for all kinds of insurance except health insurance? What sense does it make for any kind of insurance to be tied to your job? It doesn't; it's a legacy of wartime economic intervention that tax incentives have made permanent. Whenever a market doesn't make sense, look for government intervention. You'll find it. What are the effects of low co-pay/deductible, wide-coverage health insurance? Consumers don't pay much attention to price. (When was the last time you compared different doctors' prices for an office visit? If your co-pay is always the same, you don't care what the total cost is.) The aggregative nature of health insurance means that any individual's health care decisions have a negligible impact on premiums. The incentive is to consume more, because other people bear almost all the cost. When large numbers of people do this, premiums increase. This is a description of what has been happening in the United States over the past several years. As aggregate systems of payment grow, the system more and more resembles a socialist one. The end state of this trend, nationalized health care, is within sight and is positively desired by many. Socialism only strengthens the perverse incentive to consume as much health care as possible. Socialist systems "solve" the problem of ballooning costs by rationing. In Canada it takes months to get an MRI scan; in England it takes years. Rationing has come to the United States also, in the form of HMOs denying treatments. Fortunately, in the United States, federalism has made it possible to experiment with and to end socialist systems before they reach their full destructive potential. (That program, incidentally, was very similar to Kerry's national health care plan. Its cancellation ? by a Democratic governor ? should give supporters of Kerry's plan serious pause and reflection.) What would I like to see? I would like to see a move back toward insurance as insurance ? protection against catastrophe ? instead of an aggregate payment system for health care. The way to achieve this is to end the tax advantage of employer-paid premiums over out-of-pocket payment. Health Savings Accounts do this by giving the same tax advantage to both, making high-deductible (catastrophic) coverage attractive again. This form of coverage restores the incentive of individuals to pay attention to price, rekindling economic competition and simultaneously reducing excessive consumption of health care. The most serious objection to my proposal is that people who have chronic conditions will be worse off. As people who are low consumers of health care migrate to catastrophic coverage, the subsidy they had been implicitly providing to the chronically ill will be reduced. This is true, and in fact is a major personal motivation for me to switch to a catastrophic coverage plan with a Health Savings Account. I don't want to be involved in a quasi-socialist scheme paying for other peoples' medical bills. This is a complicated matter to address and requires additional background. Imagine a town filled with very similar homes, each with a small risk of fire. If everyone buys an insurance policy, the people whose houses burn down are covered. The others have lost a little money paying premiums. Ordinarily people are happy to do this; most people prefer a small but certain cost over a large but unlikely cost. So far we have assumed the risk is evenly distributed. What if it isn't? What if the investigation of a fire showed that it was caused by particularly bad wiring, and that it was known exactly half the homes in town had been wired similarly and were therefore at increased risk of burning down? This discovery changes the risk assessment. Fires in half of the homes are more likely than had been previously realized. Higher claims must mean higher premiums. (There are no free lunches.) At this point the insurer faces an alternative. Should everybody pay higher premiums to cover the overall higher rate of claims, or should just the high-risk group pay higher premiums? The free-market outcome would be for only the high-risk group to pay higher premiums. If the insurer tried to raise everyone's premium, the low-risk group would be unhappy and would switch to a competing insurer who offered the original premium on the condition of knowing the house had low-risk wiring. Because the risk groups are identifiable, the natural outcome is a separation between them. Each person would be in an insurance pool with others of a similar risk profile, and their premiums would reflect their risk. (DWL: Please no nitpicking about situations without stable equilibria, I'm trying to keep this simple!) The alternative of everyone paying a higher premium could be obtained through government intervention. However, it contains an implicit transfer of funds from the low-risk group to the high-risk group. That arrangement would be favored by the high-risk group but resented by the low-risk group. Because the situation is politically created, the friction between those two groups becomes a political matter, with all that that implies. The example of discovering bad wiring is analogous to a person discovering they have significant risk factors for a serious disease. It increases their likelihood of making insurance claims. Adjusting fire insurance premiums based on the quality of the house's wiring is analogous to adjusting health insurance premiums based on risk factors. Chronic conditions may be thought of as a risk with probability 1. Just as bad wiring is in no way the fault of the homeowner, a chronic condition may be (or in the case of genetics, is) in no way the fault of the patient. However, insurance is based on risk, not on fault or need. There is no free lunch in insurance or anywhere else. On an aggregate basis, every person should expect to pay more in premiums than they ever collect in claims. Insurance isn't a vehicle to save money. Insurance isn't a vehicle to pay for expenses. Insurance is a vehicle to dilute risk. If you have any other expectation, you will be disappointed. In a free market, people with chronic conditions will not be subsidized through the insurance system by people without chronic conditions. And that is as it should be. No one has the right to force the cost of their higher risk to be shouldered by someone else. Not in fire insurance, and not in health insurance. The fair outcome is to be in an insurance pool with people of similar risk. You may find it morally repulsive that the chronically sick must pay the most out-of-pocket. Yet it is undeniably true that they are the highest-risk group. I encourage you to ease your conscience with your wallet, not your vote ? give to medical charities or directly to those in need. Do not hijack and politicize the insurance system. That leads to socialism and the destruction of effective health care for everyone. Let insurance be insurance, and let charity be charity. Do not confuse the two. Lawyer A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person licensed to practice law."[1] Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain stability, and deliver justice. Working as a lawyer involves the practical application of abstract legal theories and knowledge to solve specific individualized problems, or to advance the interests of those who retain (i.e., hire) lawyers to perform legal services. The role of the lawyer varies significantly across legal jurisdictions, and so it can be treated here in only the most general terms.[2][3] More information is available in country-specific Terminology In practice, legal jurisdictions exercise their right to determine who is recognized as being a lawyer; as a result, the meaning of the term "lawyer" may vary from place to place.[4] * In New Zealand and Australia the word "lawyer" is used to refer to both barristers and solicitors (whether in private practice or practising as corporate in-house counsel). * In Canada, the word "lawyer" only refers to individuals who have been called to the bar or have qualified as civil law notaries in the province of Quebec. Common law lawyers in Canada may also be known as "barristers and solicitors", but should not be referred to as "attorneys", since that term has a different meaning in Canadian usage. However, in Quebec, civil law advocates (or avocats in French) often call themselves "attorney" and sometimes "barrister and solicitor". * In England, "lawyer" is used loosely to refer to a broad variety of law-trained persons. It includes practitioners such as barristers, solicitors, legal executives and licensed conveyancers; and people who are involved with the law but do not practise it on behalf of individual clients, such as judges, court clerks, and drafters of legislation. * In India, the term "lawyer" is often colloquially used, but the official term is "advocate" as prescribed under the Advocates Act, 1961.[5] * In Scotland, the word "lawyer" refers to a more specific group of legally trained people. It specifically includes advocates and solicitors. In a generic sense, it may also include judges and law-trained support staff. * In the United States, the term generally refers to attorneys who may practice law; it is never used to refer to patent agents[6] or paralegals.[7] * Other nations tend to have comparable terms for the analogous concept. [edit] Responsibilities In most countries, particularly civil law countries, there has been a tradition of giving many legal tasks to a variety of civil law notaries, clerks, and scriveners.[8][9] These countries do not have "lawyers" in the American sense, insofar as that term refers to a single type of general-purpose legal services provider;[10] rather, their legal professions consist of a large number of different kinds of law-trained persons, known as jurists, of which only some are advocates who are licensed to practice in the courts.[11][12][13] It is difficult to formulate accurate generalizations that cover all the countries with multiple legal professions, because each country has traditionally had its own peculiar method of dividing up legal work among all its different types of legal professionals.[14] Notably, England, the mother of the common law jurisdictions, emerged from the Dark Ages with similar complexity in its legal professions, but then evolved by the 19th century to a single dichotomy between barristers and solicitors. An equivalent dichotomy developed between advocates and procurators in some civil law countries, though these two types did not always monopolize the practice of law as much as barristers and solicitors, in that they always coexisted with civil law notaries.[15][16][17] Several countries that originally had two or more legal professions have since fused or united their professions into a single type of lawyer.[18][19][20][21] Most countries in this category are common law countries, though France, a civil law country, merged together its jurists in 1990 and 1991 in response to Anglo-American competition.[22] In countries with fused professions, a lawyer is usually permitted to carry out all or nearly all the responsibilities listed below. [edit] Oral argument in the courts Arguing a client's case before a judge or jury in a court of law is the traditional province of the barrister in England, and of advocates in some civil law jurisdictions.[23] However, the boundary between barristers and solicitors has evolved. In England today, the barrister monopoly covers only appellate courts, and barristers must compete directly with solicitors in many trial courts.[24] In countries like the United States that have fused legal professions, there are trial lawyers who specialize in trying cases in court, but trial lawyers do not have a de jure monopoly like barristers. In some countries, litigants have the option of arguing pro se, or on their own behalf. It is common for litigants to appear unrepresented before certain courts like small claims courts; indeed, many such courts do not allow lawyers to speak for their clients, in an effort to save money for all participants in a small case.[25] In other countries, like Venezuela, no one may appear before a judge unless represented by a lawyer.[26] The advantage of the latter regime is that lawyers are familiar with the court's customs and procedures, and make the legal system more efficient for all involved. Unrepresented parties often damage their own credibility or slow the court down as a result of their inexperience.[27][28] [edit] Research and drafting of court papers Often, lawyers brief a court in writing on the issues in a case before the issues can be orally argued. They may have to perform extensive research into relevant facts and law while drafting legal papers and preparing for oral argument. In England, the usual division of labour is that a solicitor will obtain the facts of the case from the client and then brief a barrister (usually in writing).[29] The barrister then researches and drafts the necessary court pleadings (which will be filed and served by the solicitor) and orally argues the case.[30] In Spain, the procurator merely signs and presents the papers to the court, but it is the advocate who drafts the papers and argues the case.[31] In some countries, like Japan, a scrivener or clerk may fill out court forms and draft simple papers for lay persons who cannot afford or do not need attorneys, and advise them on how to manage and argue their own cases.[32] [edit] Advocacy (written and oral) in administrative hearings In most developed countries, the legislature has granted original jurisdiction over highly technical matters to executive branch administrative agencies which oversee such things. As a result, some lawyers have become specialists in administrative law. In a few countries, there is a special category of jurists with a monopoly over this form of advocacy; for example, France formerly had conseil juridiques (who were merged into the main legal profession in 1991).[33] In other countries, like the United States, lawyers have been effectively barred by statute from certain types of administrative hearings in order to preserve their informality.[34] [edit] Client intake and counseling (with regard to pending litigation) An important aspect of a lawyer's job is developing and managing relationships with clients (or the client's employees, if the lawyer works in-house for a government or corporation). The client-lawyer relationship often begins with an intake interview where the lawyer gets to know the client personally, discovers the facts of the client's case, clarifies what the client wants to accomplish, shapes the client's expectations as to what actually can be accomplished, begins to develop various claims or defenses, and explains his or her fees to the client.[35][36] In England, only solicitors were traditionally in direct contact with the client.[37] The solicitor retained a barrister if one was necessary and acted as an intermediary between the barrister and the client.[38] In most cases a barrister would be obliged, under what is known as the "cab rank rule", to accept instructions for a case in an area in which they held themselves out as practising, at a court at which they normally appeared and at their usual rates.[39][40] [edit] Legal advice Main article: Legal advice Legal advice is the application of abstract principles of law to the concrete facts of the client's case in order to advise the client about what they should do next. In many countries, only a properly licensed lawyer may provide legal advice to clients for good consideration, even if no lawsuit is contemplated or is in progress.[41][42][43] Therefore, even conveyancers and corporate in-house counsel must first get a license to practice, though they may actually spend very little of their careers in court. Failure to obey such a rule is the crime of unauthorized practice of law.[44] In other countries, jurists who hold law degrees are allowed to provide legal advice to individuals or to corporations, and it is irrelevant if they lack a license and cannot appear in court.[45][46] Some countries go further; in England and Wales, there is no general prohibition on the giving of legal advice.[47] Sometimes civil law notaries are allowed to give legal advice, as in Belgium.[48] In many countries, non-jurist accountants may provide what is technically legal advice in tax and accounting matters.[49] [edit] Protecting intellectual property In virtually all countries, patents, trademarks, industrial designs and other forms of intellectual property must be formally registered with a government agency in order to receive maximum protection under the law. The division of such work among lawyers, licensed non-lawyer jurists/agents, and ordinary clerks or scriveners varies greatly from one country to the next.[32][50] [edit] Negotiating and drafting contracts In some countries, the negotiating and drafting of contracts is considered to be similar to the provision of legal advice, so that it is subject to the licensing requirement explained above.[51] In others, jurists or notaries may negotiate or draft contracts.[52] Lawyers in some civil law countries traditionally deprecated "transactional law" or "business law" as beneath them. French law firms developed transactional departments only in the 1990s when they started to lose business to international firms based in the United States and the United Kingdom (where solicitors have always done transactional work).[53] [edit] Conveyancing Conveyancing is the drafting of the documents necessary for the transfer of real property, such as deeds and mortgages. In some jurisdictions, all real estate transactions must be carried out by a lawyer (or a solicitor where that distinction still exists).[54] Such a monopoly is quite valuable from the lawyer's point of view; historically, conveyancing accounted for about half of English solicitors' income (though this has since changed),[55] and a 1978 study showed that conveyancing "accounts for as much as 80 percent of solicitor-client contact in New South Wales."[56] In most common law jurisdictions outside of the United States, this monopoly arose from an 1804 law[57] that was introduced by William Pitt the Younger as a quid pro quo for the raising of fees on the certification of legal professionals such as barristers, solicitors, attorneys and notaries.[58] In others, the use of a lawyer is optional and banks, title companies, or realtors may be used instead.[59] In some civil law jurisdictions, real estate transactions are handled by civil law notaries.[60] In England and Wales a special class of legal professional?the licensed conveyancer?is also allowed to carry out conveyancing services for reward.[61] [edit] Carrying out the intent of the deceased In many countries, only lawyers have the legal authority to draft wills, trusts, and any other documents that ensure the efficient disposition of a person's property after death. In some civil law countries this responsibility is handled by civil law notaries.[52] In the United States, the estates of the deceased must generally be administered by a court through probate. American lawyers have a profitable monopoly on dispensing advice about probate law (which has been heavily criticized).[62] [edit] Prosecution and defense of criminal suspects In many civil law countries, prosecutors are trained and employed as part of the judiciary; they are law-trained jurists, but may not necessarily be lawyers in the sense that the word is used in the common law world.[63] In common law countries, prosecutors are usually lawyers holding regular licenses who simply happen to work for the government office that files criminal charges against suspects. Criminal defense lawyers specialize in the defense of those charged with any crimes.[64] [edit] Education Main article: Legal education The educational prerequisites to becoming a lawyer vary greatly from country to country. In some countries, law is taught by a faculty of law, which is a department of a university's general undergraduate college.[65] Law students in those countries pursue a Master or Bachelor of Laws degree. In some countries it is common or even required for students to earn another bachelor's degree at the same time. Nor is the LL.B the sole obstacle; it is often followed by a series of advanced examinations, apprenticeships, and additional coursework at special government institutes.[66] In other countries, particularly the United States, law is primarily taught at law schools. In the United States[67] and countries following the American model, (such as Canada[68] with the exception of the province of Quebec) law schools are graduate/professional schools where a bachelor's degree is a prerequisite for admission. Most law schools are part of universities but a few are independent institutions. Law schools in the United States (and many in Canada and elsewhere) award graduating students a J.D. (Juris Doctor/Doctor of Jurisprudence) (as opposed to the Bachelor of Laws) as the practitioner's law degree. Many schools also offer post-doctoral law degrees such as the LL.M (Legum Magister/Master of Laws), or the S.J.D. (Scientiae Juridicae Doctor/Doctor of Juridical Science) for students interested in advancing their research knowledge and credentials in a specific area of law.[69] The methods and quality of legal education vary widely. Some countries require extensive clinical training in the form of apprenticeships or special clinical courses.[70] Others do not, like Venezuela.[71] A few countries prefer to teach through assigned readings of judicial opinions (the casebook method) followed by intense in-class cross-examination by the professor (the Socratic method).[72][73] Many others have only lectures on highly abstract legal doctrines, which forces young lawyers to figure out how to actually think and write like a lawyer at their first apprenticeship (or job).[74][75][76] Depending upon the country, a typical class size could range from five students in a seminar to five hundred in a giant lecture room. In the United States, law schools maintain small class sizes, and as such, grant admissions on a more limited and competitive basis.[77] Some countries, particularly industrialized ones, have a traditional preference for full-time law programs,[78] while in developing countries, students often work full- or part-time to pay the tuition and fees of their part-time law programs.[79][80] Law schools in developing countries share several common problems, such as an overreliance on practicing judges and lawyers who treat teaching as a part-time hobby (and a concomitant scarcity of full-time law professors);[81][82] incompetent faculty with questionable credentials;[83] and textbooks that lag behind the current state of the law by two or three decades.[81][84] [edit] Earning the right to practice law Main article: Admission to practice law Some jurisdictions grant a "diploma privilege" to certain institutions, so that merely earning a degree or credential from those institutions is the primary qualification for practicing law.[85] Mexico allows anyone with a law degree to practice law.[86] However, in a large number of countries, a law student must pass a bar examination (or a series of such examinations) before receiving a license to practice.[85][87][88] In a handful of U.S. states, one may become an attorney (a so-called country lawyer) by simply "reading law" and passing the bar examination, without having to attend law school first (although very few people actually become lawyers that way).[89] Some countries require a formal apprenticeship with an experienced practitioner, while others do not.[90] For example, a few jurisdictions still allow an apprenticeship in place of any kind of formal legal education (though the number of persons who actually become lawyers that way is increasingly rare).[91] [edit] Career structure U.S. President Abraham Lincoln is a famous example of a lawyer-turned-politician. The career structure of lawyers varies widely from one country to the next. [edit] Common law/civil law In most common law countries, especially those with fused professions, lawyers have many options over the course of their careers. Besides private practice, they can become a prosecutor, government counsel, corporate in-house counsel, administrative law judge, judge, arbitrator, law professor, or politician.[92] There are also many non-legal jobs which legal training is good preparation for, such as corporate executive, government administrator, investment banker, entrepreneur, or journalist.[93] In developing countries like India, a large majority of law students never actually practice, but simply use their law degree as a foundation for careers in other fields.[94] In most civil law countries, lawyers generally structure their legal education around their chosen specialty; the boundaries between different types of lawyers are carefully defined and hard to cross. After one earns a law degree, career mobility may be severely constrained.[95] For example, unlike their American counterparts,[96] it is difficult for German judges to leave the bench and become advocates in private practice.[97] Another interesting example is France, where for much of the 20th century, all magistrates were graduates of an elite professional school for judges. Although the French magistracy has begun experimenting with the Anglo-American model of appointing judges from accomplished advocates, the few advocates who have actually joined the bench this way are looked down upon by their colleagues who have taken the traditional route to magistracy.[98] In a few civil law countries, such as Sweden,[99] the legal profession is not rigorously bifurcated and everyone within it can easily change roles and arenas. [edit] Specialization In many countries, lawyers are general practitioners who will take almost any kind of case that walks in the door.[100] In others, there has been a tendency since the start of the 20th century for lawyers to specialize early in their careers.[101][102] In countries where specialization is prevalent, many lawyers specialize in representing one side in one particular area of the law; thus, it is common in the United States to hear of plaintiffs' personal injury attorneys.[103] [edit] Organization Main article: Law firm Lawyers in private practice generally work in specialized businesses known as law firms,[104] with the exception of English barristers. The vast majority of law firms worldwide are small businesses that range in size from 1 to 10 lawyers.[105] The United States, with its large number of firms with more than 50 lawyers, is an exception.[106] The United Kingdom and Australia are also exceptions, as the UK, Australia and the U.S. are now home to several firms with more than 1,000 lawyers after a wave of mergers in the late 1990s. Notably, barristers in England and Wales and some states in Australia do not work in "law firms". Those who offer their services to the general public?as opposed to those working "in house"?are required to be self-employed.[107] Most work in groupings known as "sets" or "chambers", where some administrative and marketing costs are shared. An important effect of this different organizational structure is that there is no conflict of interest where barristers in the same chambers work for opposing sides in a case, and in some specialised chambers this is commonplace. [edit] Professional associations and regulation [edit] Mandatory licensing and membership in professional organizations In some jurisdictions, either the judiciary[108] or the Ministry of Justice[109] directly supervises the admission, licensing, and regulation of lawyers. Other jurisdictions, by statute, tradition, or court order, have granted such powers to a professional association which all lawyers must belong to.[110] In the U.S., such associations are known as mandatory, integrated, or unified bar associations. In the Commonwealth of Nations, similar organizations are known as Inns of Court, bar councils or law societies.[111] In civil law countries, comparable organizations are known as Orders of Advocates,[112] Chambers of Advocates,[113] Colleges of Advocates,[114] Faculties of Advocates,[115] or similar names. Generally, a nonmember caught practicing law may be liable for the crime of unauthorized practice of law.[116] In common law countries with divided legal professions, barristers traditionally belong to the bar council (or an Inn of Court) and solicitors belong to the law society. In the English-speaking world, the largest mandatory professional association of lawyers is the State Bar of California, with 200,000 members. Some countries admit and regulate lawyers at the national level, so that a lawyer, once licensed, can argue cases in any court in the land. This is common in small countries like New Zealand, Japan, and Belgium.[117] Others, especially those with federal governments, tend to regulate lawyers at the state or provincial level; this is the case in the United States,[118] Canada,[119] Australia,[120] and Switzerland,[121] to name a few. Brazil is the most well-known federal government that regulates lawyers at the national level.[122] Some countries, like Italy, regulate lawyers at the regional level,[123] and a few, like Belgium, even regulate them at the local level (that is, they are licensed and regulated by the local equivalent of bar associations but can advocate in courts nationwide).[124] In Germany, lawyers are admitted to regional bars and may appear for clients before all courts nationwide with the exception of the Federal Court of Justice of Germany (Bundesgerichtshof or BGH); oddly, securing admission to the BGH's bar limits a lawyer's practice solely to the supreme federal courts and the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany.[125] Generally, geographic limitations can be troublesome for a lawyer who discovers that his client's cause requires him to litigate in a court beyond the normal geographic scope of his license. Although most courts have special pro hac vice rules for such occasions, the lawyer will still have to deal with a different set of professional responsibility rules, as well as the possibility of other differences in substantive and procedural law. Some countries grant licenses to non-resident lawyers, who may then appear regularly on behalf of foreign clients. Others require all lawyers to live in the jurisdiction or to even hold national citizenship as a prerequisite for receiving a license to practice. But the trend in industrialized countries since the 1970s has been to abolish citizenship and residency restrictions. For example, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down a citizenship requirement on equality rights grounds in 1989,[126] and similarly, American citizenship and residency requirements were struck down as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 and 1985, respectively.[127] The European Court of Justice made similar decisions in 1974 and 1977 striking down citizenship restrictions in Belgium and France.[128] [edit] Who regulates lawyers A key difference among countries is whether lawyers should be regulated solely by an independent judiciary and its subordinate institutions (a self-regulating legal profession),[129] or whether lawyers should be subject to supervision by the Ministry of Justice in the executive branch. In most civil law countries, the government has traditionally exercised tight control over the legal profession in order to ensure a steady supply of loyal judges and bureaucrats. That is, lawyers were expected first and foremost to serve the state, and the availability of counsel for private litigants was an afterthought.[130] Even in civil law countries like Norway which have partially self-regulating professions, the Ministry of Justice is the sole issuer of licenses, and makes its own independent re-evaluation of a lawyer's fitness to practice after a lawyer has been expelled from the Advocates' Association.[109] Brazil is an unusual exception in that its national Order of Advocates has become a fully self-regulating institution (with direct control over licensing) and has successfully resisted government attempts to place it under the control of the Ministry of Labor.[131][132] Of all the civil law countries, Communist countries historically went the farthest towards total state control, with all Communist lawyers forced to practice in collectives by the mid-1950s.[133][134] China is a prime example: technically, the People's Republic of China did not have lawyers, and instead had only poorly-trained, state-employed "legal workers," prior to the enactment of a comprehensive reform package in 1996 by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.[135] In contrast, common law lawyers have traditionally regulated themselves through institutions where the influence of non-lawyers, if any, was weak and indirect (despite nominal state control).[136] Such institutions have been traditionally dominated by private practitioners who opposed strong state control of the profession on the grounds that it would endanger the ability of lawyers to zealously and competently advocate their clients' causes in the adversarial system of justice.[137] However, the concept of the self-regulating profession has been criticized as a sham which serves to legitimize the professional monopoly while protecting the profession from public scrutiny.[138] Disciplinary mechanisms have been astonishingly ineffective, and penalties have been light or nonexistent.[139][140][141] [edit] Voluntary associations of lawyers Lawyers are always free to form voluntary associations of their own, apart from any licensing or mandatory membership that may be required by the laws of their jurisdiction. Like their mandatory counterparts, such organizations may exist at all geographic levels.[86][142] In American English, such associations are known as voluntary bar associations.[143] The largest voluntary professional association of lawyers in the English-speaking world is the American Bar Association. In some countries, like France and Italy, lawyers have also formed trade unions.[144] [edit] Cultural perception of lawyers Hostility towards the legal profession is a widespread phenomenon. The legal profession was abolished in Prussia in 1780 and in France in 1789, though both countries eventually realized that their judicial systems could not function efficiently without lawyers.[145] Complaints about too many lawyers were common in both England and the United States in the 1840s[146][147] Germany in the 1910s,[148] and in Australia,[149] Canada,[150] the United States,[151][152][153] and Scotland[154] in the 1980s. Public distrust of lawyers reached record heights in the United States after the Watergate scandal.[153][155] In the aftermath of Watergate, legal self-help books became popular among those who wished to solve their legal problems without having to deal with lawyers.[156] Lawyer jokes (already a perennial favorite) also soared in popularity in English-speaking North America as a result of Watergate.[157] In 1989, American legal self-help publisher Nolo Press published a 171-page compilation of negative anecdotes about lawyers from throughout human history.[158] In Adventures in Law and Justice (2003), legal researcher Bryan Horrigan dedicated a chapter to "Myths, Fictions, and Realities" about law and illustrated the perennial criticism of lawyers as "amoral [...] guns for hire"[159] with a quote from Ambrose Bierce's satirical The Devil's Dictionary (1911) that summarized the noun as: "LAWYER, n. One skilled in circumvention of the law."[160] More generally, in Legal Ethics: A Comparative Study (2004), law professor Geoffrey C. Hazard, Jr. with Angelo Dondi briefly examined the "regulations attempting to suppress lawyer misconduct" and noted that their similarity around the world was paralleled by a "remarkable consistency" in certain "persistant grievances" about lawyers that transcends both time and locale, from the Bible to medieval England to dynastic China.[161] The authors then generalized these common complaints about lawyers as being classified into five "general categories" as follows: ? * abuse of litigation in various ways, including using dilatory tactics and false evidence and making frivolous arguments to the courts; * preparation of false documentation, such as false deeds, contracts, or wills; * deceiving clients and other persons and misappropriating property; * procrastination in dealings with clients; and * charging excessive fees.[161] ? [edit] Compensation Main article: Attorney's fee Lawyers are paid for their work in a variety of ways. In private practice, they may work for an hourly fee according to a billable hour structure,[162] a contingency fee[163] (usually in cases involving personal injury), or a lump sum payment if the matter is straightforward. Normally, most lawyers negotiate a written fee agreement up front and may require a non-refundable retainer in advance. In many countries there are fee-shifting arrangements by which the loser must pay the winner's fees and costs; the United States is the major exception,[164] although in turn, its legislators have carved out many exceptions to the so-called "American Rule" of no fee shifting. Lawyers working directly on the payroll of governments, nonprofits, and corporations usually earn a regular annual salary.[165] In many countries, with the notable exception of Germany,[166] lawyers can also volunteer their labor in the service of worthy causes through an arrangement called pro bono (for the common good).[167] Traditionally such work was performed on behalf of the poor, but in some countries it has now expanded to many other causes such as the environment. In some countries, there are legal aid lawyers who specialize in providing legal services to the indigent.[168][169] France and Spain even have formal fee structures by which lawyers are compensated by the government for legal aid cases on a per-case basis.[170] A similar system, though not as extensive or generous, operates in Australia, Canada, as well as South Africa.[citation needed] In other countries, legal aid specialists are practically nonexistent. This may be because non-lawyers are allowed to provide such services; in both Italy and Belgium, trade unions and political parties provide what can be characterized as legal aid services.[171] Some legal aid in Belgium is also provided by young lawyer apprentices subsidized by local bar associations (known as the pro deo system), as well as consumer protection nonprofit organizations and Public Assistance Agencies subsidized by local governments.[172] In Germany, mandatory fee structures have enabled widespread implementation of affordable legal expense insurance.[173] [edit] History Main article: History of the legal profession 16th century painting of a civil law notary, by Flemish painter Quentin Massys. A civil law notary is roughly analogous to a common law solicitor, except that, unlike solicitors, civil law notaries do not practice litigation to any degree. [edit] Ancient Greece The earliest people who could be described as "lawyers" were probably the orators of ancient Athens (see History of Athens). However, Athenian orators faced serious structural obstacles. First, there was a rule that individuals were supposed to plead their own cases, which was soon bypassed by the increasing tendency of individuals to ask a "friend" for assistance.[174] However, around the middle of the fourth century, the Athenians disposed of the perfunctory request for a friend.[175] Second, a more serious obstacle, which the Athenian orators never completely overcame, was the rule that no one could take a fee to plead the cause of another. This law was widely disregarded in practice, but was never abolished, which meant that orators could never present themselves as legal professionals or experts.[176] They had to uphold the legal fiction that they were merely an ordinary citizen generously helping out a friend for free, and thus they could never organize into a real profession?with professional associations and titles and all the other pomp and circumstance?like their modern counterparts.[177] Therefore, if one narrows the definition to those men who could practice the legal profession openly and legally, then the first lawyers would have to be the orators of ancient Rome.[178] [edit] Early Ancient Rome A law enacted in 204 BC barred Roman advocates from taking fees, but the law was widely ignored.[179] The ban on fees was abolished by Emperor Claudius, who legalized advocacy as a profession and allowed the Roman advocates to become the first lawyers who could practice openly?but he also imposed a fee ceiling of 10,000 sesterces.[180] This was apparently not much money; the Satires of Juvenal complain that there was no money in working as an advocate.[181] Like their Greek contemporaries, early Roman advocates were trained in rhetoric, not law, and the judges before whom they argued were also not law-trained.[182] But very early on, unlike Athens, Rome developed a class of specialists who were learned in the law, known as jurisconsults (iuris consulti).[183] Jurisconsults were wealthy amateurs who dabbled in law as an intellectual hobby; they did not make their primary living from it.[183] They gave legal opinions (responsa) on legal issues to all comers (a practice known as publice respondere).[184] Roman judges and governors would routinely consult with an advisory panel of jurisconsults before rendering a decision, and advocates and ordinary people also went to jurisconsults for legal opinions.[183] Thus, the Romans were the first to have a class of people who spent their days thinking about legal problems, and this is why their law became so "precise, detailed, and technical."[183] [edit] Late Ancient Rome During the Roman Republic and the early Roman Empire, jurisconsults and advocates were unregulated, since the former were amateurs and the latter were technically illegal.[185] Any citizen could call himself an advocate or a legal expert, though whether people believed him would depend upon his personal reputation. This changed once Claudius legalized the legal profession. By the start of the Byzantine Empire, the legal profession had become well-established, heavily regulated, and highly stratified.[186] The centralization and bureaucratization of the profession was apparently gradual at first, but accelerated during the reign of Emperor Hadrian.[187] At the same time, the jurisconsults went into decline during the imperial period.[188] In the words of Fritz Schulz, "by the fourth century things had changed in the eastern Empire: advocates now were really lawyers."[189] For example, by the fourth century, advocates had to be enrolled on the bar of a court to argue before it, they could only be attached to one court at a time, and there were restrictions (which came and went depending upon who was emperor) on how many advocates could be enrolled at a particular court.[190] By the 380s, advocates were studying law in addition to rhetoric (thus reducing the need for a separate class of jurisconsults); in 460, Emperor Leo imposed a requirement that new advocates seeking admission had to produce testimonials from their teachers; and by the sixth century, a regular course of legal study lasting about four years was required for admission.[191] Claudius's fee ceiling lasted all the way into the Byzantine period, though by then it was measured at 100 solidi.[192] Of course, it was widely evaded, either through demands for maintenance and expenses or a sub rosa barter transaction.[192] The latter was cause for disbarment.[192] The notaries (tabelliones) appeared in the late Roman Empire. Like their modern-day descendants, the civil law notaries, they were responsible for drafting wills, conveyances, and contracts.[193] They were ubiquitous and most villages had one.[193] In Roman times, notaries were widely considered to be inferior to advocates and jurisconsults.[193] Roman notaries were not law-trained; they were barely literate hacks who wrapped the simplest transactions in mountains of legal jargon, since they were paid by the line.[194] [edit] Middle Ages After the fall of the western Empire and the onset of the Dark Ages, the legal profession of Western Europe collapsed. As James Brundage has explained: "[by 1140], no one in Western Europe could properly be described as a professional lawyer or a professional canonist in anything like the modern sense of the term 'professional.' "[195] However, from 1150 onward, a small but increasing number of men became experts in canon law but only in furtherance of other occupational goals, such as serving the Roman Catholic Church as priests.[196] From 1190 to 1230, however, there was a crucial shift in which some men began to practice canon law as a lifelong profession in itself.[197] The legal profession's return was marked by the renewed efforts of church and state to regulate it. In 1231 two French councils mandated that lawyers had to swear an oath of admission before practicing before the bishop's courts in their regions, and a similar oath was promulgated by the papal legate in London in 1237.[198] During the same decade, Frederick II, the emperor of the Kingdom of Sicily, imposed a similar oath in his civil courts.[199] By 1250 the nucleus of a new legal profession had clearly formed.[200] The new trend towards professionalization culminated in a controversial proposal at the Second Council of Lyon in 1275 that all ecclesiastical courts should require an oath of admission.[201] Although not adopted by the council, it was highly influential in many such courts throughout Europe.[201] The civil courts in England also joined the trend towards professionalization; in 1275 a statute was enacted that prescribed punishment for professional lawyers guilty of deceit, and in 1280 the mayor's court of the city of London promulgated regulations concerning admission procedures, including the administering of an oath.[202] [edit] Titles Generally speaking, the modern practice is for lawyers to avoid use of any title, although formal practice varies across the world. Historically lawyers in most European countries were addressed with the title of doctor, and countries outside of Europe have generally followed the practice of the European country which had policy influence through "modernization" or "colonialization." The first university degrees, starting with the law school of the University of Bologna (or glossators) in the 11th century, were all law degrees and doctorates.[203] Degrees in other fields did not start until the 13th century, but the doctor continued to be the only degree offered at many of the old universities until the 20th century. Therefore, in many of the southern European countries, including Portugal, Spain and Italy,,[204] lawyers have traditionally been addressed as ?doctor,? a practice which was transferred to many countries in South America[205] (including Macau in China).[206] Because the law degrees are no longer doctorate level degrees, the formal ?doctor? title for lawyers is either seen as archaic or incorrect, although it is still a legal title in Italy and in use in many countries outside of Europe.[207] The title of doctor has never been used to address lawyers in England or other common law countries (with the exception of the United States). This is because until 1846 lawyers in England were not required to have a university degree and were trained by other attorneys by apprenticeship or in the Inns of Court.[208] Since law degrees started to become a requirement for lawyers in England, the degree awarded has been the undergraduate LL.B. Even though most lawyers in the United States do not use any titles, the law degree in that country is the Juris Doctor, a professional doctorate degree,[209] and some J.D. holders in the United States use the title of "Doctor" in professional[210] and academic situations.[211] In countries where holders of the first law degree traditionally use the title of doctor (e.g. Peru, Brazil, Macau, Portugal, Argentina, and Italy),[212] J.D. holders who are attorneys will often use the title of doctor as well.[213] It is not uncommon for English-language lawyers, especially in the United States, to use the honorific suffix "Esq." (for "Esquire"), irrespective of whether the lawyer is male or female.[214] In many Asian countries, the proper title for a lawyer is simply, "lawyer", but holders of the Juris Doctor degree are also called "??" (doctor). Myocardial infarction Myocardial infarction (MI) or acute myocardial infarction (AMI), commonly known as a heart attack, is the interruption of blood supply to part of the heart, causing some heart cells to die. This is most commonly due to occlusion (blockage) of a coronary artery following the rupture of a vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque, which is an unstable collection of lipids (like cholesterol) and white blood cells (especially macrophages) in the wall of an artery. The resulting ischemia (restriction in blood supply) and oxygen shortage, if left untreated for a sufficient period of time, can cause damage or death (infarction) of heart muscle tissue (myocardium). Classical symptoms of acute myocardial infarction include sudden chest pain (typically radiating to the left arm or left side of the neck), shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, palpitations, sweating, and anxiety (often described as a sense of impending doom). Women may experience fewer typical symptoms than men, most commonly shortness of breath, weakness, a feeling of indigestion, and fatigue.[1] Approximately one quarter of all myocardial infarctions are silent, without chest pain or other symptoms. A heart attack is a medical emergency, and people experiencing chest pain are advised to alert their emergency medical services because prompt protection with an external defibrillator can save your life from primary ventricular fibrillation which occurs unexpectedly in 10% of all myocardial infarctions especially during the first hours of symptoms. Contemporary treatment of many myocardial infarctions can result in survival and even good outcomes. While it is true that certain less amenable cases are very massive and rapidly fatal "widowmakers", it is also true that in small attacks with limited damage and optimal treatment the heart muscle can be salvaged. Heart attacks are the leading cause of death for both men and women all over the world.[2] Important risk factors are previous cardiovascular disease (such as angina, a previous heart attack or stroke), older age (especially men over 40 and women over 50), tobacco smoking, high blood levels of certain lipids (triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein or "bad cholesterol") and low levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL, "good cholesterol"), diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, chronic kidney disease, heart failure, excessive alcohol consumption, the abuse of certain drugs (such as cocaine and methamphetamine), and chronic high stress levels.[3][4] Immediate treatment for suspected acute myocardial infarction includes oxygen, aspirin, and sublingual glyceryl trinitrate (colloquially referred to as nitroglycerin and abbreviated as NTG or GTN). Pain relief is also often given, classically morphine sulfate.[5] However, a 2009 review about the use of high flow oxygen for treating myocardial infarction found its administration increased mortality and infarct size, calling into question the recommendation for its routine use.[6] The patient will receive a number of diagnostic tests, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG), a chest X-ray and blood tests to detect elevations in cardiac markers (blood tests to detect heart muscle damage). The most often used markers are the creatine kinase-MB (CK-MB) fraction and the troponin I (TnI) or troponin T (TnT) levels. On the basis of the ECG, a distinction is made between ST elevation MI (STEMI) or non-ST elevation MI (NSTEMI). Most cases of STEMI are treated with thrombolysis or if possible with percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI, angioplasty and stent insertion), provided the hospital has facilities for coronary angiography. NSTEMI is managed with medication, although PCI is often performed during hospital admission. In patients who have multiple blockages and who are relatively stable, or in a few extraordinary emergency cases, bypass surgery of the blocked coronary artery is an option. The phrase "heart attack" is sometimes used incorrectly to describe sudden cardiac death, which may or may not be the result of acute myocardial infarction. A heart attack is different from, but can be the cause of cardiac arrest, which is the stopping of the heartbeat, and cardiac arrhythmia, an abnormal heartbeat. It is also distinct from heart failure, in which the pumping action of the heart is impaired; severe myocardial infarction may lead to heart failure, but not necessarily. Classification There are two basic types of acute myocardial infarction, (1) transmural MI- IS associated with atherosclerosis involving major coronary artery. It can be subclassified into anterior,posterior or inferior. (2) subendocardial MI- involves small area, in the subendocardial wall of the left ventricle,ventricular septum,papillary muscles. Clinically, myocardial infarction is further subclassified into ST elevation MI versus non ST elevation MI based on ECG changes. [edit] Signs and symptoms Rough diagram of pain zones in myocardial infarction (dark red = most typical area, light red = other possible areas, view of the chest). Back view. The onset of symptoms in myocardial infarction (MI) is usually gradual, over several minutes, and rarely instantaneous.[7] Chest pain is the most common symptom of acute myocardial infarction and is often described as a sensation of tightness, pressure, or squeezing. Chest pain due to ischemia (a lack of blood and hence oxygen supply) of the heart muscle is termed angina pectoris. Pain radiates most often to the left arm, but may also radiate to the lower jaw, neck, right arm, back, and epigastrium, where it may mimic heartburn. Levine's sign, in which the patient localizes the chest pain by clenching their fist over the sternum, has classically been thought to be predictive of cardiac chest pain, although a prospective observational study showed that it had a poor positive predictive value.[8] Shortness of breath (dyspnea) occurs when the damage to the heart limits the output of the left ventricle, causing left ventricular failure and consequent pulmonary edema. Other symptoms include diaphoresis (an excessive form of sweating), weakness, light-headedness, nausea, vomiting, and palpitations. These symptoms are likely induced by a massive surge of catecholamines from the sympathetic nervous system[9] which occurs in response to pain and the hemodynamic abnormalities that result from cardiac dysfunction. Loss of consciousness (due to inadequate cerebral perfusion and cardiogenic shock) and even sudden death (frequently due to the development of ventricular fibrillation) can occur in myocardial infarctions. Women and older patients experience atypical symptoms more frequently than their male and younger counterparts.[10] Women also have more symptoms compared to men (2.6 on average vs 1.8 symptoms in men).[10] The most common symptoms of MI in women include dyspnea, weakness, and fatigue. Fatigue, sleep disturbances, and dyspnea have been reported as frequently occurring symptoms which may manifest as long as one month before the actual clinically manifested ischemic event. In women, chest pain may be less predictive of coronary ischemia than in men.[11] Approximately half of all MI patients have experienced warning symptoms such as chest pain prior to the infarction.[12] Approximately one fourth of all myocardial infarctions are silent, without chest pain or other symptoms.[13] These cases can be discovered later on electrocardiograms or at autopsy without a prior history of related complaints. A silent course is more common in the elderly, in patients with diabetes mellitus[14] and after heart transplantation, probably because the donor heart is not connected to nerves of the host.[15] In diabetics, differences in pain threshold, autonomic neuropathy, and psychological factors have been cited as possible explanations for the lack of symptoms.[14] Any group of symptoms compatible with a sudden interruption of the blood flow to the heart are called an acute coronary syndrome.[16] The differential diagnosis includes other catastrophic causes of chest pain, such as pulmonary embolism, aortic dissection, pericardial effusion causing cardiac tamponade, tension pneumothorax, and esophageal rupture.[17] [edit] Causes and risk factors Heart attack rates are higher in association with intense exertion, be it psychological stress or physical exertion, especially if the exertion is more intense than the individual usually performs.[18] Quantitatively, the period of intense exercise and subsequent recovery is associated with about a 6-fold higher myocardial infarction rate (compared with other more relaxed time frames) for people who are physically very fit.[18] For those in poor physical condition, the rate differential is over 35-fold higher.[18] One observed mechanism for this phenomenon is the increased arterial pulse pressure stretching and relaxation of arteries with each heart beat which, as has been observed with intravascular ultrasound, increases mechanical "shear stress" on atheromas and the likelihood of plaque rupture.[18] Acute severe infection, such as pneumonia, can trigger myocardial infarction. A more controversial link is that between Chlamydophila pneumoniae infection and atherosclerosis.[19] While this intracellular organism has been demonstrated in atherosclerotic plaques, evidence is inconclusive as to whether it can be considered a causative factor.[19] Treatment with antibiotics in patients with proven atherosclerosis has not demonstrated a decreased risk of heart attacks or other coronary vascular diseases.[20] There is an association of an increased incidence of a heart attack in the morning hours, more specifically around 9 a.m. [21][22][23]. Some investigators have noticed that the ability of platelets to aggregate varies according to a circadian rhythm, although they have not proven causation.[24] Some investigators theorize that this increased incidence may be related to the circadian variation in cortisol production affecting the concentrations of various cytokines and other mediators of inflammation.[25] [edit] Risk factors Risk factors for atherosclerosis are generally risk factors for myocardial infarction: * Diabetes (with or without insulin resistance) - the single most important risk factor for ischaemic heart disease (IHD) * Tobacco smoking * Hypercholesterolemia (more accurately hyperlipoproteinemia, especially high low density lipoprotein and low high density lipoprotein) * High blood pressure * Family history of ischaemic heart disease (IHD) * Obesity[26] (defined by a body mass index of more than 30 kg/m?, or alternatively by waist circumference or waist-hip ratio). * Age Men acquire an independent risk factor at age 45, Women acquire an independent risk factor at age 55; in addition individuals acquire another independent risk factor if they have a first-degree male relative (brother,father)who suffered a coronary vascular event at or before age 55. Another independent risk factor is acquired if one has a first-degree female relative (mother,sister) who suffered a coronary vascular event at age 65 or younger. * Hyperhomocysteinemia (high homocysteine, a toxic blood amino acid that is elevated when intakes of vitamins B2, B6, B12 and folic acid are insufficient) * Stress (occupations with high stress index are known to have susceptibility for atherosclerosis) * Alcohol Studies show that prolonged exposure to high quantities of alcohol can increase the risk of heart attack Males are more at risk than females.[18] Many of these risk factors are modifiable, so many heart attacks can be prevented by maintaining a healthier lifestyle. Physical activity, for example, is associated with a lower risk profile.[27] Non-modifiable risk factors include age, sex, and family history of an early heart attack (before the age of 60), which is thought of as reflecting a genetic predisposition.[18] Socioeconomic factors such as a shorter education and lower income (particularly in women), and unmarried cohabitation may also contribute to the risk of MI.[28] To understand epidemiological study results, it's important to note that many factors associated with MI mediate their risk via other factors. For example, the effect of education is partially based on its effect on income and marital status.[28] Women who use combined oral contraceptive pills have a modestly increased risk of myocardial infarction, especially in the presence of other risk factors, such as smoking.[29] Inflammation is known to be an important step in the process of atherosclerotic plaque formation.[30] C-reactive protein (CRP) is a sensitive but non-specific marker for inflammation. Elevated CRP blood levels, especially measured with high sensitivity assays, can predict the risk of MI, as well as stroke and development of diabetes.[30] Moreover, some drugs for MI might also reduce CRP levels.[30] The use of high sensitivity CRP assays as a means of screening the general population is advised against, but it may be used optionally at the physician's discretion, in patients who already present with other risk factors or known coronary artery disease.[31] Whether CRP plays a direct role in atherosclerosis remains uncertain.[30] Inflammation in periodontal disease may be linked coronary heart disease, and since periodontitis is very common, this could have great consequences for public health.[32] Serological studies measuring antibody levels against typical periodontitis-causing bacteria found that such antibodies were more present in subjects with coronary heart disease.[33] Periodontitis tends to increase blood levels of CRP, fibrinogen and cytokines;[34] thus, periodontitis may mediate its effect on MI risk via other risk factors.[35] Preclinical research suggests that periodontal bacteria can promote aggregation of platelets and promote the formation of foam cells.[36][37] A role for specific periodontal bacteria has been suggested but remains to be established.[38] Baldness, hair greying, a diagonal earlobe crease (Frank's sign[39]) and possibly other skin features have been suggested as independent risk factors for MI.[40] Their role remains controversial; a common denominator of these signs and the risk of MI is supposed, possibly genetic. [41] Calcium deposition is another part of atherosclerotic plaque formation. Calcium deposits in the coronary arteries can be detected with CT scans. Several studies have shown that coronary calcium can provide predictive information beyond that of classical risk factors.[42][43][44] [edit] Pathophysiology A myocardial infarction occurs when an atherosclerotic plaque slowly builds up in the inner lining of a coronary artery and then suddenly ruptures, totally occluding the artery and preventing blood flow downstream. Main article: Acute coronary syndrome Acute myocardial infarction refers to two subtypes of acute coronary syndrome, namely non-ST-elevated myocardial infarction and ST-elevated myocardial infarction, which are most frequently (but not always) a manifestation of coronary artery disease. The most common triggering event is the disruption of an atherosclerotic plaque in an epicardial coronary artery, which leads to a clotting cascade, sometimes resulting in total occlusion of the artery. Atherosclerosis is the gradual buildup of cholesterol and fibrous tissue in plaques in the wall of arteries (in this case, the coronary arteries), typically over decades. Blood stream column irregularities visible on angiography reflect artery lumen narrowing as a result of decades of advancing atherosclerosis. Plaques can become unstable, rupture, and additionally promote a thrombus (blood clot) that occludes the artery; this can occur in minutes. When a severe enough plaque rupture occurs in the coronary vasculature, it leads to myocardial infarction (necrosis of downstream myocardium). If impaired blood flow to the heart lasts long enough, it triggers a process called the ischemic cascade; the heart cells in the territory of the occluded coronary artery die (chiefly through necrosis) and do not grow back. A collagen scar forms in its place. Recent studies indicate that another form of cell death called apoptosis also plays a role in the process of tissue damage subsequent to myocardial infarction.[45] As a result, the patient's heart will be permanently damaged. This Myocardial scarring also puts the patient at risk for potentially life threatening arrhythmias, and may result in the formation of a ventricular aneurysm that can rupture with catastrophic consequences. Injured heart tissue conducts electrical impulses more slowly than normal heart tissue. The difference in conduction velocity between injured and uninjured tissue can trigger re-entry or a feedback loop that is believed to be the cause of many lethal arrhythmias. The most serious of these arrhythmias is ventricular fibrillation (V-Fib/VF), an extremely fast and chaotic heart rhythm that is the leading cause of sudden cardiac death. Another life threatening arrhythmia is ventricular tachycardia (V-Tach/VT), which may or may not cause sudden cardiac death. However, ventricular tachycardia usually results in rapid heart rates that prevent the heart from pumping blood effectively. Cardiac output and blood pressure may fall to dangerous levels, which can lead to further coronary ischemia and extension of the infarct. The cardiac defibrillator is a device that was specifically designed to terminate these potentially fatal arrhythmias. The device works by delivering an electrical shock to the patient in order to depolarize a critical mass of the heart muscle, in effect "rebooting" the heart. This therapy is time dependent, and the odds of successful defibrillation decline rapidly after the onset of cardiopulmonary arrest. [edit] Diagnosis The diagnosis of myocardial infarction is made by integrating the history of the presenting illness and physical examination with electrocardiogram findings and cardiac markers (blood tests for heart muscle cell damage).[46] A coronary angiogram allows visualization of narrowings or obstructions on the heart vessels, and therapeutic measures can follow immediately. At autopsy, a pathologist can diagnose a myocardial infarction based on anatomopathological findings. A chest radiograph and routine blood tests may indicate complications or precipitating causes and are often performed upon arrival to an emergency department. New regional wall motion abnormalities on an echocardiogram are also suggestive of a myocardial infarction. Echo may be performed in equivocal cases by the on-call cardiologist.[47] In stable patients whose symptoms have resolved by the time of evaluation, technetium-99m 2-methoxyisobutylisonitrile (Tc99m MIBI) or thallium-201 chloride can be used in nuclear medicine to visualize areas of reduced blood flow in conjunction with physiologic or pharmocologic stress.[47][48] Thallium may also be used to determine viability of tissue, distinguishing whether non-functional myocardium is actually dead or merely in a state of hibernation or of being stunned.[49] [edit] Diagnostic criteria WHO criteria[50] formulated in 1979 have classically been used to diagnose MI; a patient is diagnosed with myocardial infarction if two (probable) or three (definite) of the following criteria are satisfied: 1. Clinical history of ischaemic type chest pain lasting for more than 20 minutes 2. Changes in serial ECG tracings 3. Rise and fall of serum cardiac biomarkers such as creatine kinase-MB fraction and troponin The WHO criteria were refined in 2000 to give more prominence to cardiac biomarkers.[51] According to the new guidelines, a cardiac troponin rise accompanied by either typical symptoms, pathological Q waves, ST elevation or depression or coronary intervention are diagnostic of MI. [edit] Physical examination The general appearance of patients may vary according to the experienced symptoms; the patient may be comfortable, or restless and in severe distress with an increased respiratory rate. A cool and pale skin is common and points to vasoconstriction. Some patients have low-grade fever (38?39 ?C). Blood pressure may be elevated or decreased, and the pulse can be become irregular.[52][53] If heart failure ensues, elevated jugular venous pressure and hepatojugular reflux, or swelling of the legs due to peripheral edema may be found on inspection. Rarely, a cardiac bulge with a pace different from the pulse rhythm can be felt on precordial examination. Various abnormalities can be found on auscultation, such as a third and fourth heart sound, systolic murmurs, paradoxical splitting of the second heart sound, a pericardial friction rub and rales over the lung.[52][54] [edit] Electrocardiogram Main article: Electrocardiogram 12-lead electrocardiogram showing ST-segment elevation (orange) in I, aVL and V1-V5 with reciprocal changes (blue) in the inferior leads, indicative of an anterior wall myocardial infarction. The primary purpose of the electrocardiogram is to detect ischemia or acute coronary injury in broad, symptomatic emergency department populations. However, the standard 12 lead ECG has several limitations. An ECG represents a brief sample in time. Because unstable ischemic syndromes have rapidly changing supply versus demand characteristics, a single ECG may not accurately represent the entire picture.[55] It is therefore desirable to obtain serial 12 lead ECGs, particularly if the first ECG is obtained during a pain-free episode. Alternatively, many emergency departments and chest pain centers use computers capable of continuous ST segment monitoring.[56] The standard 12 lead ECG also does not directly examine the right ventricle, and is relatively poor at examining the posterior basal and lateral walls of the left ventricle. In particular, acute myocardial infarction in the distribution of the circumflex artery is likely to produce a nondiagnostic ECG.[55] The use of additional ECG leads like right-sided leads V3R and V4R and posterior leads V7, V8, and V9 may improve sensitivity for right ventricular and posterior myocardial infarction. In spite of these limitations, the 12 lead ECG stands at the center of risk stratification for the patient with suspected acute myocardial infarction. Mistakes in interpretation are relatively common, and the failure to identify high risk features has a negative effect on the quality of patient care.[57] The 12 lead ECG is used to classify patients into one of three groups:[58] 1. those with ST segment elevation or new bundle branch block (suspicious for acute injury and a possible candidate for acute reperfusion therapy with thrombolytics or primary PCI), 2. those with ST segment depression or T wave inversion (suspicious for ischemia), and 3. those with a so-called non-diagnostic or normal ECG. A normal ECG does not rule out acute myocardial infarction. Sometimes the earliest presentation of acute myocardial infarction is the hyperacute T wave, which is treated the same as ST segment elevation.[59] In practice this is rarely seen, because it only exists for 2?30 minutes after the onset of infarction.[60] Hyperacute T waves need to be distinguished from the peaked T waves associated with hyperkalemia.[61] The current guidelines for the ECG diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction require at least 1 mm (0.1 mV) of ST segment elevation in the limb leads, and at least 2 mm elevation in the precordial leads. These elevations must be present in anatomically contiguous leads.[58] (I, aVL, V5, V6 correspond to the lateral wall; V1-V4 correspond to the anterior wall; II, III, aVF correspond to the inferior wall.) This criterion is problematic, however, as acute myocardial infarction is not the most common cause of ST segment elevation in chest pain patients.[62] Over 90% of healthy men have at least 1 mm (0.1 mV) of ST segment elevation in at least one precordial lead.[63] The clinician must therefore be well versed in recognizing the so-called ECG mimics of acute myocardial infarction, which include left ventricular hypertrophy, left bundle branch block, paced rhythm, early repolarization, pericarditis, hyperkalemia, and ventricular aneurysm.[63][64][65] [edit] Cardiac markers Main article: Cardiac marker Cardiac markers or cardiac enzymes are proteins that leak out of injured myocardial cells through their damaged cell membranes into the bloodstream. Until the 1980s, the enzymes SGOT and LDH were used to assess cardiac injury. Now, the markers most widely used in detection of MI are MB subtype of the enzyme creatine kinase and cardiac troponins T and I as they are more specific for myocardial injury. The cardiac troponins T and I which are released within 4?6 hours of an attack of MI and remain elevated for up to 2 weeks, have nearly complete tissue specificity and are now the preferred markers for asssessing myocardial damage.[66] Elevated troponins in the setting of chest pain may accurately predict a high likelihood of a myocardial infarction in the near future.[67] New markers such as glycogen phosphorylase isoenzyme BB are under investigation.[68] The diagnosis of myocardial infarction requires two out of three components (history, ECG, and enzymes). When damage to the heart occurs, levels of cardiac markers rise over time, which is why blood tests for them are taken over a 24-hour period. Because these enzyme levels are not elevated immediately following a heart attack, patients presenting with chest pain are generally treated with the assumption that a myocardial infarction has occurred and then evaluated for a more precise diagnosis.[69] [edit] Angiography Angiogram of the coronary arteries. Main article: Coronary catheterization In difficult cases or in situations where intervention to restore blood flow is appropriate, coronary angiography can be performed. A catheter is inserted into an artery (usually the femoral artery) and pushed to the vessels supplying the heart. A radio-opaque dye is administered through the catheter and a sequence of x-rays (fluoroscopy) is performed. Obstructed or narrowed arteries can be identified, and angioplasty applied as a therapeutic measure (see below). Angioplasty requires extensive skill, especially in emergency settings. It is performed by a physician trained in interventional cardiology. [edit] Histopathology Further information: Timeline of myocardial infarction pathology Microscopy image (magn. ca 100x, H&E stain) from autopsy specimen of myocardial infarct (7 days post-infarction). Histopathological examination of the heart may reveal infarction at autopsy. Under the microscope, myocardial infarction presents as a circumscribed area of ischemic, coagulative necrosis (cell death). On gross examination, the infarct is not identifiable within the first 12 hours.[70] Micrograph of a myocardial infarction (ca. 400x H&E stain ) with prominent contraction band necrosis. Although earlier changes can be discerned using electron microscopy, one of the earliest changes under a normal microscope are so-called wavy fibers.[71] Subsequently, the myocyte cytoplasm becomes more eosinophilic (pink) and the cells lose their transversal striations, with typical changes and eventually loss of the cell nucleus.[72] The interstitium at the margin of the infarcted area is initially infiltrated with neutrophils, then with lymphocytes and macrophages, who phagocytose ("eat") the myocyte debris. The necrotic area is surrounded and progressively invaded by granulation tissue, which will replace the infarct with a fibrous (collagenous) scar (which are typical steps in wound healing). The interstitial space (the space between cells outside of blood vessels) may be infiltrated with red blood cells.[70] These features can be recognized in cases where the perfusion was not restored; reperfused infarcts can have other hallmarks, such as contraction band necrosis.[73] [edit] Prevention The risk of a recurrent myocardial infarction decreases with strict blood pressure management and lifestyle changes, chiefly smoking cessation, regular exercise, a sensible diet for patients with heart disease, and limitation of alcohol intake. Patients are usually commenced on several long-term medications post-MI, with the aim of preventing secondary cardiovascular events such as further myocardial infarctions, congestive heart failure or cerebrovascular accident (CVA). Unless contraindicated, such medications may include:[74][75] * Antiplatelet drug therapy such as aspirin and/or clopidogrel should be continued to reduce the risk of plaque rupture and recurrent myocardial infarction. Aspirin is first-line, owing to its low cost and comparable efficacy, with clopidogrel reserved for patients intolerant of aspirin. The combination of clopidogrel and aspirin may further reduce risk of cardiovascular events, however the risk of hemorrhage is increased.[76] * Beta blocker therapy such as metoprolol or carvedilol should be commenced.[77] These have been particularly beneficial in high-risk patients such as those with left ventricular dysfunction and/or continuing cardiac ischaemia.[78] ?-Blockers decrease mortality and morbidity. They also improve symptoms of cardiac ischemia in NSTEMI. * ACE inhibitor therapy should be commenced 24?48 hours post-MI in hemodynamically-stable patients, particularly in patients with a history of MI, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, anterior location of infarct (as assessed by ECG), and/or evidence of left ventricular dysfunction. ACE inhibitors reduce mortality, the development of heart failure, and decrease ventricular remodelling post-MI.[79] * Statin therapy has been shown to reduce mortality and morbidity post-MI.[80][81] The effects of statins may be more than their LDL lowering effects. The general consensus is that statins have plaque stabilization and multiple other ("pleiotropic") effects that may prevent myocardial infarction in addition to their effects on blood lipids.[82] * The aldosterone antagonist agent eplerenone has been shown to further reduce risk of cardiovascular death post-MI in patients with heart failure and left ventricular dysfunction, when used in conjunction with standard therapies above.[83] * Omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish, have been shown to reduce mortality post-MI.[84] While the mechanism by which these fatty acids decrease mortality is unknown, it has been postulated that the survival benefit is due to electrical stabilization and the prevention of ventricular fibrillation.[85] However, further studies in a high-risk subset have not shown a clear-cut decrease in potentially fatal arrhythmias due to omega-3 fatty acids.[86][87] [edit] Management A heart attack is a medical emergency which demands both immediate attention and activation of the emergency medical services. The ultimate goal of the management in the acute phase of the disease is to salvage as much myocardium as possible and prevent further complications. As time passes, the risk of damage to the heart muscle increases; hence the phrase that in myocardial infarction, "time is muscle," and "time wasted is muscle lost".[88] Oxygen, aspirin, glyceryl trinitrate (nitroglycerin) and analgesia are usually administered as soon as possible. In many areas, first responders are trained to administer these prior to arrival at the hospital. Morphine is classically used if nitroglycerin is not effective due to its ability to dilate blood vessels, which may aid in blood flow to the heart as well as relieve pain. Morphine may also cause hypotension (usually in the setting of hypovolemia), and should be avoided in the case of right ventricular infarction. Moreover, the CRUSADE trial demonstrated an increase in mortality with administering morphine in the setting of NSTEMI.[89] A 2009 review of high flow oxygen in myocardial infarction found increased mortality and infarct size, calling into question the recommendation about its routine use.[90] Of the front line agents, aspirin and streptokinase have been shown to markedly reduce mortality.[91] Streptokinase activates plasminogen, which is fibrinolytic (see section on thrombolysis below). Once the diagnosis of myocardial infarction is confirmed, other pharmacologic agents are often given. These include beta blockers,[92][93] anticoagulation (typically with heparin),[94] and possibly additional antiplatelet agents such as clopidogrel.[94] While these agents can decrease mortality in the setting of an acute myocardial infarction, they can lead to complications and potentially death if used in the wrong setting.[citation needed] Cocaine associated myocardial infarction should be managed in a manner similar to other patients with acute coronary syndrome except beta blockers should not be used and benzodiazepines should be administered early.[95] The treatment itself may have complications. If attempts to restore the blood flow are initiated after a critical period of only a few hours, the result may be a reperfusion injury instead of amelioration.[96] [edit] First aid As myocardial infarction is a common medical emergency, the signs are often part of first aid courses. The emergency action principles also apply in the case of myocardial infarction. When symptoms of myocardial infarction occur, people wait an average of three hours, instead of doing what is recommended: calling for help immediately.[97][98] Acting immediately by calling the emergency services can save your life for two reasons. First and most importantly, the emergency services can immedialetely save your life from primary ventricular fibrillation which occurs unexpectedly in more than 10% of all infarction especially during the first hour of symptoms and second, immediate treatment of myocardial infarction can prevent sustained damage to the heart ("time is muscle").[88] Certain positions allow the patient to rest in a position which minimizes breathing difficulties. A half-sitting position with knees bent is often recommended. Access to more oxygen can be given by opening the window and widening the collar for easier breathing. Aspirin can be given quickly (if the patient is not allergic to aspirin); but taking aspirin before calling the emergency medical services may be associated with unwanted delay.[99] Aspirin has an antiplatelet effect which inhibits formation of further thrombi (blood clots) that clog arteries. Chewing is the preferred method of administration, so that the Aspirin can be absorbed quickly. Dissolved soluble preparations or sublingual administration can also be used. U.S. guidelines recommend a dose of 162?325 mg.[94] Australian guidelines recommend a dose of 150?300 mg.[74] Glyceryl trinitrate (nitroglycerin) sublingually (under the tongue) can be given if available. If an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available the rescuer should immediately bring the AED to the patient's side and be prepared to follow its instructions, especially should the victim lose consciousness. If possible the rescuer should obtain basic information from the victim, in case the patient is unable to answer questions once emergency medical technicians arrive. The victim's name and any information regarding the nature of the victim's pain will be useful to health care providers. The exact time that these symptoms started may be critical for determining what interventions can be safely attempted once the victim reaches the medical center. Other useful pieces of information include what the patient was doing at the onset of symptoms, and anything else that might give clues to the pathology of the chest pain. It is also very important to relay any actions that have been taken, such as the number or dose of aspirin or nitroglycerin given, to the EMS personnel. Other general first aid principles include monitoring pulse, breathing, level of consciousness and, if possible, the blood pressure of the patient. In case of cardiac arrest, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can be administered. [edit] Automatic external defibrillation (AED) Since the publication of data showing that the availability of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in public places may significantly increase chances of survival, many of these have been installed in public buildings, public transport facilities, and in non-ambulance emergency vehicles (e.g. police cars and fire engines). AEDs analyze the heart's rhythm and determine whether the rhythm is amenable to defibrillation ("shockable"), as in ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation. [edit] Emergency services Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems vary considerably in their ability to evaluate and treat patients with suspected acute myocardial infarction. Some provide as little as first aid and early defibrillation. Others employ highly trained paramedics with sophisticated technology and advanced protocols.[100] Early access to EMS is promoted by a 9-1-1 system currently available to 90% of the population in the United States.[100] Most are capable of providing oxygen, IV access, sublingual nitroglycerine, morphine, and aspirin. Some are capable of providing thrombolytic therapy in the prehospital setting.[101][102] With primary PCI emerging as the preferred therapy for ST segment elevation myocardial infarction, EMS can play a key role in reducing door to balloon intervals (the time from presentation to a hospital ER to the restoration of coronary artery blood flow) by performing a 12 lead ECG in the field and using this information to triage the patient to the most appropriate medical facility.[103][104][105][106] In addition, the 12 lead ECG can be transmitted to the receiving hospital, which enables time saving decisions to be made prior to the patient's arrival. This may include a "cardiac alert" or "STEMI alert" that calls in off duty personnel in areas where the cardiac cath lab is not staffed 24 hours a day.[107] Even in the absence of a formal alerting program, prehospital 12 lead ECGs are independently associated with reduced door to treatment intervals in the emergency department.[108] [edit] Reperfusion The concept of reperfusion has become so central to the modern treatment of acute myocardial infarction, that we are said to be in the reperfusion era.[109][110] Patients who present with suspected acute myocardial infarction and ST segment elevation (STEMI) or new bundle branch block on the 12 lead ECG are presumed to have an occlusive thrombosis in an epicardial coronary artery. They are therefore candidates for immediate reperfusion, either with thrombolytic therapy, percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) or when these therapies are unsuccessful, bypass surgery. Individuals without ST segment elevation are presumed to be experiencing either unstable angina (UA) or non-ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI). They receive many of the same initial therapies and are often stabilized with antiplatelet drugs and anticoagulated. If their condition remains (hemodynamically) stable, they can be offered either late coronary angiography with subsequent restoration of blood flow (revascularization), or non-invasive stress testing to determine if there is significant ischemia that would benefit from revascularization. If hemodynamic instability develops in individuals with NSTEMIs, they may undergo urgent coronary angiography and subsequent revascularization. The use of thrombolytic agents is contraindicated in this patient subset, however.[111] The basis for this distinction in treatment regimens is that ST segment elevations on an ECG are typically due to complete occlusion of a coronary artery. On the other hand, in NSTEMIs there is typically a sudden narrowing of a coronary artery with preserved (but diminished) flow to the distal myocardium. Anticoagulation and antiplatelet agents are given to prevent the narrowed artery from occluding. At least 10% of patients with STEMI don't develop myocardial necrosis (as evidenced by a rise in cardiac markers) and subsequent Q waves on EKG after reperfusion therapy. Such a successful restoration of flow to the infarct-related artery during an acute myocardial infarction is known as "aborting" the myocardial infarction. If treated within the hour, about 25% of STEMIs can be aborted.[112] [edit] Thrombolytic therapy Main article: Thrombolysis Thrombolytic therapy is indicated for the treatment of STEMI if the drug can be administered within 12 hours of the onset of symptoms, the patient is eligible based on exclusion criteria, and primary PCI is not immediately available.[94] The effectiveness of thrombolytic therapy is highest in the first 2 hours. After 12 hours, the risk associated with thrombolytic therapy outweighs any benefit.[111][113] Because irreversible injury occurs within 2?4 hours of the infarction, there is a limited window of time available for reperfusion to work. Thrombolytic drugs are contraindicated for the treatment of unstable angina and NSTEMI[111][114] and for the treatment of individuals with evidence of cardiogenic shock.[115] Although no perfect thrombolytic agent exists, an ideal thrombolytic drug would lead to rapid reperfusion, have a high sustained patency rate, be specific for recent thrombi, be easily and rapidly administered, create a low risk for intra-cerebral and systemic bleeding, have no antigenicity, adverse hemodynamic effects, or clinically significant drug interactions, and be cost effective.[116] Currently available thrombolytic agents include streptokinase, urokinase, and alteplase (recombinant tissue plasminogen activator, rtPA). More recently, thrombolytic agents similar in structure to rtPA such as reteplase and tenecteplase have been used. These newer agents boast efficacy at least as good as rtPA with significantly easier administration. The thrombolytic agent used in a particular individual is based on institution preference and the age of the patient. Depending on the thrombolytic agent being used, adjuvant anticoagulation with heparin or low molecular weight heparin may be of benefit.[117][118] With TPa and related agents (reteplase and tenecteplase), heparin is needed to maintain coronary artery patency. Because of the anticoagulant effect of fibrinogen depletion with streptokinase[119] and urokinase[120][121][122] treatment, it is less necessary there.[117] Intracranial bleeding (ICB) and subsequent cerebrovascular accident (CVA) is a serious side effect of thrombolytic use. The risk of ICB is dependent on a number of factors, including a previous episode of intracranial bleed, age of the individual, and the thrombolytic regimen that is being used. In general, the risk of ICB due to thrombolytic use for the treatment of an acute myocardial infarction is between 0.5 and 1 percent.[117] Thrombolytic therapy to abort a myocardial infarction is not always effective. The degree of effectiveness of a thrombolytic agent is dependent on the time since the myocardial infarction began, with the best results occurring if the thrombolytic agent is used within two hours of the onset of symptoms.[102][123] If the individual presents more than 12 hours after symptoms commenced, the risk of intracranial bleed are considered higher than the benefits of the thrombolytic agent.[124] Failure rates of thrombolytics can be as high as 20% or higher.[125] In cases of failure of the thrombolytic agent to open the infarct-related coronary artery, the patient is then either treated conservatively with anticoagulants and allowed to "complete the infarction" or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI, see below) is then performed. Percutaneous coronary intervention in this setting is known as "rescue PCI" or "salvage PCI". Complications, particularly bleeding, are significantly higher with rescue PCI than with primary PCI due to the action of the thrombolytic agent. [edit] Percutaneous coronary intervention Main article: Percutaneous coronary intervention Thrombus material (in a cup, upper left corner) removed from a coronary artery during a percutaneous coronary intervention to abort a myocardial infarction. Five pieces of thrombus are shown (arrow heads). The benefit of prompt, expertly performed primary percutaneous coronary intervention over thrombolytic therapy for acute ST elevation myocardial infarction is now well established.[126][127][128] When performed rapidly by an experienced team, primary PCI restores flow in the culprit artery in more than 95% of patients compared with the spontaneous recanalization rate of about 65%.[126] Logistic and economic obstacles seem to hinder a more widespread application of percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) via cardiac catheterization,[129] although the feasibility of regionalized PCI for STEMI is currently being explored in the United States.[130] The use of percutaneous coronary intervention as a therapy to abort a myocardial infarction is known as primary PCI. The goal of primary PCI is to open the artery as soon as possible, and preferably within 90 minutes of the patient presenting to the emergency room. This time is referred to as the door-to-balloon time. Few hospitals can provide PCI within the 90 minute interval,[131] which prompted the American College of Cardiology (ACC) to launch a national Door to Balloon (D2B) Initiative in November 2006. Over 800 hospitals have joined the D2B Alliance as of March 16, 2007.[132] One particularly successful implementation of a primary PCI protocol is in the Calgary Health Region under the auspices of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta. Under this model, EMS teams responding to an emergency electronically transmit the ECG directly to a digital archiving system that allows emergency room physicians and/or cardiologists to immediately confirm the diagnosis. This in turn allows for redirection of the EMS teams to facilities prepped to conduct time-critical angioplasty, based on the ECG analysis. In an article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in June 2007, the Calgary implementation resulted in a median time to treatment of 62 minutes.[133] The current guidelines in the United States restrict primary PCI to hospitals with available emergency bypass surgery as a backup,[94] but this is not the case in other parts of the world.[134] Primary PCI involves performing a coronary angiogram to determine the anatomical location of the infarcting vessel, followed by balloon angioplasty (and frequently deployment of an intracoronary stent) of the thrombosed arterial segment. In some settings, an extraction catheter may be used to attempt to aspirate (remove) the thrombus prior to balloon angioplasty. While the use of intracoronary stents do not improve the short term outcomes in primary PCI, the use of stents is widespread because of the decreased rates of procedures to treat restenosis compared to balloon angioplasty.[135] Adjuvant therapy during primary PCI includes intravenous heparin, aspirin, and clopidogrel. Glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors are often used in the setting of primary PCI to reduce the risk of ischemic complications during the procedure.[136][137] Due to the number of antiplatelet agents and anticoagulants used during primary PCI, the risk of bleeding associated with the procedure is higher than during an elective PCI.[138] [edit] Coronary artery bypass surgery Main article: Coronary artery bypass graft surgery Coronary artery bypass surgery during mobilization (freeing) of the right coronary artery from its surrounding tissue, adipose tissue (yellow). The tube visible at the bottom is the aortic cannula (returns blood from the HLM). The tube above it (obscured by the surgeon on the right) is the venous cannula (receives blood from the body). The patient's heart is stopped and the aorta is cross-clamped. The patient's head (not seen) is at the bottom. Despite the guidelines, emergency bypass surgery for the treatment of an acute myocardial infarction (MI) is less common than PCI or medical management. In an analysis of patients in the U.S. National Registry of Myocardial Infarction (NRMI) from January 1995 to May 2004, the percentage of patients with cardiogenic shock treated with primary PCI rose from 27.4% to 54.4%, while the increase in CABG treatment was only from 2.1% to 3.2%.[139] Emergency coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) is usually undertaken to simultaneously treat a mechanical complication, such as a ruptured papillary muscle, or a ventricular septal defect, with ensueing cardiogenic shock.[140] In uncomplicated MI, the mortality rate can be high when the surgery is performed immediately following the infarction.[141] If this option is entertained, the patient should be stabilized prior to surgery, with supportive interventions such as the use of an intra-aortic balloon pump.[142] In patients developing cardiogenic shock after a myocardial infarction, both PCI and CABG are satisfactory treatment options, with similar survival rates.[143][144] Coronary artery bypass surgery involves an artery or vein from the patient being implanted to bypass narrowings or occlusions on the coronary arteries. Several arteries and veins can be used, however internal mammary artery grafts have demonstrated significantly better long-term patency rates than great saphenous vein grafts.[145] In patients with two or more coronary arteries affected, bypass surgery is associated with higher long-term survival rates compared to percutaneous interventions.[146] In patients with single vessel disease, surgery is comparably safe and effective, and may be a treatment option in selected cases.[147] Bypass surgery has higher costs initially, but becomes cost-effective in the long term.[148] A surgical bypass graft is more invasive initially but bears less risk of recurrent procedures (but these may be again minimally invasive).[147] [edit] Monitoring for arrhythmias Additional objectives are to prevent life-threatening arrhythmias or conduction disturbances. This requires monitoring in a coronary care unit and protocolised administration of antiarrhythmic agents. Antiarrhythmic agents are typically only given to individuals with life-threatening arrhythmias after a myocardial infarction and not to suppress the ventricular ectopy that is often seen after a myocardial infarction.[149][150][151] [edit] Austere environments Wilderness first aid In wilderness first aid, a possible heart attack justifies evacuation by the fastest available means, including MEDEVAC, even in the earliest or precursor stages. The patient will rapidly be incapable of further exertion and have to be carried out. Air travel Certified personnel traveling by commercial aircraft may be able to assist an MI patient by using the on-board first aid kit, which may contain some cardiac drugs (such as glyceryl trinitrate spray, aspirin, or opioid painkillers), an AED,[152] and oxygen. Pilots may divert the flight to land at a nearby airport. Cardiac monitors are being introduced by some airlines, and they can be used by both on-board and ground-based physicians.[153] [edit] Rehabilitation Cardiac rehabilitation aims to optimize function and quality of life in those afflicted with a heart disease. This can be with the help of a physician, or in the form of a cardiac rehabilitation program.[154] Physical exercise is an important part of rehabilitation after a myocardial infarction, with beneficial effects on cholesterol levels, blood pressure, weight, stress and mood.[154] Some patients become afraid of exercising because it might trigger another infarct.[155] Patients are stimulated to exercise, and should only avoid certain exerting activities. Local authorities may place limitations on driving motorised vehicles.[156] Some people are afraid to have sex after a heart attack. Most people can resume sexual activities after 3 to 4 weeks. The amount of activity needs to be dosed to the patient's possibilities.[157] [edit] New therapies under investigation Patients who receive stem cell treatment by coronary artery injections of stem cells derived from their own bone marrow after a myocardial infarction (MI) show improvements in left ventricular ejection fraction and end-diastolic volume not seen with placebo. The larger the initial infarct size, the greater the effect of the infusion. Clinical trials of progenitor cell infusion as a treatment approach to ST elevation MI are proceeding.[158] There are currently 3 biomaterial and tissue engineering approaches for the treatment of MI, but these are in an even earlier stage of medical research, so many questions and issues need to be addressed before they can be applied to patients. The first involves polymeric left ventricular restraints in the prevention of heart failure. The second utilizes in vitro engineered cardiac tissue, which is subsequently implanted in vivo. The final approach entails injecting cells and/or a scaffold into the myocardium to create in situ engineered cardiac tissue.[159] [edit] Complications Complications may occur immediately following the heart attack (in the acute phase), or may need time to develop (a chronic problem). After an infarction, an obvious complication is a second infarction, which may occur in the domain of another atherosclerotic coronary artery, or in the same zone if there are any live cells left in the infarct. [edit] Congestive heart failure Main article: Congestive heart failure A myocardial infarction may compromise the function of the heart as a pump for the circulation, a state called heart failure. There are different types of heart failure; left- or right-sided (or bilateral) heart failure may occur depending on the affected part of the heart, and it is a low-output type of failure. If one of the heart valves is affected, this may cause dysfunction, such as mitral regurgitation in the case of left-sided coronary occlusion that disrupts the blood supply of the papillary muscles. The incidence of heart failure is particularly high in patients with diabetes and requires special management strategies.[160] [edit] Myocardial rupture Main article: Myocardial rupture Myocardial rupture is most common three to five days after myocardial infarction, commonly of small degree, but may occur one day to three weeks later. In the modern era of early revascularization and intensive pharmacotherapy as treatment for MI, the incidence of myocardial rupture is about 1% of all MIs.[161] This may occur in the free walls of the ventricles, the septum between them, the papillary muscles, or less commonly the atria. Rupture occurs because of increased pressure against the weakened walls of the heart chambers due to heart muscle that cannot pump blood out effectively. The weakness may also lead to ventricular aneurysm, a localized dilation or ballooning of the heart chamber. Risk factors for myocardial rupture include completion of infarction (no revascularization performed), female sex, advanced age, and a lack of a previous history of myocardial infarction.[161] In addition, the risk of rupture is higher in individuals who are revascularized with a thrombolytic agent than with PCI.[162][163] The shear stress between the infarcted segment and the surrounding normal myocardium (which may be hypercontractile in the post-infarction period) makes it a nidus for rupture.[164] Rupture is usually a catastrophic event that may result a life-threatening process known as cardiac tamponade, in which blood accumulates within the pericardium or heart sac, and compresses the heart to the point where it cannot pump effectively. Rupture of the intraventricular septum (the muscle separating the left and right ventricles) causes a ventricular septal defect with shunting of blood through the defect from the left side of the heart to the right side of the heart, which can lead to right ventricular failure as well as pulmonary overcirculation. Rupture of the papillary muscle may also lead to acute mitral regurgitation and subsequent pulmonary edema and possibly even cardiogenic shock. [edit] Life-threatening arrhythmia A 12 lead electrocardiogram showing ventricular tachycardia. Since the electrical characteristics of the infarcted tissue change (see pathophysiology section), arrhythmias are a frequent complication.[165] The re-entry phenomenon may cause rapid heart rates (ventricular tachycardia and even ventricular fibrillation), and ischemia in the electrical conduction system of the heart may cause a complete heart block (when the impulse from the sinoatrial node, the normal cardiac pacemaker, does not reach the heart chambers).[166][167] [edit] Pericarditis Main article: Pericarditis As a reaction to the damage of the heart muscle, inflammatory cells are attracted. The inflammation may reach out and affect the heart sac. This is called pericarditis. In Dressler's syndrome, this occurs several weeks after the initial event. [edit] Cardiogenic shock A complication that may occur in the acute setting soon after a myocardial infarction or in the weeks following it is cardiogenic shock. Cardiogenic shock is defined as a hemodynamic state in which the heart cannot produce enough of a cardiac output to supply an adequate amount of oxygenated blood to the tissues of the body. While the data on performing interventions on individuals with cardiogenic shock is sparse, trial data suggests a long-term mortality benefit in undergoing revascularization if the individual is less than 75 years old and if the onset of the acute myocardial infarction is less than 36 hours and the onset of cardiogenic shock is less than 18 hours.[115] If the patient with cardiogenic shock is not going to be revascularized, aggressive hemodynamic support is warranted, with insertion of an intra-aortic balloon pump if not contraindicated.[115] If diagnostic coronary angiography does not reveal a culprit blockage that is the cause of the cardiogenic shock, the prognosis is poor.[115] [edit] Prognosis The prognosis for patients with myocardial infarction varies greatly, depending on the patient, the condition itself and the given treatment. Using simple variables which are immediately available in the emergency room, patients with a higher risk of adverse outcome can be identified. For example, one study found that 0.4% of patients with a low risk profile had died after 90 days, whereas the mortality rate in high risk patients was 21.1%.[168] For the period 2005 - 2008 in the United States the median mortality at 30 days was 16.6% with a range from 10.9% to 24.9% depending on the hospital which one looks at.[169] Although studies differ in the identified variables, some of the more reproduced risk stratifiers include age, hemodynamic parameters (such as heart failure, cardiac arrest on admission, systolic blood pressure, or Killip class of two or greater), ST-segment deviation, diabetes, serum creatinine concentration, peripheral vascular disease and elevation of cardiac markers.[168][170][171] Assessment of left ventricular ejection fraction may increase the predictive power of some risk stratification models.[172] The prognostic importance of Q-waves is debated.[173] Prognosis is significantly worsened if a mechanical complication (papillary muscle rupture, myocardial free wall rupture, and so on) were to occur.[162] There is evidence that case fatality of myocardial infarction has been improving over the years in all ethnicities.[174] [edit] Epidemiology Myocardial infarction is a common presentation of ischemic heart disease. The WHO estimated that in 2002, 12.6 percent of deaths worldwide were from ischemic heart disease.[2] Ischemic heart disease is the leading cause of death in developed countries, but third to AIDS and lower respiratory infections in developing countries.[175] In the United States, diseases of the heart are the leading cause of death, causing a higher mortality than cancer (malignant neoplasms).[176] Coronary heart disease is responsible for 1 in 5 deaths in the U.S.. Some 7,200,000 men and 6,000,000 women are living with some form of coronary heart disease. 1,200,000 people suffer a (new or recurrent) coronary attack every year, and about 40% of them die as a result of the attack.[177] This means that roughly every 65 seconds, an American dies of a coronary event. In India, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death.[178] The deaths due to CVD in India were 32% of all deaths in 2007 and are expected to rise from 1.17 million in 1990 and 1.59 million in 2000 to 2.03 million in 2010.[179] Although a relatively new epidemic in India, it has quickly become a major health issue with deaths due to CVD expected to double during 1985-2015.[180][181] Mortality estimates due to CVD vary widely by state, ranging from 10% in Meghalaya to 49% in Punjab (percentage of all deaths). Punjab (49%), Goa (42%), Tamil Nadu (36%) and Andhra Pradesh (31%) have the highest CVD related mortality estimates.[182] State-wise differences are correlated with prevalence of specific dietary risk factors in the states. Moderate physical exercise is associated with reduced incidence of CVD in India (those who exercise have less than half the risk of those who don't).[180] CVD also affects Indians at a younger age (in their 30s and 40s) than is typical in other countries. [edit] Legal implications At common law, a myocardial infarction is generally a disease, but may sometimes be an injury. This has implications for no-fault insurance schemes such as workers' compensation. A heart attack is generally not covered;[183] however, it may be a work-related injury if it results, for example, from unusual emotional stress or unusual exertion.[184] Additionally, in some jurisdictions, heart attacks suffered by persons in particular occupations such as police officers may be classified as line-of-duty injuries by statute or policy. In some countries or states, a person who has suffered from a myocardial infarction may be prevented from participating in activity that puts other people's lives at risk, for example driving a car or flying an airplane. [156] insurance for Car ? Home ? Travel ? Pet or anything is hard, but the best way is to compare and beat the trick of the insurers by comparing. Getting a car insurance quote online in the UK can save you a lot of money on your auto insurance. All you need to do is to fill out a simple quick quote provider form, submit it, and the online insurance company will do the rest and generate your car insurance quote within minutes. You should always Compare Car Insurance to find you the best deals as well as Cheap Car Insurance. Online car insurance quotes prevent this from happening. With online quotes, consumers also have the freedom to start, save and complete their insurance applications according to their convenience. In addition, a single application usually contains several free online quotes, so that you don?t have to be worried about the cost associated with receiving multiple car insurance online quotes in the UK. Cheap Car Insurance in the UK There are ways to find Cheap Car Insurance in uk through the means of comparing one insurance to another. You can chose between two main types of insurance for cars, depending on things such as the cost of repair versus the increased insurance premiums. More details on how to assess the amount of cover you need in each case are in the Type of Insurance section of the additional info article. Motor Insurance Quotes Lower your risk. The lower the risk category you?re in, the less you?ll pay. This includes things like your driving history, who else drives the car, whether it?s used for commuting and the make and model. Life Insurance UK People are forever, in a hurry to reach to their destinations and in their eagerness they often overlook traffic signals with disastrous consequences. If such a tragedy happens to a family which loses its only earning member in such a tragedy then the plight of such a family can easily be understood. It is with the intention of helping all such families that life insurance UK was devised. It ensures that families who lose their only earning member do not suffer on financial front at least. The value of such a service can easily be understood. No wonder service like this has become a way of life in UK with rarely would one be able to come across a family that would not have a policy of life insurance. However, to gain from life insurance UK it is imperative that people take care of a few things. Efforts like these would go a long way in ensuring that life insurance UK goes a long way in helping families arm with enough strength to take on such a time when their only earning member faces untimely demise. Private Dental Insurance Plans in the UK Lets go back to post war Britain when a marvelous creation called the National Health Service (NHS) was born. Dental treatments and regular preventative dental check ups were part of this service. Patients are now expected to contribute sometimes up to 50% of the cost of their NHS treatment and as this has become more expensive, coupled with the fact that NHS dentists are hard to get registered with, more and more people are seeking private dental insurance plans to meet the bills. It is important to differentiate between ?private dental insurance? and a ?dental insurance plan?. Private Dental insurance is exactly that, a policy that provides payment for the full cost of any and all treatment required either at a private dentistry practice or private dental hospital. Often such policies are part of a wider health insurance scheme provided by some employers. With inflation knocking on the door of many homes and household budgets stretched tight as a drum, many of today?s families are suffering the unhealthy effects of high rates and premiums. But with the help of insurance, life doesn?t have to be that way. In fact, saving money on car insurance, health insurance, home insurance, life insurance and long term care insurance has never been easier. All it takes is a few minutes, a little information and some wise comparison shopping to get affordable coverage and comprehensive protection! Whether looking for home insurance when purchasing a new home, car insurance to cover an old car, health insurance as the family grows, life insurance for an empty-nester or long term care insurance as parents age, you can find service that free of charge. There?s no better way to protect loved ones and treasured possessions, like cars, homes-and especially life and health! Where can I get free auto insurance quotes online? There are a ton of websites that will give you free auto insurance quotes online. The bigger sites are operated by the larger companies and only give you their quotes. But because rates can vary by $1,000 or more from one company to the next, you need to go to a site that will give you quotes from a number of auto insurance companies. Not only can you get multiple rate quotes from these sites, the better sites also have an articles section where you can get auto insurance tips, and a chat section where you can talk with an insurance expert online and get answers to your questions (see link below). It only takes a few minutes to get a free auto insurance quote online and you could save $500 to $1,000 every year you own your car. So why not head over to an insurance comparison site right now and find out how much you can save. Visit http://www.LowerRateQuotes.com or click on the following link to get free auto insurance rate quotes online from top-rated companies and see how much you can save. Helping You Choose Wisely Not sure which types of life insurance or long term care insurance are needed? Or maybe that home or health insurance policy is about to expire. Get some basic information on health insurance, home insurance, car insurance, life insurance and long term care insurance-and find out now! Saving You Money: Free Auto, Home, Health, Life & Long Term Care Insurance Quotes With inflation knocking on the door of many homes and household budgets stretched tight as a drum, many of today's families are suffering the unhealthy effects of high rates and premiums. But with the help of InsureMe, life doesn't have to be that way. In fact, saving money on car insurance, health insurance, home insurance, life insurance and long term care insurance has never been easier. All it takes is a few minutes, a little information and some wise comparison shopping to get affordable coverage and comprehensive protection! Meeting Your Needs At InsureMe, we care about families and their longevity. That's why we lend a hand by helping establish relationships with car insurance, life insurance, health insurance and home insurance agents?right in our customers' own backyards. By making connections with local agents through our network, we can offer: * Established agent connections in all 50 states * Free quotes and affordable rates that help slash premiums * Help locating the right policies at the right price?without sacrificing coverage Meeting customers' needs is our number one priority. With the help of our shopping service that offers quotes on home insurance, car insurance, life insurance, health insurance and long term care insurance, consumers can find and purchase the policies they need?all in one place. Now that's service and convenience! Whether looking for home insurance when purchasing a new home, car insurance to cover an old car, health insurance as the family grows, life insurance for an empty-nester or long term care insurance as parents age, our service is free of charge. There's no better way to protect loved ones and treasured possessions, like cars, homes?and especially life and health! Helping You Choose Wisely Not sure which types of life insurance or long term care insurance are needed? Or maybe that home or health insurance policy is about to expire. Come along with InsureMe, get some basic information on health insurance, home insurance, car insurance, life insurance and long term care insurance?and find out now! Quick Reference Guide Car Insurance When auto accidents occur, car insurance funds the necessary repairs?and pays medical expense if someone gets hurt. Depending on the coverage chosen, a car insurance policy may apply only to the damage sustained by another driver or car, or may also cover insured drivers and their vehicles. Without car insurance, drivers risk fines, ticketing and even jail, depending on the circumstances. Check with each state to find out which car insurance coverage types are required and the amounts mandated. Practicing defensive driving and buying a safer car will help keep car insurance costs down. Health Insurance Covering costs such as hospital bills, emergency room fees, doctor visits and prescription drug costs, health insurance allows the policyholder to seek medical help when needed and get supplemented by the carrier for the cost of treatment. Though by no means required, studies reveal that those who carry health insurance remain healthier than those who don't. Due to the rising cost of medical care today, health insurance has become a necessity for staying healthy and strong. Health insurance quotes help keep costs competitive. Home Insurance Home insurance is required for every home purchase, whether new construction or old. Home insurance protects homeowners from damage, theft and suit as a result of natural disaster, vandalism or unforeseen accidents, and provides reimbursement if and when any of these events occur. Covering both the home and property inside, home insurance helps ensure long term financial viability and prevent home loan default. Life Insurance When a family member passes away, loved ones are often blindsided. In the midst of emotional turmoil, life insurance offers the resources needed to pay off mortgages or other bills, go back to school, take care of children, cover final expenses or relocate. Sometimes offered through employers' benefit plans, most people don't know how much life insurance coverage they actually need?and many end up underinsured as a result. Making this purchase at a young age helps minimize cost, while protecting those left behind. Long Term Care Insurance Growing old is never easy. And when we find ourselves or a family member needing help with daily activities, long-term care coverage provides the money necessary to hire professional help. By paying for in-home nursing care, adult day care or resident nursing home care, long term care insurance assists loved ones as they age so families aren't burdened unnecessarily. As life spans lengthen, having long term care insurance in loved ones' financial portfolios becomes more important than ever before. Renters Insurance When items get damaged or ruined, renters insurance pays to repair or replace them in exchange for yearly premiums. While the landlord?s insurance policy covers damage to structures like apartment buildings and condos, renters insurance protects personal possessions like clothing, electronics and furniture. Depending on the landlord?s insurance policy, it often covers items like lighting, appliances and interior walls as well. If someone gets injured on the property, renters insurance releases them from financial strain and liability by paying medical bills and court costs. Getting You Insured Now that you're well informed, it's time to take action! Whether looking to protect loved ones with car insurance, life insurance or health insurance; or secure and guard that new abode with home insurance, InsureMe can help! Apply today for free car insurance, life insurance, home insurance, health insurance or long term care insurance quotes. Top agents will compete for your business, offering the most competitive quotes in your area. All you do is choose the coverage that's right for you?and walk away with unmatched protection right from your own home. Don't wait. Let InsureMe find you the right car insurance, home insurance, health insurance, life insurance or long term care insurance?today! Cheap Auto Insurance Rates? Cheaper Auto Insurance Quotes? The Cheapest Auto Insurance Rate? It's a fact: Only by shopping around and comparing auto insurance quotes, will you find the cheapest auto insurance quote available. However, make sure that you compare each insurer's features, policy coverage information, as well as price to get the best auto insurance policy for your needs. Remember: While cheap auto insurance rates are exciting, the cheapest auto insurance quote may not ultimately be your best bet. After all, insurance has to work for you when you need it most. In association with numerous companies, Kanetix works tirelessly to provide one of the best free online services for individuals wanting to compare auto insurance quotes, home insurance quotes, life insurance quotes, health insurance quotes, motorcycle insurance quotes and more. Our single minded obsession is to help our users save Time & MONEY, and deliver on the promise of affordable and low cost insurance plans for consumers across the USA. We hope that you benefit from the added value that we bring and that you come back again and again whenever you need quotes for quality personal insurance products. Serving: California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey, Virginia, Washington, Massachusetts, Indiana, Arizona, Tennessee, Missouri, Maryland, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado, Alabama, South Carolina, Louisiana, Kentucky, Oregon, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Iowa, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, West Virginia, Nebraska, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont, the District of Columbia and Wyoming. ***Certain conditions apply. The Importance of Matching Your Will to Your Whole Life Insurance When setting up all the things you need to get your life in order for your later years, you will want to think about making your will and your life insurance match so that there will be no confusion as to who should get what upon the unfortunate event of your death. There is some possibility for problems to arise if your will and your life insurance policy don?t directly reference one another. The definition of a will means that you can leave certain things to certain people. But a life insurance policy may or may not include the same names. Here is a brief guide to understanding why it is important to make sure that your whole life insurance and your will match. The Will Your will is a legal, binding document that allows you to bequeath your property and money to individuals that you specify. A person?s will often designates one person or family to take over all of the assets of a person?s estate. This is powerful in that it can guarantee that assets stay within a family or go to whomever you have chosen, but it doesn?t necessarily account for all assets. Life insurance beneficiaries may or may not be recognized in a will. While a will is meant to be a definitive legal document for the end of your life, your life insurance policy could contradict it. Unless you understand the importance of matching your will to your whole life insurance, your family could be left with a difficult interpretation to deal with. The Life Insurance Policy Your life insurance policy is a legal contract that guarantees the beneficiary a certain amount of predetermined money when you pass on. You name your beneficiary when you initiate the whole life insurance policy, and the name on the contract is the name that will be paid. But the insurance policy is not automatically tied to your will. The person named as the recipient of your assets in your will might not be the person you assigned as the beneficiary to your life insurance. Avoid this problem now that you know the importance of matching your will to your whole life insurance policy. Designating the Beneficiary of Your Life Insurance in Your Will Under the counsel of a lawyer or a judge, you will want to make sure that your will reflects your specific wishes in regards to the money to be paid from your whole life insurance policy. It is really just a matter of making sure that the legal terminology exists in your will to allow for an easy payment of your life insurance to the person you want as the beneficiary. Avoid giving your family the headache of deciphering a will and a life insurance policy that don?t match. Advantages and Disadvantages with a Group Insurance Plan Group insurance is designed so that employers, unions, and other organizations can get widespread coverage for their members at a reasonable cost. Instead of getting individual coverage for each person in a company or organization, insurance companies offer group plans for the entire group that overall tend to be less expensive. Who Does It Cover? Overall, group insurance plans cover those in the group with the same benefits. With major insurance plans, the individuals generally get membership through payroll deductions from their work. Still, additional benefits are available to buy into. Family members are usually covered under the group, but the deductions will be higher. Advantages to a Group Insurance Plan What?s nice about a group insurance plan is that because you are essentially buying ?in bulk? you can get a much cheaper rate than you might be able to get with an individual plan. You are also part of a group that has more bargaining power when negotiating with the insurance company. If you have an individual insurance plan, you are pretty much on your own when it comes to any questions, claims or disputes you may have. Also, to try to extend your protection to your family will probably cost additional premium money under an individual plan, whereas this protection is often covered under your group policy. Disadvantages to a Group Insurance Plan The problem with the group insurance plan is in some ways the same as the advantage; being part of a group. If you are in a better position to negotiate with the insurance company for better rates or better coverage, you may want to be considered a separate entity to the insurance company. If you are part of the group, you can only get the best rates and contract that the group gets. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link. In addition, with a group plan there may be more restrictions on the doctors you can see or the drugs you can get under the plan. With an individual plan, there will often be more flexibility in these matters. Home / Insurance And Mortgage UK Mortgage and Insurance Download Movies and Songs for free Resource for the latest information of UK Mortgage and Insurance. Continue for the latest and detailed information of UK Mortgage and Insurance. 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Insurance is defined as the equitable transfer of the risk of a loss, from one entity to another, in exchange for a premium, and can be thought of as a guaranteed and known small loss to prevent a large, possibly devastating loss. An insurer is a company selling the insurance; an insured or policyholder is the person or entity buying the insurance. The insurance rate is a factor used to determine the amount to be charged for a certain amount of insurance coverage, called the premium. Risk management, the practice of appraising and controlling risk, has evolved as a discrete field of study and practice. 1. A large number of homogeneous exposure units. The vast majority of insurance policies are provided for individual members of very large classes. Automobile insurance, for example, covered about 175 million automobiles in the United States in 2004.[2] The existence of a large number of homogeneous exposure units allows insurers to benefit from the so-called ?law of large numbers,? which in effect states that as the number of exposure units increases, the actual results are increasingly likely to become close to expected results. There are exceptions to this criterion. Lloyd's of London is famous for insuring the life or health of actors, actresses and sports figures. Satellite Launch insurance covers events that are infrequent. Large commercial property policies may insure exceptional properties for which there are no ?homogeneous? exposure units. Despite failing on this criterion, many exposures like these are generally considered to be insurable. 2. Definite Loss. The event that gives rise to the loss that is subject to the insured, at least in principle, take place at a known time, in a known place, and from a known cause. The classic example is death of an insured person on a life insurance policy. Fire, automobile accidents, and worker injuries may all easily meet this criterion. Other types of losses may only be definite in theory. Occupational disease, for instance, may involve prolonged exposure to injurious conditions where no specific time, place or cause is identifiable. Ideally, the time, place and cause of a loss should be clear enough that a reasonable person, with sufficient information, could objectively verify all three elements. 3. Accidental Loss. The event that constitutes the trigger of a claim should be fortuitous, or at least outside the control of the beneficiary of the insurance. The loss should be ?pure,? in the sense that it results from an event for which there is only the opportunity for cost. Events that contain speculative elements, such as ordinary business risks, are generally not considered insurable. 4. Large Loss. The size of the loss must be meaningful from the perspective of the insured. Insurance premiums need to cover both the expected cost of losses, plus the cost of issuing and administering the policy, adjusting losses, and supplying the capital needed to reasonably assure that the insurer will be able to pay claims. For small losses these latter costs may be several times the size of the expected cost of losses. There is little point in paying such costs unless the protection offered has real value to a buyer. 5. Affordable Premium. If the likelihood of an insured event is so high, or the cost of the event so large, that the resulting premium is large relative to the amount of protection offered, it is not likely that anyone will buy insurance, even if on offer. Further, as the accounting profession formally recognizes in financial accounting standards, the premium cannot be so large that there is not a reasonable chance of a significant loss to the insurer. If there is no such chance of loss, the transaction may have the form of insurance, but not the substance. (See the U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board standard number 113) 6. Calculable Loss. There are two elements that must be at least estimable, if not formally calculable: the probability of loss, and the attendant cost. Probability of loss is generally an empirical exercise, while cost has more to do with the ability of a reasonable person in possession of a copy of the insurance policy and a proof of loss associated with a claim presented under that policy to make a reasonably definite and objective evaluation of the amount of the loss recoverable as a result of the claim. 7. Limited risk of catastrophically large losses. The essential risk is often aggregation. If the same event can cause losses to numerous policyholders of the same insurer, the ability of that insurer to issue policies becomes constrained, not by factors surrounding the individual characteristics of a given policyholder, but by the factors surrounding the sum of all policyholders so exposed. Typically, insurers prefer to limit their exposure to a loss from a single event to some small portion of their capital base, on the order of 5 percent. Where the loss can be aggregated, or an individual policy could produce exceptionally large claims, the capital constraint will restrict an insurer's appetite for additional policyholders. The classic example is earthquake insurance, where the ability of an underwriter to issue a new policy depends on the number and size of the policies that it has already underwritten. Wind insurance in hurricane zones, particularly along coast lines, is another example of this phenomenon. In extreme cases, the aggregation can affect the entire industry, since the combined capital of insurers and reinsurers can be small compared to the needs of potential policyholders in areas exposed to aggregation risk. In commercial fire insurance it is possible to find single properties whose total exposed value is well in excess of any individual insurer?s capital constraint. Such properties are generally shared among several insurers, or are insured by a single insurer who syndicates the risk into the reinsurance market. Main article: Indemnity The technical definition of "indemnity" means to make whole again. There are two types of insurance contracts; 1. an "indemnity" policy and 2. a "pay on behalf" or "on behalf of"[3] policy. The difference is significant on paper, but rarely material in practice. An "indemnity" policy will never pay claims until the insured has paid out of pocket to some third party; for example, a visitor to your home slips on a floor that you left wet and sues you for $10,000 and wins. Under an "indemnity" policy the homeowner would have to come up with the $10,000 to pay for the visitor's fall and then would be "indemnified" by the insurance carrier for the out of pocket costs (the $10,000)[4]. Under the same situation, a "pay on behalf" policy, the insurance carrier would pay the claim and the insured (the homeowner) would not be out of pocket for anything. Most modern liability insurance is written on the basis of "pay on behalf" language[5]. An entity seeking to transfer risk (an individual, corporation, or association of any type, etc.) becomes the 'insured' party once risk is assumed by an 'insurer', the insuring party, by means of a contract, called an insurance 'policy'. Generally, an insurance contract includes, at a minimum, the following elements: the parties (the insurer, the insured, the beneficiaries), the premium, the period of coverage, the particular loss event covered, the amount of coverage (i.e., the amount to be paid to the insured or beneficiary in the event of a loss), and exclusions (events not covered). An insured is thus said to be "indemnified" against the loss covered in the policy. When insured parties experience a loss for a specified peril, the coverage entitles the policyholder to make a 'claim' against the insurer for the covered amount of loss as specified by the policy. The fee paid by the insured to the insurer for assuming the risk is called the 'premium'. Insurance premiums from many insureds are used to fund accounts reserved for later payment of claims?in theory for a relatively few claimants?and for overhead costs. So long as an insurer maintains adequate funds set aside for anticipated losses (i.e., reserves), the remaining margin is an insurer's profit. Underwriting and investing The business model can be reduced to a simple equation: Profit = earned premium + investment income - incurred loss - underwriting expenses. Insurers make money in two ways: 1. Through underwriting, the process by which insurers select the risks to insure and decide how much in premiums to charge for accepting those risks; 2. By investing the premiums they collect from insured parties. The most complicated aspect of the insurance business is the underwriting of policies. Using a wide assortment of data, insurers predict the likelihood that a claim will be made against their policies and price products accordingly. To this end, insurers use actuarial science to quantify the risks they are willing to assume and the premium they will charge to assume them. Data is analyzed to fairly accurately project the rate of future claims based on a given risk. Actuarial science uses statistics and probability to analyze the risks associated with the range of perils covered, and these scientific principles are used to determine an insurer's overall exposure. Upon termination of a given policy, the amount of premium collected and the investment gains thereon minus the amount paid out in claims is the insurer's underwriting profit on that policy. Of course, from the insurer's perspective, some policies are "winners" (i.e., the insurer pays out less in claims and expenses than it receives in premiums and investment income) and some are "losers" (i.e., the insurer pays out more in claims and expenses than it receives in premiums and investment income); insurance companies essentially use actuarial science to attempt to underwrite enough "winning" policies to pay out on the "losers" while still maintaining profitability. An insurer's underwriting performance is measured in its combined ratio. The loss ratio (incurred losses and loss-adjustment expenses divided by net earned premium) is added to the expense ratio (underwriting expenses divided by net premium written) to determine the company's combined ratio. The combined ratio is a reflection of the company's overall underwriting profitability. A combined ratio of less than 100 percent indicates underwriting profitability, while anything over 100 indicates an underwriting loss. Insurance companies also earn investment profits on ?float?. ?Float? or available reserve is the amount of money, at hand at any given moment, that an insurer has collected in insurance premiums but has not been paid out in claims. Insurers start investing insurance premiums as soon as they are collected and continue to earn interest on them until claims are paid out. The Association of British Insurers (gathering 400 insurance companies and 94% of UK insurance services) has almost 20% of the investments in the London Stock Exchange.[6] In the United States, the underwriting loss of property and casualty insurance companies was $142.3 billion in the five years ending 2003. But overall profit for the same period was $68.4 billion, as the result of float. Some insurance industry insiders, most notably Hank Greenberg, do not believe that it is forever possible to sustain a profit from float without an underwriting profit as well, but this opinion is not universally held. Naturally, the ?float? method is difficult to carry out in an economically depressed period. Bear markets do cause insurers to shift away from investments and to toughen up their underwriting standards. So a poor economy generally means high insurance premiums. This tendency to swing between profitable and unprofitable periods over time is commonly known as the "underwriting" or insurance cycle. [7] Property and casualty insurers currently make the most money from their auto insurance line of business. Generally better statistics are available on auto losses and underwriting on this line of business has benefited greatly from advances in computing. Additionally, property losses in the United States, due to unpredictable natural catastrophes, have exacerbated this trend. [edit] Claims Claims and loss handling is the materialized utility of insurance; it is the actual "product" paid for, though one hopes it will never need to be used. Claims may be filed by insureds directly with the insurer or through brokers or agents. The insurer may require that the claim be filed on its own proprietary forms, or may accept claims on a standard industry form such as those produced by ACORD. Insurance company claim departments employ a large number of claims adjusters supported by a staff of records management and data entry clerks. Incoming claims are classified based on severity and are assigned to adjusters whose settlement authority varies with their knowledge and experience. The adjuster undertakes a thorough investigation of each claim, usually in close cooperation with the insured, determines its reasonable monetary value, and authorizes payment. Adjusting liability insurance claims is particularly difficult because there is a third party involved (the plaintiff who is suing the insured) who is under no contractual obligation to cooperate with the insurer and in fact may regard the insurer as a deep pocket. The adjuster must obtain legal counsel for the insured (either inside "house" counsel or outside "panel" counsel), monitor litigation that may take years to complete, and appear in person or over the telephone with settlement authority at a mandatory settlement conference when requested by the judge. In managing the claims handling function, insurers seek to balance the elements of customer satisfaction, administrative handling expenses, and claims overpayment leakages. As part of this balancing act, fraudulent insurance practices are a major business risk that must be managed and overcome. Disputes between insurers and insureds over the validity of claims or claims handling practices occasionally escalate into litigation; see insurance bad faith. Main article: History of insurance In some sense we can say that insurance appears simultaneously with the appearance of human society. We know of two types of economies in human societies: money economies (with markets, money, financial instruments and so on) and non-money or natural economies (without money, markets, financial instruments and so on). The second type is a more ancient form than the first. In such an economy and community, we can see insurance in the form of people helping each other. For example, if a house burns down, the members of the community help build a new one. Should the same thing happen to one's neighbour, the other neighbours must help. Otherwise, neighbours will not receive help in the future. This type of insurance has survived to the present day in some countries where modern money economy with its financial instruments is not widespread (for example countries in the territory of the former Soviet Union). Turning to insurance in the modern sense (i.e., insurance in a modern money economy, in which insurance is part of the financial sphere), early methods of transferring or distributing risk were practised by Chinese and Babylonian traders as long ago as the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC, respectively.[8] Chinese merchants travelling treacherous river rapids would redistribute their wares across many vessels to limit the loss due to any single vessel's capsizing. The Babylonians developed a system which was recorded in the famous Code of Hammurabi, c. 1750 BC, and practised by early Mediterranean sailing merchants. If a merchant received a loan to fund his shipment, he would pay the lender an additional sum in exchange for the lender's guarantee to cancel the loan should the shipment be stolen or lost at sea. Achaemenian monarchs of Ancient Persia were the first to insure their people and made it official by registering the insuring process in governmental notary offices. The insurance tradition was performed each year in Norouz (beginning of the Iranian New Year); the heads of different ethnic groups as well as others willing to take part, presented gifts to the monarch. The most important gift was presented during a special ceremony. When a gift was worth more than 10,000 Derrik (Achaemenian gold coin) the issue was registered in a special office. This was advantageous to those who presented such special gifts. For others, the presents were fairly assessed by the confidants of the court. Then the assessment was registered in special offices. The purpose of registering was that whenever the person who presented the gift registered by the court was in trouble, the monarch and the court would help him. Jahez, a historian and writer, writes in one of his books on ancient Iran: "[W]henever the owner of the present is in trouble or wants to construct a building, set up a feast, have his children married, etc. the one in charge of this in the court would check the registration. If the registered amount exceeded 10,000 Derrik, he or she would receive an amount of twice as much."[1] A thousand years later, the inhabitants of Rhodes invented the concept of the 'general average'. Merchants whose goods were being shipped together would pay a proportionally divided premium which would be used to reimburse any merchant whose goods were jettisoned during storm or sinkage. The Greeks and Romans introduced the origins of health and life insurance c. 600 AD when they organized guilds called "benevolent societies" which cared for the families and paid funeral expenses of members upon death. Guilds in the Middle Ages served a similar purpose. The Talmud deals with several aspects of insuring goods. Before insurance was established in the late 17th century, "friendly societies" existed in England, in which people donated amounts of money to a general sum that could be used for emergencies. Separate insurance contracts (i.e., insurance policies not bundled with loans or other kinds of contracts) were invented in Genoa in the 14th century, as were insurance pools backed by pledges of landed estates. These new insurance contracts allowed insurance to be separated from investment, a separation of roles that first proved useful in marine insurance. Insurance became far more sophisticated in post-Renaissance Europe, and specialized varieties developed. Some forms of insurance had developed in London by the early decades of the seventeenth century. For example, the will of the English colonist Robert Hayman mentions two "policies of insurance" taken out with the diocesan Chancellor of London, Arthur Duck. Of the value of ?100 each, one relates to the safe arrival of Hayman's ship in Guyana and the other is in regard to "one hundred pounds assured by the said Doctor Arthur Ducke on my life". Hayman's will was signed and sealed on 17 November 1628 but not proved until 1633.[9] Toward the end of the seventeenth century, London's growing importance as a centre for trade increased demand for marine insurance. In the late 1680s, Edward Lloyd opened a coffee house that became a popular haunt of ship owners, merchants, and ships? captains, and thereby a reliable source of the latest shipping news. It became the meeting place for parties wishing to insure cargoes and ships, and those willing to underwrite such ventures. Today, Lloyd's of London remains the leading market (note that it is not an insurance company) for marine and other specialist types of insurance, but it works rather differently than the more familiar kinds of insurance. Insurance as we know it today can be traced to the Great Fire of London, which in 1666 devoured 13,200 houses. In the aftermath of this disaster, Nicholas Barbon opened an office to insure buildings. In 1680, he established England's first fire insurance company, "The Fire Office," to insure brick and frame homes. The first insurance company in the United States underwrote fire insurance and was formed in Charles Town (modern-day Charleston), South Carolina, in 1732. Benjamin Franklin helped to popularize and make standard the practice of insurance, particularly against fire in the form of perpetual insurance. In 1752, he founded the Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire. Franklin's company was the first to make contributions toward fire prevention. Not only did his company warn against certain fire hazards, it refused to insure certain buildings where the risk of fire was too great, such as all wooden houses. In the United States, regulation of the insurance industry is highly Balkanized, with primary responsibility assumed by individual state insurance departments. Whereas insurance markets have become centralized nationally and internationally, state insurance commissioners operate individually, though at times in concert through a national insurance commissioners' organization. In recent years, some have called for a dual state and federal regulatory system (commonly referred to as the Optional federal charter (OFC)) for insurance similar to that which oversees state banks and national banks. Types of insurance Any risk that can be quantified can potentially be insured. Specific kinds of risk that may give rise to claims are known as "perils". An insurance policy will set out in detail which perils are covered by the policy and which are not. Below are (non-exhaustive) lists of the many different types of insurance that exist. A single policy may cover risks in one or more of the categories set out below. For example, auto insurance would typically cover both property risk (covering the risk of theft or damage to the car) and liability risk (covering legal claims from causing an accident). A homeowner's insurance policy in the U.S. typically includes property insurance covering damage to the home and the owner's belongings, liability insurance covering certain legal claims against the owner, and even a small amount of coverage for medical expenses of guests who are injured on the owner's property. Business insurance can be any kind of insurance that protects businesses against risks. Some principal subtypes of business insurance are (a) the various kinds of professional liability insurance, also called professional indemnity insurance, which are discussed below under that name; and (b) the business owner's policy (BOP), which bundles into one policy many of the kinds of coverage that a business owner needs, in a way analogous to how homeowners insurance bundles the coverages that a homeowner needs.[10] Auto insurance protects you against financial loss if you have an accident. It is a contract between you and the insurance company. You agree to pay the premium and the insurance company agrees to pay your losses as defined in your policy. Auto insurance provides property, liability and medical coverage: 1. Property coverage pays for damage to or theft of your car. 2. Liability coverage pays for your legal responsibility to others for bodily injury or property damage. 3. Medical coverage pays for the cost of treating injuries, rehabilitation and sometimes lost wages and funeral expenses. An auto insurance policy comprises six kinds of coverage. Most countries require you to buy some, but not all, of these coverages. If you're financing a car, your lender may also have requirements. Most auto policies are for six months to a year. In the United States, your insurance company should notify you by mail when it?s time to renew the policy and to pay your premium. [11] Main article: Home insurance Home insurance provides compensation for damage or destruction of a home from disasters. In some geographical areas, the standard insurances excludes certain types of disasters, such as flood and earthquakes, that require additional coverage. Maintenance-related problems are the homeowners' responsibility. The policy may include inventory, or this can be bought as a separate policy, especially for people who rent housing. In some countries, insurers offer a package which may include liability and legal responsibility for injuries and property damage caused by members of the household, including pets.[12] [edit] Health Main articles: Health insurance and Dental insurance NHS Facility Health insurance policies by the National Health Service in the United Kingdom (NHS) or other publicly-funded health programs will cover the cost of medical treatments. Dental insurance, like medical insurance, is coverage for individuals to protect them against dental costs. In the U.S., dental insurance is often part of an employer's benefits package, along with health insurance. [edit] Accident, Sickness and Unemployment Insurance * Disability insurance policies provide financial support in the event the policyholder is unable to work because of disabling illness or injury. It provides monthly support to help pay such obligations as mortgages and credit cards. * Disability overhead insurance allows business owners to cover the overhead expenses of their business while they are unable to work. * Total permanent disability insurance provides benefits when a person is permanently disabled and can no longer work in their profession, often taken as an adjunct to life insurance. * Workers' compensation insurance replaces all or part of a worker's wages lost and accompanying medical expenses incurred because of a job-related injury. [edit] Casualty Casualty insurance insures against accidents, not necessarily tied to any specific property. Main article: Casualty insurance * Crime insurance is a form of casualty insurance that covers the policyholder against losses arising from the criminal acts of third parties. For example, a company can obtain crime insurance to cover losses arising from theft or embezzlement. * Political risk insurance is a form of casualty insurance that can be taken out by businesses with operations in countries in which there is a risk that revolution or other political conditions will result in a loss. [edit] Life Main article: Life insurance Life insurance provides a monetary benefit to a decedent's family or other designated beneficiary, and may specifically provide for income to an insured person's family, burial, funeral and other final expenses. Life insurance policies often allow the option of having the proceeds paid to the beneficiary either in a lump sum cash payment or an annuity. Annuities provide a stream of payments and are generally classified as insurance because they are issued by insurance companies and regulated as insurance and require the same kinds of actuarial and investment management expertise that life insurance requires. Annuities and pensions that pay a benefit for life are sometimes regarded as insurance against the possibility that a retiree will outlive his or her financial resources. In that sense, they are the complement of life insurance and, from an underwriting perspective, are the mirror image of life insurance. Certain life insurance contracts accumulate cash values, which may be taken by the insured if the policy is surrendered or which may be borrowed against. Some policies, such as annuities and endowment policies, are financial instruments to accumulate or liquidate wealth when it is needed. In many countries, such as the U.S. and the UK, the tax law provides that the interest on this cash value is not taxable under certain circumstances. This leads to widespread use of life insurance as a tax-efficient method of saving as well as protection in the event of early death. In U.S., the tax on interest income on life insurance policies and annuities is generally deferred. However, in some cases the benefit derived from tax deferral may be offset by a low return. This depends upon the insuring company, the type of policy and other variables (mortality, market return, etc.). Moreover, other income tax saving vehicles (e.g., IRAs, 401(k) plans, Roth IRAs) may be better alternatives for value accumulation. [edit] Property Main article: Property insurance This tornado damage to an Illinois home would be considered an "Act of God" for insurance purposes Property insurance provides protection against risks to property, such as fire, theft or weather damage. This includes specialized forms of insurance such as fire insurance, flood insurance, earthquake insurance, home insurance, inland marine insurance or boiler insurance. * Automobile insurance, known in the UK as motor insurance, is probably the most common form of insurance and may cover both legal liability claims against the driver and loss of or damage to the insured's vehicle itself. Throughout the United States an auto insurance policy is required to legally operate a motor vehicle on public roads. In some jurisdictions, bodily injury compensation for automobile accident victims has been changed to a no-fault system, which reduces or eliminates the ability to sue for compensation but provides automatic eligibility for benefits. Credit card companies insure against damage on rented cars. o Driving School Insurance insurance provides cover for any authorized driver whilst undergoing tuition, cover also unlike other motor policies provides cover for instructor liability where both the pupil and driving instructor are equally liable in the event of a claim. * Aviation insurance insures against hull, spares, deductibles, hull wear and liability risks. * Boiler insurance (also known as boiler and machinery insurance or equipment breakdown insurance) insures against accidental physical damage to equipment or machinery. * Builder's risk insurance insures against the risk of physical loss or damage to property during construction. Builder's risk insurance is typically written on an "all risk" basis covering damage due to any cause (including the negligence of the insured) not otherwise expressly excluded. * Crop insurance "Farmers use crop insurance to reduce or manage various risks associated with growing crops. Such risks include crop loss or damage caused by weather, hail, drought, frost damage, insects, or disease, for instance."[13] * Earthquake insurance is a form of property insurance that pays the policyholder in the event of an earthquake that causes damage to the property. Most ordinary homeowners insurance policies do not cover earthquake damage. Most earthquake insurance policies feature a high deductible. Rates depend on location and the probability of an earthquake, as well as the construction of the home. * A fidelity bond is a form of casualty insurance that covers policyholders for losses that they incur as a result of fraudulent acts by specified individuals. It usually insures a business for losses caused by the dishonest acts of its employees. * Flood insurance protects against property loss due to flooding. Many insurers in the U.S. do not provide flood insurance in some portions of the country. In response to this, the federal government created the National Flood Insurance Program which serves as the insurer of last resort. * Home insurance or homeowners' insurance: See "Property insurance". * Landlord insurance is specifically designed for people who own properties which they rent out. Most house insurance cover in the U.K will not be valid if the property is rented out therefore landlords must take out this specialist form of home insurance. * Marine insurance and marine cargo insurance cover the loss or damage of ships at sea or on inland waterways, and of the cargo that may be on them. When the owner of the cargo and the carrier are separate corporations, marine cargo insurance typically compensates the owner of cargo for losses sustained from fire, shipwreck, etc., but excludes losses that can be recovered from the carrier or the carrier's insurance. Many marine insurance underwriters will include "time element" coverage in such policies, which extends the indemnity to cover loss of profit and other business expenses attributable to the delay caused by a covered loss. * Surety bond insurance is a three party insurance guaranteeing the performance of the principal. * Terrorism insurance provides protection against any loss or damage caused by terrorist activities. * Volcano insurance is an insurance that covers volcano damage in Hawaii. * Windstorm insurance is an insurance covering the damage that can be caused by hurricanes and tropical cyclones. [edit] Liability Main article: Liability insurance Liability insurance is a very broad superset that covers legal claims against the insured. Many types of insurance include an aspect of liability coverage. For example, a homeowner's insurance policy will normally include liability coverage which protects the insured in the event of a claim brought by someone who slips and falls on the property; automobile insurance also includes an aspect of liability insurance that indemnifies against the harm that a crashing car can cause to others' lives, health, or property. The protection offered by a liability insurance policy is twofold: a legal defense in the event of a lawsuit commenced against the policyholder and indemnification (payment on behalf of the insured) with respect to a settlement or court verdict. Liability policies typically cover only the negligence of the insured, and will not apply to results of wilful or intentional acts by the insured. * Public liability insurance covers a business against claims should its operations injure a member of the public or damage their property in some way. * Directors and officers liability insurance protects an organization (usually a corporation) from costs associated with litigation resulting from mistakes made by directors and officers for which they are liable. In the industry, it is usually called "D&O" for short. * Environmental liability insurance protects the insured from bodily injury, property damage and cleanup costs as a result of the dispersal, release or escape of pollutants. * Errors and omissions insurance: See "Professional liability insurance" under "Liability insurance". * Prize indemnity insurance protects the insured from giving away a large prize at a specific event. Examples would include offering prizes to contestants who can make a half-court shot at a basketball game, or a hole-in-one at a golf tournament. * Professional liability insurance, also called professional indemnity insurance, protects insured professionals such as architectural corporation and medical practice against potential negligence claims made by their patients/clients. Professional liability insurance may take on different names depending on the profession. For example, professional liability insurance in reference to the medical profession may be called malpractice insurance. Notaries public may take out errors and omissions insurance (E&O). Other potential E&O policyholders include, for example, real estate brokers, Insurance agents, home inspectors, appraisers, and website developers. [edit] Credit Main article: Credit insurance Credit insurance repays some or all of a loan when certain things happen to the borrower such as unemployment, disability, or death. * Mortgage insurance insures the lender against default by the borrower. Mortgage insurance is a form of credit insurance, although the name credit insurance more often is used to refer to policies that cover other kinds of debt. * Many credit cards offer payment protection plans which are a form of credit insurance. [edit] Other types * Collateral protection insurance or CPI, insures property (primarily vehicles) held as collateral for loans made by lending institutions. * Defense Base Act Workers' compensation or DBA Insurance provides coverage for civilian workers hired by the government to perform contracts outside the U.S. and Canada. DBA is required for all U.S. citizens, U.S. residents, U.S. Green Card holders, and all employees or subcontractors hired on overseas government contracts. Depending on the country, Foreign Nationals must also be covered under DBA. This coverage typically includes expenses related to medical treatment and loss of wages, as well as disability and death benefits. * Expatriate insurance provides individuals and organizations operating outside of their home country with protection for automobiles, property, health, liability and business pursuits. * Financial loss insurance or Business Interruption Insurance protects individuals and companies against various financial risks. For example, a business might purchase coverage to protect it from loss of sales if a fire in a factory prevented it from carrying out its business for a time. Insurance might also cover the failure of a creditor to pay money it owes to the insured. This type of insurance is frequently referred to as "business interruption insurance." Fidelity bonds and surety bonds are included in this category, although these products provide a benefit to a third party (the "obligee") in the event the insured party (usually referred to as the "obligor") fails to perform its obligations under a contract with the obligee. * Kidnap and ransom insurance * Locked funds insurance is a little-known hybrid insurance policy jointly issued by governments and banks. It is used to protect public funds from tamper by unauthorized parties. In special cases, a government may authorize its use in protecting semi-private funds which are liable to tamper. The terms of this type of insurance are usually very strict. Therefore it is used only in extreme cases where maximum security of funds is required. * Nuclear incident insurance covers damages resulting from an incident involving radioactive materials and is generally arranged at the national level. See the Nuclear exclusion clause and for the United States the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act) * Pet insurance insures pets against accidents and illnesses - some companies cover routine/wellness care and burial, as well. * Pollution Insurance which consists of first-party coverage for contamination of insured property either by external or on-site sources. Coverage for liability to third parties arising from contamination of air, water, or land due to the sudden and accidental release of hazardous materials from the insured site. The policy usually covers the costs of cleanup and may include coverage for releases from underground storage tanks. Intentional acts are specifically excluded. * Purchase insurance is aimed at providing protection on the products people purchase. Purchase insurance can cover individual purchase protection, warranties, guarantees, care plans and even mobile phone insurance. Such insurance is normally very limited in the scope of problems that are covered by the policy. * Title insurance provides a guarantee that title to real property is vested in the purchaser and/or mortgagee, free and clear of liens or encumbrances. It is usually issued in conjunction with a search of the public records performed at the time of a real estate transaction. * Travel insurance is an insurance cover taken by those who travel abroad, which covers certain losses such as medical expenses, loss of personal belongings, travel delay, personal liabilities, etc. * Media Insurance is designed to cover professionals that engage in film, video and TV production. * Legal Expenses Insurance covers policyholders against the potential costs of legal action against an institution or an individual. [edit] Insurance financing vehicles * Fraternal insurance is provided on a cooperative basis by fraternal benefit societies or other social organizations.[14] * No-fault insurance is a type of insurance policy (typically automobile insurance) where insureds are indemnified by their own insurer regardless of fault in the incident. * Protected Self-Insurance is an alternative risk financing mechanism in which an organization retains the mathematically calculated cost of risk within the organization and transfers the catastrophic risk with specific and aggregate limits to an insurer so the maximum total cost of the program is known. A properly designed and underwritten Protected Self-Insurance Program reduces and stabilizes the cost of insurance and provides valuable risk management information. * Retrospectively Rated Insurance is a method of establishing a premium on large commercial accounts. The final premium is based on the insured's actual loss experience during the policy term, sometimes subject to a minimum and maximum premium, with the final premium determined by a formula. Under this plan, the current year's premium is based partially (or wholly) on the current year's losses, although the premium adjustments may take months or years beyond the current year's expiration date. The rating formula is guaranteed in the insurance contract. Formula: retrospective premium = converted loss + basic premium ? tax multiplier. Numerous variations of this formula have been developed and are in use. * Formal self insurance is the deliberate decision to pay for otherwise insurable losses out of one's own money. This can be done on a formal basis by establishing a separate fund into which funds are deposited on a periodic basis, or by simply forgoing the purchase of available insurance and paying out-of-pocket. Self insurance is usually used to pay for high-frequency, low-severity losses. Such losses, if covered by conventional insurance, mean having to pay a premium that includes loadings for the company's general expenses, cost of putting the policy on the books, acquisition expenses, premium taxes, and contingencies. While this is true for all insurance, for small, frequent losses the transaction costs may exceed the benefit of volatility reduction that insurance otherwise affords. * Reinsurance is a type of insurance purchased by insurance companies or self-insured employers to protect against unexpected losses. Financial reinsurance is a form of reinsurance that is primarily used for capital management rather than to transfer insurance risk. * Social insurance can be many things to many people in many countries. But a summary of its essence is that it is a collection of insurance coverages (including components of life insurance, disability income insurance, unemployment insurance, health insurance, and others), plus retirement savings, that requires participation by all citizens. By forcing everyone in society to be a policyholder and pay premiums, it ensures that everyone can become a claimant when or if he/she needs to. Along the way this inevitably becomes related to other concepts such as the justice system and the welfare state. This is a large, complicated topic that engenders tremendous debate, which can be further studied in the following articles (and others): o National Insurance o Social safety net o Social security o Social Security debate (United States) o Social Security (United States) o Social welfare provision * Stop-loss insurance provides protection against catastrophic or unpredictable losses. It is purchased by organizations who do not want to assume 100% of the liability for losses arising from the plans. Under a stop-loss policy, the insurance company becomes liable for losses that exceed certain limits called deductibles. [edit] Closed community self-insurance Some communities prefer to create virtual insurance amongst themselves by other means than contractual risk transfer, which assigns explicit numerical values to risk. A number of religious groups, including the Amish and some Muslim groups, depend on support provided by their communities when disasters strike. The risk presented by any given person is assumed collectively by the community who all bear the cost of rebuilding lost property and supporting people whose needs are suddenly greater after a loss of some kind. In supportive communities where others can be trusted to follow community leaders, this tacit form of insurance can work. In this manner the community can even out the extreme differences in insurability that exist among its members. Some further justification is also provided by invoking the moral hazard of explicit insurance contracts. In the United Kingdom, The Crown (which, for practical purposes, meant the Civil service) did not insure property such as government buildings. If a government building was damaged, the cost of repair would be met from public funds because, in the long run, this was cheaper than paying insurance premiums. Since many UK government buildings have been sold to property companies, and rented back, this arrangement is now less common and may have disappeared altogether. [edit] Insurance companies Insurance companies may be classified into two groups: * Life insurance companies, which sell life insurance, annuities and pensions products. * Non-life, General, or Property/Casualty insurance companies, which sell other types of insurance. General insurance companies can be further divided into these sub categories. * Standard Lines * Excess Lines In most countries, life and non-life insurers are subject to different regulatory regimes and different tax and accounting rules. The main reason for the distinction between the two types of company is that life, annuity, and pension business is very long-term in nature ? coverage for life assurance or a pension can cover risks over many decades. By contrast, non-life insurance cover usually covers a shorter period, such as one year. In the United States, standard line insurance companies are "mainstream" insurers. These are the companies that typically insure autos, homes or businesses. They use pattern or "cookie-cutter" policies without variation from one person to the next. They usually have lower premiums than excess lines and can sell directly to individuals. They are regulated by state laws that can restrict the amount they can charge for insurance policies. Excess line insurance companies (aka Excess and Surplus) typically insure risks not covered by the standard lines market. They are broadly referred as being all insurance placed with non-admitted insurers. Non-admitted insurers are not licensed in the states where the risks are located. These companies have more flexibility and can react faster than standard insurance companies because they are not required to file rates and forms as the "admitted" carriers do. However, they still have substantial regulatory requirements placed upon them. State laws generally require insurance placed with surplus line agents and brokers not to be available through standard licensed insurers. Insurance companies are generally classified as either mutual or stock companies. Mutual companies are owned by the policyholders, while stockholders (who may or may not own policies) own stock insurance companies. Demutualization of mutual insurers to form stock companies, as well as the formation of a hybrid known as a mutual holding company, became common in some countries, such as the United States, in the late 20th century. Other possible forms for an insurance company include reciprocals, in which policyholders 'reciprocate' in sharing risks, and Lloyds organizations. Insurance companies are rated by various agencies such as A. M. Best. The ratings include the company's financial strength, which measures its ability to pay claims. It also rates financial instruments issued by the insurance company, such as bonds, notes, and securitization products. Reinsurance companies are insurance companies that sell policies to other insurance companies, allowing them to reduce their risks and protect themselves from very large losses. The reinsurance market is dominated by a few very large companies, with huge reserves. A reinsurer may also be a direct writer of insurance risks as well. Captive insurance companies may be defined as limited-purpose insurance companies established with the specific objective of financing risks emanating from their parent group or groups. This definition can sometimes be extended to include some of the risks of the parent company's customers. In short, it is an in-house self-insurance vehicle. Captives may take the form of a "pure" entity (which is a 100% subsidiary of the self-insured parent company); of a "mutual" captive (which insures the collective risks of members of an industry); and of an "association" captive (which self-insures individual risks of the members of a professional, commercial or industrial association). Captives represent commercial, economic and tax advantages to their sponsors because of the reductions in costs they help create and for the ease of insurance risk management and the flexibility for cash flows they generate. Additionally, they may provide coverage of risks which is neither available nor offered in the traditional insurance market at reasonable prices. The types of risk that a captive can underwrite for their parents include property damage, public and product liability, professional indemnity, employee benefits, employers' liability, motor and medical aid expenses. The captive's exposure to such risks may be limited by the use of reinsurance. Captives are becoming an increasingly important component of the risk management and risk financing strategy of their parent. This can be understood against the following background: * heavy and increasing premium costs in almost every line of coverage; * difficulties in insuring certain types of fortuitous risk; * differential coverage standards in various parts of the world; * rating structures which reflect market trends rather than individual loss experience; * insufficient credit for deductibles and/or loss control efforts. There are also companies known as 'insurance consultants'. Like a mortgage broker, these companies are paid a fee by the customer to shop around for the best insurance policy amongst many companies. Similar to an insurance consultant, an 'insurance broker' also shops around for the best insurance policy amongst many companies. However, with insurance brokers, the fee is usually paid in the form of commission from the insurer that is selected rather than directly from the client. Neither insurance consultants nor insurance brokers are insurance companies and no risks are transferred to them in insurance transactions. Third party administrators are companies that perform underwriting and sometimes claims handling services for insurance companies. These companies often have special expertise that the insurance companies do not have. The financial stability and strength of an insurance company should be a major consideration when buying an insurance contract. An insurance premium paid currently provides coverage for losses that might arise many years in the future. For that reason, the viability of the insurance carrier is very important. In recent years, a number of insurance companies have become insolvent, leaving their policyholders with no coverage (or coverage only from a government-backed insurance pool or other arrangement with less attractive payouts for losses). A number of independent rating agencies, such as Best's, Fitch, Standard & Poor's, and Moody's Investors Service, provide information and rate the financial viability of insurance companies. [edit] Global insurance industry Life insurance premia written in 2005 Non-life insurance premia written in 2005 Global insurance premiums grew by 11% in 2007 (or 3.3% in real terms) to reach $4.1 trillion. The macro-economic environment was characterised by slower economic growth in 2007 and rising inflation. Profitability improved in life insurance and fell slightly in the non-life sector during the year. Life insurance premiums grew by 12.6%, accelerating in the advanced economies with the exception of Japan and Continental Europe. Non-life insurance premiums grew by 7.6% during the year. Figures for premium income are not yet available for 2008, but the insurance industry is likely to see a slowdown in new business and falling investment revenue. Advanced economies account for the bulk of global insurance. With premium income of $1,681bn, Europe was the most important region, followed by North America ($1,330bn) and Asia ($814bn). The top four countries accounted for nearly 60% of premiums in 2007. The US and UK alone accounted for 42% of world insurance, much higher than their 7% share of the global population. Emerging markets accounted for over 85% of the world?s population but generated only around 10% of premiums. [15] [edit] Controversies [edit] Insurance insulates too much By creating a "security blanket" for its insureds, an insurance company may inadvertently find that its insureds may not be as risk-averse as they might otherwise be (since, by definition, the insured has transferred the risk to the insurer,) a concept known as moral hazard. To reduce their own financial exposure, insurance companies have contractual clauses that mitigate their obligation to provide coverage if the insured engages in behavior that grossly magnifies their risk of loss or liability.[citation needed] For example, life insurance companies may require higher premiums or deny coverage altogether to people who work in hazardous occupations or engage in dangerous sports. Liability insurance providers do not provide coverage for liability arising from intentional torts committed by the insured. Even if a provider were so irrational as to want to provide such coverage, it is against the public policy of most countries to allow such insurance to exist, and thus it is usually illegal.[citation needed] [edit] Complexity of insurance policy contracts Insurance policies can be complex and some policyholders may not understand all the fees and coverages included in a policy. As a result, people may buy policies on unfavorable terms. In response to these issues, many countries have enacted detailed statutory and regulatory regimes governing every aspect of the insurance business, including minimum standards for policies and the ways in which they may be advertised and sold. For example, most insurance policies in the English language today have been carefully drafted in plain English; the industry learned the hard way that many courts will not enforce policies against insureds when the judges themselves cannot understand what the policies are saying. Many institutional insurance purchasers buy insurance through an insurance broker. While on the surface it appears the broker represents the buyer (not the insurance company), and typically counsels the buyer on appropriate coverage and policy limitations, it should be noted that in the vast majority of cases a broker's compensation comes in the form of a commission as a percentage of the insurance premium, creating a conflict of interest in that the broker's financial interest is tilted towards encouraging an insured to purchase more insurance than might be necessary at a higher price. A broker generally holds contracts with many insurers, thereby allowing the broker to "shop" the market for the best rates and coverage possible. Insurance may also be purchased through an agent. Unlike a broker, who represents the policyholder, an agent represents the insurance company from whom the policyholder buys. An agent can represent more than one company. An independent insurance consultant advises insureds on a fee-for-service retainer, similar to an attorney, and thus offers completely independent advice, free of the financial conflict of interest of brokers and/or agents. However, such a consultant must still work through brokers and/or agents in order to secure coverage for their clients. [edit] Redlining Redlining is the practice of denying insurance coverage in specific geographic areas, supposedly because of a high likelihood of loss, while the alleged motivation is unlawful discrimination. Racial profiling or redlining has a long history in the property insurance industry in the United States. From a review of industry underwriting and marketing materials, court documents, and research by government agencies, industry and community groups, and academics, it is clear that race has long affected and continues to affect the policies and practices of the insurance industry.[16] In July, 2007, The Federal Trade Commission released a report presenting the results of a study concerning credit-based insurance scores and automobile insurance. The study found that these scores are effective predictors of the claims that consumers will file. (http://www2.ftc.gov/os/2007/07/P044804FACTA_Report_Credit-Based_Insurance_Scores.pdf) All states have provisions in their rate regulation laws or in their fair trade practice acts that prohibit unfair discrimination, often called redlining, in setting rates and making insurance available.[17] In determining premiums and premium rate structures, insurers consider quantifiable factors, including location, credit scores, gender, occupation, marital status, and education level. However, the use of such factors is often considered to be unfair or unlawfully discriminatory, and the reaction against this practice has in some instances led to political disputes about the ways in which insurers determine premiums and regulatory intervention to limit the factors used. An insurance underwriter's job is to evaluate a given risk as to the likelihood that a loss will occur. Any factor that causes a greater likelihood of loss should theoretically be charged a higher rate. This basic principle of insurance must be followed if insurance companies are to remain solvent.[citation needed] Thus, "discrimination" against (i.e., negative differential treatment of) potential insureds in the risk evaluation and premium-setting process is a necessary by-product of the fundamentals of insurance underwriting. For instance, insurers charge older people significantly higher premiums than they charge younger people for term life insurance. Older people are thus treated differently than younger people (i.e., a distinction is made, discrimination occurs). The rationale for the differential treatment goes to the heart of the risk a life insurer takes: Old people are likely to die sooner than young people, so the risk of loss (the insured's death) is greater in any given period of time and therefore the risk premium must be higher to cover the greater risk. However, treating insureds differently when there is no actuarially sound reason for doing so is unlawful discrimination. What is often missing from the debate is that prohibiting the use of legitimate, actuarially sound factors means that an insufficient amount is being charged for a given risk, and there is thus a deficit in the system.[citation needed] The failure to address the deficit may mean insolvency and hardship for all of a company's insureds.[citation needed] The options for addressing the deficit seem to be the following: Charge the deficit to the other policyholders or charge it to the government (i.e., externalize outside of the company to society at large).[citation needed] [edit] Insurance patents Further information: Insurance patent New assurance products can now be protected from copying with a business method patent in the United States. A recent example of a new insurance product that is patented is Usage Based auto insurance. Early versions were independently invented and patented by a major U.S. auto insurance company, Progressive Auto Insurance (U.S. Patent 5,797,134) and a Spanish independent inventor, Salvador Minguijon Perez (EP patent 0700009). Many independent inventors are in favor of patenting new insurance products since it gives them protection from big companies when they bring their new insurance products to market. Independent inventors account for 70% of the new U.S. patent applications in this area. Many insurance executives are opposed to patenting insurance products because it creates a new risk for them. The Hartford insurance company, for example, recently had to pay $80 million to an independent inventor, Bancorp Services, in order to settle a patent infringement and theft of trade secret lawsuit for a type of corporate owned life insurance product invented and patented by Bancorp. There are currently about 150 new patent applications on insurance inventions filed per year in the United States. The rate at which patents have issued has steadily risen from 15 in 2002 to 44 in 2006. [18] Inventors can now have their insurance U.S. patent applications reviewed by the public in the Peer to Patent program.[19] The first insurance patent application to be posted was US2009005522 ?Risk assessment company?. It was posted on March 6, 2009. This patent application describes a method for increasing the ease of changing insurance companies.[20] [edit] The insurance industry and rent seeking Certain insurance products and practices have been described as rent seeking by critics.[citation needed] That is, some insurance products or practices are useful primarily because of legal benefits, such as reducing taxes, as opposed to providing protection against risks of adverse events. Under United States tax law, for example, most owners of variable annuities and variable life insurance can invest their premium payments in the stock market and defer or eliminate paying any taxes on their investments until withdrawals are made. Sometimes this tax deferral is the only reason people use these products.[citation needed] Another example is the legal infrastructure which allows life insurance to be held in an irrevocable trust which is used to pay an estate tax while the proceeds themselves are immune from the estate tax. What Everyone Needs to Know about Health Insurance Why do people desire health insurance? If you answer "to pay for medical expenses", stop for a minute. Do you have food insurance to pay for food expenses, or textile insurance to pay for clothes? Of course not. We recognize that insurance makes no sense for food and clothing. Why do we treat medical expenses differently, expecting routine care to be covered by insurance? What is insurance really about? Insurance is a vehicle for spreading risk. The participants prefer a small but certain cost instead of a large but unlikely cost. Let's proceed by analogy, using household fire insurance to explain some important features of insurance in general, and health insurance in particular. The odds of your home burning down are low, but the cost if it happens is tremendous. For most people, the uninsured loss of their home would be a ruinous financial burden. By purchasing insurance, they are protected from the catastrophe, but must regularly pay an insurance premium to get this protection. As economists never tire of saying, there are no free lunches. In total, insurance premiums must exceed insurance claims or the insurer will go out of business. The cost of anything covered by insurance is paid for through insurance premiums. For insurance companies to pay more or higher claims, premiums must correspondingly increase. In the case of health care, the tax-advantaged status of insurance premiums has created a large distortion in the market. General medical spending is only tax-advantaged if it exceeds an certain (uncommon) percentage of your income, but employer-paid insurance premiums are always tax-advantaged. The other mantra of economics (besides "no free lunches") is that incentives matter. Most people don't qualify for the tax benefit on out-of-pocket medical spending, but through their employer they do get the tax benefit for insurance premiums. Because insurance premiums fundamentally match insurance claims, in aggregate, an insurance premium can be considered as simply another way ? a tax-advantaged way ? of paying for health care. The incentive is to pay for medical care through insurance premiums rather than out-of-pocket. This favors insurance plans that offer wider coverage and smaller co-pays or deductibles. If you haven't ever thought of it this way, and therefore think you haven't been affected by the tax incentive, I have good news for you: You didn't have to think of it, because your employer and the insurance companies already figured it out. The process of economic competition has brought you the tax benefit even as you were unaware of it. An interesting historical note in this area is that employer-provided health insurance grew out of price and wage controls during World War II. Prohibited from raising wages, employers competed for employees by raising non-wage benefits such as health insurance. If you stop to think for a moment, doesn't it seem strange that individuals themselves pay for all kinds of insurance except health insurance? What sense does it make for any kind of insurance to be tied to your job? It doesn't; it's a legacy of wartime economic intervention that tax incentives have made permanent. Whenever a market doesn't make sense, look for government intervention. You'll find it. What are the effects of low co-pay/deductible, wide-coverage health insurance? Consumers don't pay much attention to price. (When was the last time you compared different doctors' prices for an office visit? If your co-pay is always the same, you don't care what the total cost is.) The aggregative nature of health insurance means that any individual's health care decisions have a negligible impact on premiums. The incentive is to consume more, because other people bear almost all the cost. When large numbers of people do this, premiums increase. This is a description of what has been happening in the United States over the past several years. As aggregate systems of payment grow, the system more and more resembles a socialist one. The end state of this trend, nationalized health care, is within sight and is positively desired by many. Socialism only strengthens the perverse incentive to consume as much health care as possible. Socialist systems "solve" the problem of ballooning costs by rationing. In Canada it takes months to get an MRI scan; in England it takes years. Rationing has come to the United States also, in the form of HMOs denying treatments. Fortunately, in the United States, federalism has made it possible to experiment with and to end socialist systems before they reach their full destructive potential. (That program, incidentally, was very similar to Kerry's national health care plan. Its cancellation ? by a Democratic governor ? should give supporters of Kerry's plan serious pause and reflection.) What would I like to see? I would like to see a move back toward insurance as insurance ? protection against catastrophe ? instead of an aggregate payment system for health care. The way to achieve this is to end the tax advantage of employer-paid premiums over out-of-pocket payment. Health Savings Accounts do this by giving the same tax advantage to both, making high-deductible (catastrophic) coverage attractive again. This form of coverage restores the incentive of individuals to pay attention to price, rekindling economic competition and simultaneously reducing excessive consumption of health care. The most serious objection to my proposal is that people who have chronic conditions will be worse off. As people who are low consumers of health care migrate to catastrophic coverage, the subsidy they had been implicitly providing to the chronically ill will be reduced. This is true, and in fact is a major personal motivation for me to switch to a catastrophic coverage plan with a Health Savings Account. I don't want to be involved in a quasi-socialist scheme paying for other peoples' medical bills. This is a complicated matter to address and requires additional background. Imagine a town filled with very similar homes, each with a small risk of fire. If everyone buys an insurance policy, the people whose houses burn down are covered. The others have lost a little money paying premiums. Ordinarily people are happy to do this; most people prefer a small but certain cost over a large but unlikely cost. So far we have assumed the risk is evenly distributed. What if it isn't? What if the investigation of a fire showed that it was caused by particularly bad wiring, and that it was known exactly half the homes in town had been wired similarly and were therefore at increased risk of burning down? This discovery changes the risk assessment. Fires in half of the homes are more likely than had been previously realized. Higher claims must mean higher premiums. (There are no free lunches.) At this point the insurer faces an alternative. Should everybody pay higher premiums to cover the overall higher rate of claims, or should just the high-risk group pay higher premiums? The free-market outcome would be for only the high-risk group to pay higher premiums. If the insurer tried to raise everyone's premium, the low-risk group would be unhappy and would switch to a competing insurer who offered the original premium on the condition of knowing the house had low-risk wiring. Because the risk groups are identifiable, the natural outcome is a separation between them. Each person would be in an insurance pool with others of a similar risk profile, and their premiums would reflect their risk. (DWL: Please no nitpicking about situations without stable equilibria, I'm trying to keep this simple!) The alternative of everyone paying a higher premium could be obtained through government intervention. However, it contains an implicit transfer of funds from the low-risk group to the high-risk group. That arrangement would be favored by the high-risk group but resented by the low-risk group. Because the situation is politically created, the friction between those two groups becomes a political matter, with all that that implies. The example of discovering bad wiring is analogous to a person discovering they have significant risk factors for a serious disease. It increases their likelihood of making insurance claims. Adjusting fire insurance premiums based on the quality of the house's wiring is analogous to adjusting health insurance premiums based on risk factors. Chronic conditions may be thought of as a risk with probability 1. Just as bad wiring is in no way the fault of the homeowner, a chronic condition may be (or in the case of genetics, is) in no way the fault of the patient. However, insurance is based on risk, not on fault or need. There is no free lunch in insurance or anywhere else. On an aggregate basis, every person should expect to pay more in premiums than they ever collect in claims. Insurance isn't a vehicle to save money. Insurance isn't a vehicle to pay for expenses. Insurance is a vehicle to dilute risk. If you have any other expectation, you will be disappointed. In a free market, people with chronic conditions will not be subsidized through the insurance system by people without chronic conditions. And that is as it should be. No one has the right to force the cost of their higher risk to be shouldered by someone else. Not in fire insurance, and not in health insurance. The fair outcome is to be in an insurance pool with people of similar risk. You may find it morally repulsive that the chronically sick must pay the most out-of-pocket. Yet it is undeniably true that they are the highest-risk group. I encourage you to ease your conscience with your wallet, not your vote ? give to medical charities or directly to those in need. Do not hijack and politicize the insurance system. That leads to socialism and the destruction of effective health care for everyone. Let insurance be insurance, and let charity be charity. Do not confuse the two. Lawyer A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person licensed to practice law."[1] Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain stability, and deliver justice. Working as a lawyer involves the practical application of abstract legal theories and knowledge to solve specific individualized problems, or to advance the interests of those who retain (i.e., hire) lawyers to perform legal services. The role of the lawyer varies significantly across legal jurisdictions, and so it can be treated here in only the most general terms.[2][3] More information is available in country-specific Terminology In practice, legal jurisdictions exercise their right to determine who is recognized as being a lawyer; as a result, the meaning of the term "lawyer" may vary from place to place.[4] * In New Zealand and Australia the word "lawyer" is used to refer to both barristers and solicitors (whether in private practice or practising as corporate in-house counsel). * In Canada, the word "lawyer" only refers to individuals who have been called to the bar or have qualified as civil law notaries in the province of Quebec. Common law lawyers in Canada may also be known as "barristers and solicitors", but should not be referred to as "attorneys", since that term has a different meaning in Canadian usage. However, in Quebec, civil law advocates (or avocats in French) often call themselves "attorney" and sometimes "barrister and solicitor". * In England, "lawyer" is used loosely to refer to a broad variety of law-trained persons. It includes practitioners such as barristers, solicitors, legal executives and licensed conveyancers; and people who are involved with the law but do not practise it on behalf of individual clients, such as judges, court clerks, and drafters of legislation. * In India, the term "lawyer" is often colloquially used, but the official term is "advocate" as prescribed under the Advocates Act, 1961.[5] * In Scotland, the word "lawyer" refers to a more specific group of legally trained people. It specifically includes advocates and solicitors. In a generic sense, it may also include judges and law-trained support staff. * In the United States, the term generally refers to attorneys who may practice law; it is never used to refer to patent agents[6] or paralegals.[7] * Other nations tend to have comparable terms for the analogous concept. [edit] Responsibilities In most countries, particularly civil law countries, there has been a tradition of giving many legal tasks to a variety of civil law notaries, clerks, and scriveners.[8][9] These countries do not have "lawyers" in the American sense, insofar as that term refers to a single type of general-purpose legal services provider;[10] rather, their legal professions consist of a large number of different kinds of law-trained persons, known as jurists, of which only some are advocates who are licensed to practice in the courts.[11][12][13] It is difficult to formulate accurate generalizations that cover all the countries with multiple legal professions, because each country has traditionally had its own peculiar method of dividing up legal work among all its different types of legal professionals.[14] Notably, England, the mother of the common law jurisdictions, emerged from the Dark Ages with similar complexity in its legal professions, but then evolved by the 19th century to a single dichotomy between barristers and solicitors. An equivalent dichotomy developed between advocates and procurators in some civil law countries, though these two types did not always monopolize the practice of law as much as barristers and solicitors, in that they always coexisted with civil law notaries.[15][16][17] Several countries that originally had two or more legal professions have since fused or united their professions into a single type of lawyer.[18][19][20][21] Most countries in this category are common law countries, though France, a civil law country, merged together its jurists in 1990 and 1991 in response to Anglo-American competition.[22] In countries with fused professions, a lawyer is usually permitted to carry out all or nearly all the responsibilities listed below. [edit] Oral argument in the courts Arguing a client's case before a judge or jury in a court of law is the traditional province of the barrister in England, and of advocates in some civil law jurisdictions.[23] However, the boundary between barristers and solicitors has evolved. In England today, the barrister monopoly covers only appellate courts, and barristers must compete directly with solicitors in many trial courts.[24] In countries like the United States that have fused legal professions, there are trial lawyers who specialize in trying cases in court, but trial lawyers do not have a de jure monopoly like barristers. In some countries, litigants have the option of arguing pro se, or on their own behalf. It is common for litigants to appear unrepresented before certain courts like small claims courts; indeed, many such courts do not allow lawyers to speak for their clients, in an effort to save money for all participants in a small case.[25] In other countries, like Venezuela, no one may appear before a judge unless represented by a lawyer.[26] The advantage of the latter regime is that lawyers are familiar with the court's customs and procedures, and make the legal system more efficient for all involved. Unrepresented parties often damage their own credibility or slow the court down as a result of their inexperience.[27][28] [edit] Research and drafting of court papers Often, lawyers brief a court in writing on the issues in a case before the issues can be orally argued. They may have to perform extensive research into relevant facts and law while drafting legal papers and preparing for oral argument. In England, the usual division of labour is that a solicitor will obtain the facts of the case from the client and then brief a barrister (usually in writing).[29] The barrister then researches and drafts the necessary court pleadings (which will be filed and served by the solicitor) and orally argues the case.[30] In Spain, the procurator merely signs and presents the papers to the court, but it is the advocate who drafts the papers and argues the case.[31] In some countries, like Japan, a scrivener or clerk may fill out court forms and draft simple papers for lay persons who cannot afford or do not need attorneys, and advise them on how to manage and argue their own cases.[32] [edit] Advocacy (written and oral) in administrative hearings In most developed countries, the legislature has granted original jurisdiction over highly technical matters to executive branch administrative agencies which oversee such things. As a result, some lawyers have become specialists in administrative law. In a few countries, there is a special category of jurists with a monopoly over this form of advocacy; for example, France formerly had conseil juridiques (who were merged into the main legal profession in 1991).[33] In other countries, like the United States, lawyers have been effectively barred by statute from certain types of administrative hearings in order to preserve their informality.[34] [edit] Client intake and counseling (with regard to pending litigation) An important aspect of a lawyer's job is developing and managing relationships with clients (or the client's employees, if the lawyer works in-house for a government or corporation). The client-lawyer relationship often begins with an intake interview where the lawyer gets to know the client personally, discovers the facts of the client's case, clarifies what the client wants to accomplish, shapes the client's expectations as to what actually can be accomplished, begins to develop various claims or defenses, and explains his or her fees to the client.[35][36] In England, only solicitors were traditionally in direct contact with the client.[37] The solicitor retained a barrister if one was necessary and acted as an intermediary between the barrister and the client.[38] In most cases a barrister would be obliged, under what is known as the "cab rank rule", to accept instructions for a case in an area in which they held themselves out as practising, at a court at which they normally appeared and at their usual rates.[39][40] [edit] Legal advice Main article: Legal advice Legal advice is the application of abstract principles of law to the concrete facts of the client's case in order to advise the client about what they should do next. In many countries, only a properly licensed lawyer may provide legal advice to clients for good consideration, even if no lawsuit is contemplated or is in progress.[41][42][43] Therefore, even conveyancers and corporate in-house counsel must first get a license to practice, though they may actually spend very little of their careers in court. Failure to obey such a rule is the crime of unauthorized practice of law.[44] In other countries, jurists who hold law degrees are allowed to provide legal advice to individuals or to corporations, and it is irrelevant if they lack a license and cannot appear in court.[45][46] Some countries go further; in England and Wales, there is no general prohibition on the giving of legal advice.[47] Sometimes civil law notaries are allowed to give legal advice, as in Belgium.[48] In many countries, non-jurist accountants may provide what is technically legal advice in tax and accounting matters.[49] [edit] Protecting intellectual property In virtually all countries, patents, trademarks, industrial designs and other forms of intellectual property must be formally registered with a government agency in order to receive maximum protection under the law. The division of such work among lawyers, licensed non-lawyer jurists/agents, and ordinary clerks or scriveners varies greatly from one country to the next.[32][50] [edit] Negotiating and drafting contracts In some countries, the negotiating and drafting of contracts is considered to be similar to the provision of legal advice, so that it is subject to the licensing requirement explained above.[51] In others, jurists or notaries may negotiate or draft contracts.[52] Lawyers in some civil law countries traditionally deprecated "transactional law" or "business law" as beneath them. French law firms developed transactional departments only in the 1990s when they started to lose business to international firms based in the United States and the United Kingdom (where solicitors have always done transactional work).[53] [edit] Conveyancing Conveyancing is the drafting of the documents necessary for the transfer of real property, such as deeds and mortgages. In some jurisdictions, all real estate transactions must be carried out by a lawyer (or a solicitor where that distinction still exists).[54] Such a monopoly is quite valuable from the lawyer's point of view; historically, conveyancing accounted for about half of English solicitors' income (though this has since changed),[55] and a 1978 study showed that conveyancing "accounts for as much as 80 percent of solicitor-client contact in New South Wales."[56] In most common law jurisdictions outside of the United States, this monopoly arose from an 1804 law[57] that was introduced by William Pitt the Younger as a quid pro quo for the raising of fees on the certification of legal professionals such as barristers, solicitors, attorneys and notaries.[58] In others, the use of a lawyer is optional and banks, title companies, or realtors may be used instead.[59] In some civil law jurisdictions, real estate transactions are handled by civil law notaries.[60] In England and Wales a special class of legal professional?the licensed conveyancer?is also allowed to carry out conveyancing services for reward.[61] [edit] Carrying out the intent of the deceased In many countries, only lawyers have the legal authority to draft wills, trusts, and any other documents that ensure the efficient disposition of a person's property after death. In some civil law countries this responsibility is handled by civil law notaries.[52] In the United States, the estates of the deceased must generally be administered by a court through probate. American lawyers have a profitable monopoly on dispensing advice about probate law (which has been heavily criticized).[62] [edit] Prosecution and defense of criminal suspects In many civil law countries, prosecutors are trained and employed as part of the judiciary; they are law-trained jurists, but may not necessarily be lawyers in the sense that the word is used in the common law world.[63] In common law countries, prosecutors are usually lawyers holding regular licenses who simply happen to work for the government office that files criminal charges against suspects. Criminal defense lawyers specialize in the defense of those charged with any crimes.[64] [edit] Education Main article: Legal education The educational prerequisites to becoming a lawyer vary greatly from country to country. In some countries, law is taught by a faculty of law, which is a department of a university's general undergraduate college.[65] Law students in those countries pursue a Master or Bachelor of Laws degree. In some countries it is common or even required for students to earn another bachelor's degree at the same time. Nor is the LL.B the sole obstacle; it is often followed by a series of advanced examinations, apprenticeships, and additional coursework at special government institutes.[66] In other countries, particularly the United States, law is primarily taught at law schools. In the United States[67] and countries following the American model, (such as Canada[68] with the exception of the province of Quebec) law schools are graduate/professional schools where a bachelor's degree is a prerequisite for admission. Most law schools are part of universities but a few are independent institutions. Law schools in the United States (and many in Canada and elsewhere) award graduating students a J.D. (Juris Doctor/Doctor of Jurisprudence) (as opposed to the Bachelor of Laws) as the practitioner's law degree. Many schools also offer post-doctoral law degrees such as the LL.M (Legum Magister/Master of Laws), or the S.J.D. (Scientiae Juridicae Doctor/Doctor of Juridical Science) for students interested in advancing their research knowledge and credentials in a specific area of law.[69] The methods and quality of legal education vary widely. Some countries require extensive clinical training in the form of apprenticeships or special clinical courses.[70] Others do not, like Venezuela.[71] A few countries prefer to teach through assigned readings of judicial opinions (the casebook method) followed by intense in-class cross-examination by the professor (the Socratic method).[72][73] Many others have only lectures on highly abstract legal doctrines, which forces young lawyers to figure out how to actually think and write like a lawyer at their first apprenticeship (or job).[74][75][76] Depending upon the country, a typical class size could range from five students in a seminar to five hundred in a giant lecture room. In the United States, law schools maintain small class sizes, and as such, grant admissions on a more limited and competitive basis.[77] Some countries, particularly industrialized ones, have a traditional preference for full-time law programs,[78] while in developing countries, students often work full- or part-time to pay the tuition and fees of their part-time law programs.[79][80] Law schools in developing countries share several common problems, such as an overreliance on practicing judges and lawyers who treat teaching as a part-time hobby (and a concomitant scarcity of full-time law professors);[81][82] incompetent faculty with questionable credentials;[83] and textbooks that lag behind the current state of the law by two or three decades.[81][84] [edit] Earning the right to practice law Main article: Admission to practice law Some jurisdictions grant a "diploma privilege" to certain institutions, so that merely earning a degree or credential from those institutions is the primary qualification for practicing law.[85] Mexico allows anyone with a law degree to practice law.[86] However, in a large number of countries, a law student must pass a bar examination (or a series of such examinations) before receiving a license to practice.[85][87][88] In a handful of U.S. states, one may become an attorney (a so-called country lawyer) by simply "reading law" and passing the bar examination, without having to attend law school first (although very few people actually become lawyers that way).[89] Some countries require a formal apprenticeship with an experienced practitioner, while others do not.[90] For example, a few jurisdictions still allow an apprenticeship in place of any kind of formal legal education (though the number of persons who actually become lawyers that way is increasingly rare).[91] [edit] Career structure U.S. President Abraham Lincoln is a famous example of a lawyer-turned-politician. The career structure of lawyers varies widely from one country to the next. [edit] Common law/civil law In most common law countries, especially those with fused professions, lawyers have many options over the course of their careers. Besides private practice, they can become a prosecutor, government counsel, corporate in-house counsel, administrative law judge, judge, arbitrator, law professor, or politician.[92] There are also many non-legal jobs which legal training is good preparation for, such as corporate executive, government administrator, investment banker, entrepreneur, or journalist.[93] In developing countries like India, a large majority of law students never actually practice, but simply use their law degree as a foundation for careers in other fields.[94] In most civil law countries, lawyers generally structure their legal education around their chosen specialty; the boundaries between different types of lawyers are carefully defined and hard to cross. After one earns a law degree, career mobility may be severely constrained.[95] For example, unlike their American counterparts,[96] it is difficult for German judges to leave the bench and become advocates in private practice.[97] Another interesting example is France, where for much of the 20th century, all magistrates were graduates of an elite professional school for judges. Although the French magistracy has begun experimenting with the Anglo-American model of appointing judges from accomplished advocates, the few advocates who have actually joined the bench this way are looked down upon by their colleagues who have taken the traditional route to magistracy.[98] In a few civil law countries, such as Sweden,[99] the legal profession is not rigorously bifurcated and everyone within it can easily change roles and arenas. [edit] Specialization In many countries, lawyers are general practitioners who will take almost any kind of case that walks in the door.[100] In others, there has been a tendency since the start of the 20th century for lawyers to specialize early in their careers.[101][102] In countries where specialization is prevalent, many lawyers specialize in representing one side in one particular area of the law; thus, it is common in the United States to hear of plaintiffs' personal injury attorneys.[103] [edit] Organization Main article: Law firm Lawyers in private practice generally work in specialized businesses known as law firms,[104] with the exception of English barristers. The vast majority of law firms worldwide are small businesses that range in size from 1 to 10 lawyers.[105] The United States, with its large number of firms with more than 50 lawyers, is an exception.[106] The United Kingdom and Australia are also exceptions, as the UK, Australia and the U.S. are now home to several firms with more than 1,000 lawyers after a wave of mergers in the late 1990s. Notably, barristers in England and Wales and some states in Australia do not work in "law firms". Those who offer their services to the general public?as opposed to those working "in house"?are required to be self-employed.[107] Most work in groupings known as "sets" or "chambers", where some administrative and marketing costs are shared. An important effect of this different organizational structure is that there is no conflict of interest where barristers in the same chambers work for opposing sides in a case, and in some specialised chambers this is commonplace. [edit] Professional associations and regulation [edit] Mandatory licensing and membership in professional organizations In some jurisdictions, either the judiciary[108] or the Ministry of Justice[109] directly supervises the admission, licensing, and regulation of lawyers. Other jurisdictions, by statute, tradition, or court order, have granted such powers to a professional association which all lawyers must belong to.[110] In the U.S., such associations are known as mandatory, integrated, or unified bar associations. In the Commonwealth of Nations, similar organizations are known as Inns of Court, bar councils or law societies.[111] In civil law countries, comparable organizations are known as Orders of Advocates,[112] Chambers of Advocates,[113] Colleges of Advocates,[114] Faculties of Advocates,[115] or similar names. Generally, a nonmember caught practicing law may be liable for the crime of unauthorized practice of law.[116] In common law countries with divided legal professions, barristers traditionally belong to the bar council (or an Inn of Court) and solicitors belong to the law society. In the English-speaking world, the largest mandatory professional association of lawyers is the State Bar of California, with 200,000 members. Some countries admit and regulate lawyers at the national level, so that a lawyer, once licensed, can argue cases in any court in the land. This is common in small countries like New Zealand, Japan, and Belgium.[117] Others, especially those with federal governments, tend to regulate lawyers at the state or provincial level; this is the case in the United States,[118] Canada,[119] Australia,[120] and Switzerland,[121] to name a few. Brazil is the most well-known federal government that regulates lawyers at the national level.[122] Some countries, like Italy, regulate lawyers at the regional level,[123] and a few, like Belgium, even regulate them at the local level (that is, they are licensed and regulated by the local equivalent of bar associations but can advocate in courts nationwide).[124] In Germany, lawyers are admitted to regional bars and may appear for clients before all courts nationwide with the exception of the Federal Court of Justice of Germany (Bundesgerichtshof or BGH); oddly, securing admission to the BGH's bar limits a lawyer's practice solely to the supreme federal courts and the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany.[125] Generally, geographic limitations can be troublesome for a lawyer who discovers that his client's cause requires him to litigate in a court beyond the normal geographic scope of his license. Although most courts have special pro hac vice rules for such occasions, the lawyer will still have to deal with a different set of professional responsibility rules, as well as the possibility of other differences in substantive and procedural law. Some countries grant licenses to non-resident lawyers, who may then appear regularly on behalf of foreign clients. Others require all lawyers to live in the jurisdiction or to even hold national citizenship as a prerequisite for receiving a license to practice. But the trend in industrialized countries since the 1970s has been to abolish citizenship and residency restrictions. For example, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down a citizenship requirement on equality rights grounds in 1989,[126] and similarly, American citizenship and residency requirements were struck down as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 and 1985, respectively.[127] The European Court of Justice made similar decisions in 1974 and 1977 striking down citizenship restrictions in Belgium and France.[128] [edit] Who regulates lawyers A key difference among countries is whether lawyers should be regulated solely by an independent judiciary and its subordinate institutions (a self-regulating legal profession),[129] or whether lawyers should be subject to supervision by the Ministry of Justice in the executive branch. In most civil law countries, the government has traditionally exercised tight control over the legal profession in order to ensure a steady supply of loyal judges and bureaucrats. That is, lawyers were expected first and foremost to serve the state, and the availability of counsel for private litigants was an afterthought.[130] Even in civil law countries like Norway which have partially self-regulating professions, the Ministry of Justice is the sole issuer of licenses, and makes its own independent re-evaluation of a lawyer's fitness to practice after a lawyer has been expelled from the Advocates' Association.[109] Brazil is an unusual exception in that its national Order of Advocates has become a fully self-regulating institution (with direct control over licensing) and has successfully resisted government attempts to place it under the control of the Ministry of Labor.[131][132] Of all the civil law countries, Communist countries historically went the farthest towards total state control, with all Communist lawyers forced to practice in collectives by the mid-1950s.[133][134] China is a prime example: technically, the People's Republic of China did not have lawyers, and instead had only poorly-trained, state-employed "legal workers," prior to the enactment of a comprehensive reform package in 1996 by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.[135] In contrast, common law lawyers have traditionally regulated themselves through institutions where the influence of non-lawyers, if any, was weak and indirect (despite nominal state control).[136] Such institutions have been traditionally dominated by private practitioners who opposed strong state control of the profession on the grounds that it would endanger the ability of lawyers to zealously and competently advocate their clients' causes in the adversarial system of justice.[137] However, the concept of the self-regulating profession has been criticized as a sham which serves to legitimize the professional monopoly while protecting the profession from public scrutiny.[138] Disciplinary mechanisms have been astonishingly ineffective, and penalties have been light or nonexistent.[139][140][141] [edit] Voluntary associations of lawyers Lawyers are always free to form voluntary associations of their own, apart from any licensing or mandatory membership that may be required by the laws of their jurisdiction. Like their mandatory counterparts, such organizations may exist at all geographic levels.[86][142] In American English, such associations are known as voluntary bar associations.[143] The largest voluntary professional association of lawyers in the English-speaking world is the American Bar Association. In some countries, like France and Italy, lawyers have also formed trade unions.[144] [edit] Cultural perception of lawyers Hostility towards the legal profession is a widespread phenomenon. The legal profession was abolished in Prussia in 1780 and in France in 1789, though both countries eventually realized that their judicial systems could not function efficiently without lawyers.[145] Complaints about too many lawyers were common in both England and the United States in the 1840s[146][147] Germany in the 1910s,[148] and in Australia,[149] Canada,[150] the United States,[151][152][153] and Scotland[154] in the 1980s. Public distrust of lawyers reached record heights in the United States after the Watergate scandal.[153][155] In the aftermath of Watergate, legal self-help books became popular among those who wished to solve their legal problems without having to deal with lawyers.[156] Lawyer jokes (already a perennial favorite) also soared in popularity in English-speaking North America as a result of Watergate.[157] In 1989, American legal self-help publisher Nolo Press published a 171-page compilation of negative anecdotes about lawyers from throughout human history.[158] In Adventures in Law and Justice (2003), legal researcher Bryan Horrigan dedicated a chapter to "Myths, Fictions, and Realities" about law and illustrated the perennial criticism of lawyers as "amoral [...] guns for hire"[159] with a quote from Ambrose Bierce's satirical The Devil's Dictionary (1911) that summarized the noun as: "LAWYER, n. One skilled in circumvention of the law."[160] More generally, in Legal Ethics: A Comparative Study (2004), law professor Geoffrey C. Hazard, Jr. with Angelo Dondi briefly examined the "regulations attempting to suppress lawyer misconduct" and noted that their similarity around the world was paralleled by a "remarkable consistency" in certain "persistant grievances" about lawyers that transcends both time and locale, from the Bible to medieval England to dynastic China.[161] The authors then generalized these common complaints about lawyers as being classified into five "general categories" as follows: ? * abuse of litigation in various ways, including using dilatory tactics and false evidence and making frivolous arguments to the courts; * preparation of false documentation, such as false deeds, contracts, or wills; * deceiving clients and other persons and misappropriating property; * procrastination in dealings with clients; and * charging excessive fees.[161] ? [edit] Compensation Main article: Attorney's fee Lawyers are paid for their work in a variety of ways. In private practice, they may work for an hourly fee according to a billable hour structure,[162] a contingency fee[163] (usually in cases involving personal injury), or a lump sum payment if the matter is straightforward. Normally, most lawyers negotiate a written fee agreement up front and may require a non-refundable retainer in advance. In many countries there are fee-shifting arrangements by which the loser must pay the winner's fees and costs; the United States is the major exception,[164] although in turn, its legislators have carved out many exceptions to the so-called "American Rule" of no fee shifting. Lawyers working directly on the payroll of governments, nonprofits, and corporations usually earn a regular annual salary.[165] In many countries, with the notable exception of Germany,[166] lawyers can also volunteer their labor in the service of worthy causes through an arrangement called pro bono (for the common good).[167] Traditionally such work was performed on behalf of the poor, but in some countries it has now expanded to many other causes such as the environment. In some countries, there are legal aid lawyers who specialize in providing legal services to the indigent.[168][169] France and Spain even have formal fee structures by which lawyers are compensated by the government for legal aid cases on a per-case basis.[170] A similar system, though not as extensive or generous, operates in Australia, Canada, as well as South Africa.[citation needed] In other countries, legal aid specialists are practically nonexistent. This may be because non-lawyers are allowed to provide such services; in both Italy and Belgium, trade unions and political parties provide what can be characterized as legal aid services.[171] Some legal aid in Belgium is also provided by young lawyer apprentices subsidized by local bar associations (known as the pro deo system), as well as consumer protection nonprofit organizations and Public Assistance Agencies subsidized by local governments.[172] In Germany, mandatory fee structures have enabled widespread implementation of affordable legal expense insurance.[173] [edit] History Main article: History of the legal profession 16th century painting of a civil law notary, by Flemish painter Quentin Massys. A civil law notary is roughly analogous to a common law solicitor, except that, unlike solicitors, civil law notaries do not practice litigation to any degree. [edit] Ancient Greece The earliest people who could be described as "lawyers" were probably the orators of ancient Athens (see History of Athens). However, Athenian orators faced serious structural obstacles. First, there was a rule that individuals were supposed to plead their own cases, which was soon bypassed by the increasing tendency of individuals to ask a "friend" for assistance.[174] However, around the middle of the fourth century, the Athenians disposed of the perfunctory request for a friend.[175] Second, a more serious obstacle, which the Athenian orators never completely overcame, was the rule that no one could take a fee to plead the cause of another. This law was widely disregarded in practice, but was never abolished, which meant that orators could never present themselves as legal professionals or experts.[176] They had to uphold the legal fiction that they were merely an ordinary citizen generously helping out a friend for free, and thus they could never organize into a real profession?with professional associations and titles and all the other pomp and circumstance?like their modern counterparts.[177] Therefore, if one narrows the definition to those men who could practice the legal profession openly and legally, then the first lawyers would have to be the orators of ancient Rome.[178] [edit] Early Ancient Rome A law enacted in 204 BC barred Roman advocates from taking fees, but the law was widely ignored.[179] The ban on fees was abolished by Emperor Claudius, who legalized advocacy as a profession and allowed the Roman advocates to become the first lawyers who could practice openly?but he also imposed a fee ceiling of 10,000 sesterces.[180] This was apparently not much money; the Satires of Juvenal complain that there was no money in working as an advocate.[181] Like their Greek contemporaries, early Roman advocates were trained in rhetoric, not law, and the judges before whom they argued were also not law-trained.[182] But very early on, unlike Athens, Rome developed a class of specialists who were learned in the law, known as jurisconsults (iuris consulti).[183] Jurisconsults were wealthy amateurs who dabbled in law as an intellectual hobby; they did not make their primary living from it.[183] They gave legal opinions (responsa) on legal issues to all comers (a practice known as publice respondere).[184] Roman judges and governors would routinely consult with an advisory panel of jurisconsults before rendering a decision, and advocates and ordinary people also went to jurisconsults for legal opinions.[183] Thus, the Romans were the first to have a class of people who spent their days thinking about legal problems, and this is why their law became so "precise, detailed, and technical."[183] [edit] Late Ancient Rome During the Roman Republic and the early Roman Empire, jurisconsults and advocates were unregulated, since the former were amateurs and the latter were technically illegal.[185] Any citizen could call himself an advocate or a legal expert, though whether people believed him would depend upon his personal reputation. This changed once Claudius legalized the legal profession. By the start of the Byzantine Empire, the legal profession had become well-established, heavily regulated, and highly stratified.[186] The centralization and bureaucratization of the profession was apparently gradual at first, but accelerated during the reign of Emperor Hadrian.[187] At the same time, the jurisconsults went into decline during the imperial period.[188] In the words of Fritz Schulz, "by the fourth century things had changed in the eastern Empire: advocates now were really lawyers."[189] For example, by the fourth century, advocates had to be enrolled on the bar of a court to argue before it, they could only be attached to one court at a time, and there were restrictions (which came and went depending upon who was emperor) on how many advocates could be enrolled at a particular court.[190] By the 380s, advocates were studying law in addition to rhetoric (thus reducing the need for a separate class of jurisconsults); in 460, Emperor Leo imposed a requirement that new advocates seeking admission had to produce testimonials from their teachers; and by the sixth century, a regular course of legal study lasting about four years was required for admission.[191] Claudius's fee ceiling lasted all the way into the Byzantine period, though by then it was measured at 100 solidi.[192] Of course, it was widely evaded, either through demands for maintenance and expenses or a sub rosa barter transaction.[192] The latter was cause for disbarment.[192] The notaries (tabelliones) appeared in the late Roman Empire. Like their modern-day descendants, the civil law notaries, they were responsible for drafting wills, conveyances, and contracts.[193] They were ubiquitous and most villages had one.[193] In Roman times, notaries were widely considered to be inferior to advocates and jurisconsults.[193] Roman notaries were not law-trained; they were barely literate hacks who wrapped the simplest transactions in mountains of legal jargon, since they were paid by the line.[194] [edit] Middle Ages After the fall of the western Empire and the onset of the Dark Ages, the legal profession of Western Europe collapsed. As James Brundage has explained: "[by 1140], no one in Western Europe could properly be described as a professional lawyer or a professional canonist in anything like the modern sense of the term 'professional.' "[195] However, from 1150 onward, a small but increasing number of men became experts in canon law but only in furtherance of other occupational goals, such as serving the Roman Catholic Church as priests.[196] From 1190 to 1230, however, there was a crucial shift in which some men began to practice canon law as a lifelong profession in itself.[197] The legal profession's return was marked by the renewed efforts of church and state to regulate it. In 1231 two French councils mandated that lawyers had to swear an oath of admission before practicing before the bishop's courts in their regions, and a similar oath was promulgated by the papal legate in London in 1237.[198] During the same decade, Frederick II, the emperor of the Kingdom of Sicily, imposed a similar oath in his civil courts.[199] By 1250 the nucleus of a new legal profession had clearly formed.[200] The new trend towards professionalization culminated in a controversial proposal at the Second Council of Lyon in 1275 that all ecclesiastical courts should require an oath of admission.[201] Although not adopted by the council, it was highly influential in many such courts throughout Europe.[201] The civil courts in England also joined the trend towards professionalization; in 1275 a statute was enacted that prescribed punishment for professional lawyers guilty of deceit, and in 1280 the mayor's court of the city of London promulgated regulations concerning admission procedures, including the administering of an oath.[202] [edit] Titles Generally speaking, the modern practice is for lawyers to avoid use of any title, although formal practice varies across the world. Historically lawyers in most European countries were addressed with the title of doctor, and countries outside of Europe have generally followed the practice of the European country which had policy influence through "modernization" or "colonialization." The first university degrees, starting with the law school of the University of Bologna (or glossators) in the 11th century, were all law degrees and doctorates.[203] Degrees in other fields did not start until the 13th century, but the doctor continued to be the only degree offered at many of the old universities until the 20th century. Therefore, in many of the southern European countries, including Portugal, Spain and Italy,,[204] lawyers have traditionally been addressed as ?doctor,? a practice which was transferred to many countries in South America[205] (including Macau in China).[206] Because the law degrees are no longer doctorate level degrees, the formal ?doctor? title for lawyers is either seen as archaic or incorrect, although it is still a legal title in Italy and in use in many countries outside of Europe.[207] The title of doctor has never been used to address lawyers in England or other common law countries (with the exception of the United States). This is because until 1846 lawyers in England were not required to have a university degree and were trained by other attorneys by apprenticeship or in the Inns of Court.[208] Since law degrees started to become a requirement for lawyers in England, the degree awarded has been the undergraduate LL.B. Even though most lawyers in the United States do not use any titles, the law degree in that country is the Juris Doctor, a professional doctorate degree,[209] and some J.D. holders in the United States use the title of "Doctor" in professional[210] and academic situations.[211] In countries where holders of the first law degree traditionally use the title of doctor (e.g. Peru, Brazil, Macau, Portugal, Argentina, and Italy),[212] J.D. holders who are attorneys will often use the title of doctor as well.[213] It is not uncommon for English-language lawyers, especially in the United States, to use the honorific suffix "Esq." (for "Esquire"), irrespective of whether the lawyer is male or female.[214] In many Asian countries, the proper title for a lawyer is simply, "lawyer", but holders of the Juris Doctor degree are also called "??" (doctor). Myocardial infarction Myocardial infarction (MI) or acute myocardial infarction (AMI), commonly known as a heart attack, is the interruption of blood supply to part of the heart, causing some heart cells to die. This is most commonly due to occlusion (blockage) of a coronary artery following the rupture of a vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque, which is an unstable collection of lipids (like cholesterol) and white blood cells (especially macrophages) in the wall of an artery. The resulting ischemia (restriction in blood supply) and oxygen shortage, if left untreated for a sufficient period of time, can cause damage or death (infarction) of heart muscle tissue (myocardium). Classical symptoms of acute myocardial infarction include sudden chest pain (typically radiating to the left arm or left side of the neck), shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, palpitations, sweating, and anxiety (often described as a sense of impending doom). Women may experience fewer typical symptoms than men, most commonly shortness of breath, weakness, a feeling of indigestion, and fatigue.[1] Approximately one quarter of all myocardial infarctions are silent, without chest pain or other symptoms. A heart attack is a medical emergency, and people experiencing chest pain are advised to alert their emergency medical services because prompt protection with an external defibrillator can save your life from primary ventricular fibrillation which occurs unexpectedly in 10% of all myocardial infarctions especially during the first hours of symptoms. Contemporary treatment of many myocardial infarctions can result in survival and even good outcomes. While it is true that certain less amenable cases are very massive and rapidly fatal "widowmakers", it is also true that in small attacks with limited damage and optimal treatment the heart muscle can be salvaged. Heart attacks are the leading cause of death for both men and women all over the world.[2] Important risk factors are previous cardiovascular disease (such as angina, a previous heart attack or stroke), older age (especially men over 40 and women over 50), tobacco smoking, high blood levels of certain lipids (triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein or "bad cholesterol") and low levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL, "good cholesterol"), diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, chronic kidney disease, heart failure, excessive alcohol consumption, the abuse of certain drugs (such as cocaine and methamphetamine), and chronic high stress levels.[3][4] Immediate treatment for suspected acute myocardial infarction includes oxygen, aspirin, and sublingual glyceryl trinitrate (colloquially referred to as nitroglycerin and abbreviated as NTG or GTN). Pain relief is also often given, classically morphine sulfate.[5] However, a 2009 review about the use of high flow oxygen for treating myocardial infarction found its administration increased mortality and infarct size, calling into question the recommendation for its routine use.[6] The patient will receive a number of diagnostic tests, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG), a chest X-ray and blood tests to detect elevations in cardiac markers (blood tests to detect heart muscle damage). The most often used markers are the creatine kinase-MB (CK-MB) fraction and the troponin I (TnI) or troponin T (TnT) levels. On the basis of the ECG, a distinction is made between ST elevation MI (STEMI) or non-ST elevation MI (NSTEMI). Most cases of STEMI are treated with thrombolysis or if possible with percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI, angioplasty and stent insertion), provided the hospital has facilities for coronary angiography. NSTEMI is managed with medication, although PCI is often performed during hospital admission. In patients who have multiple blockages and who are relatively stable, or in a few extraordinary emergency cases, bypass surgery of the blocked coronary artery is an option. The phrase "heart attack" is sometimes used incorrectly to describe sudden cardiac death, which may or may not be the result of acute myocardial infarction. A heart attack is different from, but can be the cause of cardiac arrest, which is the stopping of the heartbeat, and cardiac arrhythmia, an abnormal heartbeat. It is also distinct from heart failure, in which the pumping action of the heart is impaired; severe myocardial infarction may lead to heart failure, but not necessarily. Classification There are two basic types of acute myocardial infarction, (1) transmural MI- IS associated with atherosclerosis involving major coronary artery. It can be subclassified into anterior,posterior or inferior. (2) subendocardial MI- involves small area, in the subendocardial wall of the left ventricle,ventricular septum,papillary muscles. Clinically, myocardial infarction is further subclassified into ST elevation MI versus non ST elevation MI based on ECG changes. [edit] Signs and symptoms Rough diagram of pain zones in myocardial infarction (dark red = most typical area, light red = other possible areas, view of the chest). Back view. The onset of symptoms in myocardial infarction (MI) is usually gradual, over several minutes, and rarely instantaneous.[7] Chest pain is the most common symptom of acute myocardial infarction and is often described as a sensation of tightness, pressure, or squeezing. Chest pain due to ischemia (a lack of blood and hence oxygen supply) of the heart muscle is termed angina pectoris. Pain radiates most often to the left arm, but may also radiate to the lower jaw, neck, right arm, back, and epigastrium, where it may mimic heartburn. Levine's sign, in which the patient localizes the chest pain by clenching their fist over the sternum, has classically been thought to be predictive of cardiac chest pain, although a prospective observational study showed that it had a poor positive predictive value.[8] Shortness of breath (dyspnea) occurs when the damage to the heart limits the output of the left ventricle, causing left ventricular failure and consequent pulmonary edema. Other symptoms include diaphoresis (an excessive form of sweating), weakness, light-headedness, nausea, vomiting, and palpitations. These symptoms are likely induced by a massive surge of catecholamines from the sympathetic nervous system[9] which occurs in response to pain and the hemodynamic abnormalities that result from cardiac dysfunction. Loss of consciousness (due to inadequate cerebral perfusion and cardiogenic shock) and even sudden death (frequently due to the development of ventricular fibrillation) can occur in myocardial infarctions. Women and older patients experience atypical symptoms more frequently than their male and younger counterparts.[10] Women also have more symptoms compared to men (2.6 on average vs 1.8 symptoms in men).[10] The most common symptoms of MI in women include dyspnea, weakness, and fatigue. Fatigue, sleep disturbances, and dyspnea have been reported as frequently occurring symptoms which may manifest as long as one month before the actual clinically manifested ischemic event. In women, chest pain may be less predictive of coronary ischemia than in men.[11] Approximately half of all MI patients have experienced warning symptoms such as chest pain prior to the infarction.[12] Approximately one fourth of all myocardial infarctions are silent, without chest pain or other symptoms.[13] These cases can be discovered later on electrocardiograms or at autopsy without a prior history of related complaints. A silent course is more common in the elderly, in patients with diabetes mellitus[14] and after heart transplantation, probably because the donor heart is not connected to nerves of the host.[15] In diabetics, differences in pain threshold, autonomic neuropathy, and psychological factors have been cited as possible explanations for the lack of symptoms.[14] Any group of symptoms compatible with a sudden interruption of the blood flow to the heart are called an acute coronary syndrome.[16] The differential diagnosis includes other catastrophic causes of chest pain, such as pulmonary embolism, aortic dissection, pericardial effusion causing cardiac tamponade, tension pneumothorax, and esophageal rupture.[17] [edit] Causes and risk factors Heart attack rates are higher in association with intense exertion, be it psychological stress or physical exertion, especially if the exertion is more intense than the individual usually performs.[18] Quantitatively, the period of intense exercise and subsequent recovery is associated with about a 6-fold higher myocardial infarction rate (compared with other more relaxed time frames) for people who are physically very fit.[18] For those in poor physical condition, the rate differential is over 35-fold higher.[18] One observed mechanism for this phenomenon is the increased arterial pulse pressure stretching and relaxation of arteries with each heart beat which, as has been observed with intravascular ultrasound, increases mechanical "shear stress" on atheromas and the likelihood of plaque rupture.[18] Acute severe infection, such as pneumonia, can trigger myocardial infarction. A more controversial link is that between Chlamydophila pneumoniae infection and atherosclerosis.[19] While this intracellular organism has been demonstrated in atherosclerotic plaques, evidence is inconclusive as to whether it can be considered a causative factor.[19] Treatment with antibiotics in patients with proven atherosclerosis has not demonstrated a decreased risk of heart attacks or other coronary vascular diseases.[20] There is an association of an increased incidence of a heart attack in the morning hours, more specifically around 9 a.m. [21][22][23]. Some investigators have noticed that the ability of platelets to aggregate varies according to a circadian rhythm, although they have not proven causation.[24] Some investigators theorize that this increased incidence may be related to the circadian variation in cortisol production affecting the concentrations of various cytokines and other mediators of inflammation.[25] [edit] Risk factors Risk factors for atherosclerosis are generally risk factors for myocardial infarction: * Diabetes (with or without insulin resistance) - the single most important risk factor for ischaemic heart disease (IHD) * Tobacco smoking * Hypercholesterolemia (more accurately hyperlipoproteinemia, especially high low density lipoprotein and low high density lipoprotein) * High blood pressure * Family history of ischaemic heart disease (IHD) * Obesity[26] (defined by a body mass index of more than 30 kg/m?, or alternatively by waist circumference or waist-hip ratio). * Age Men acquire an independent risk factor at age 45, Women acquire an independent risk factor at age 55; in addition individuals acquire another independent risk factor if they have a first-degree male relative (brother,father)who suffered a coronary vascular event at or before age 55. Another independent risk factor is acquired if one has a first-degree female relative (mother,sister) who suffered a coronary vascular event at age 65 or younger. * Hyperhomocysteinemia (high homocysteine, a toxic blood amino acid that is elevated when intakes of vitamins B2, B6, B12 and folic acid are insufficient) * Stress (occupations with high stress index are known to have susceptibility for atherosclerosis) * Alcohol Studies show that prolonged exposure to high quantities of alcohol can increase the risk of heart attack Males are more at risk than females.[18] Many of these risk factors are modifiable, so many heart attacks can be prevented by maintaining a healthier lifestyle. Physical activity, for example, is associated with a lower risk profile.[27] Non-modifiable risk factors include age, sex, and family history of an early heart attack (before the age of 60), which is thought of as reflecting a genetic predisposition.[18] Socioeconomic factors such as a shorter education and lower income (particularly in women), and unmarried cohabitation may also contribute to the risk of MI.[28] To understand epidemiological study results, it's important to note that many factors associated with MI mediate their risk via other factors. For example, the effect of education is partially based on its effect on income and marital status.[28] Women who use combined oral contraceptive pills have a modestly increased risk of myocardial infarction, especially in the presence of other risk factors, such as smoking.[29] Inflammation is known to be an important step in the process of atherosclerotic plaque formation.[30] C-reactive protein (CRP) is a sensitive but non-specific marker for inflammation. Elevated CRP blood levels, especially measured with high sensitivity assays, can predict the risk of MI, as well as stroke and development of diabetes.[30] Moreover, some drugs for MI might also reduce CRP levels.[30] The use of high sensitivity CRP assays as a means of screening the general population is advised against, but it may be used optionally at the physician's discretion, in patients who already present with other risk factors or known coronary artery disease.[31] Whether CRP plays a direct role in atherosclerosis remains uncertain.[30] Inflammation in periodontal disease may be linked coronary heart disease, and since periodontitis is very common, this could have great consequences for public health.[32] Serological studies measuring antibody levels against typical periodontitis-causing bacteria found that such antibodies were more present in subjects with coronary heart disease.[33] Periodontitis tends to increase blood levels of CRP, fibrinogen and cytokines;[34] thus, periodontitis may mediate its effect on MI risk via other risk factors.[35] Preclinical research suggests that periodontal bacteria can promote aggregation of platelets and promote the formation of foam cells.[36][37] A role for specific periodontal bacteria has been suggested but remains to be established.[38] Baldness, hair greying, a diagonal earlobe crease (Frank's sign[39]) and possibly other skin features have been suggested as independent risk factors for MI.[40] Their role remains controversial; a common denominator of these signs and the risk of MI is supposed, possibly genetic. [41] Calcium deposition is another part of atherosclerotic plaque formation. Calcium deposits in the coronary arteries can be detected with CT scans. Several studies have shown that coronary calcium can provide predictive information beyond that of classical risk factors.[42][43][44] [edit] Pathophysiology A myocardial infarction occurs when an atherosclerotic plaque slowly builds up in the inner lining of a coronary artery and then suddenly ruptures, totally occluding the artery and preventing blood flow downstream. Main article: Acute coronary syndrome Acute myocardial infarction refers to two subtypes of acute coronary syndrome, namely non-ST-elevated myocardial infarction and ST-elevated myocardial infarction, which are most frequently (but not always) a manifestation of coronary artery disease. The most common triggering event is the disruption of an atherosclerotic plaque in an epicardial coronary artery, which leads to a clotting cascade, sometimes resulting in total occlusion of the artery. Atherosclerosis is the gradual buildup of cholesterol and fibrous tissue in plaques in the wall of arteries (in this case, the coronary arteries), typically over decades. Blood stream column irregularities visible on angiography reflect artery lumen narrowing as a result of decades of advancing atherosclerosis. Plaques can become unstable, rupture, and additionally promote a thrombus (blood clot) that occludes the artery; this can occur in minutes. When a severe enough plaque rupture occurs in the coronary vasculature, it leads to myocardial infarction (necrosis of downstream myocardium). If impaired blood flow to the heart lasts long enough, it triggers a process called the ischemic cascade; the heart cells in the territory of the occluded coronary artery die (chiefly through necrosis) and do not grow back. A collagen scar forms in its place. Recent studies indicate that another form of cell death called apoptosis also plays a role in the process of tissue damage subsequent to myocardial infarction.[45] As a result, the patient's heart will be permanently damaged. This Myocardial scarring also puts the patient at risk for potentially life threatening arrhythmias, and may result in the formation of a ventricular aneurysm that can rupture with catastrophic consequences. Injured heart tissue conducts electrical impulses more slowly than normal heart tissue. The difference in conduction velocity between injured and uninjured tissue can trigger re-entry or a feedback loop that is believed to be the cause of many lethal arrhythmias. The most serious of these arrhythmias is ventricular fibrillation (V-Fib/VF), an extremely fast and chaotic heart rhythm that is the leading cause of sudden cardiac death. Another life threatening arrhythmia is ventricular tachycardia (V-Tach/VT), which may or may not cause sudden cardiac death. However, ventricular tachycardia usually results in rapid heart rates that prevent the heart from pumping blood effectively. Cardiac output and blood pressure may fall to dangerous levels, which can lead to further coronary ischemia and extension of the infarct. The cardiac defibrillator is a device that was specifically designed to terminate these potentially fatal arrhythmias. The device works by delivering an electrical shock to the patient in order to depolarize a critical mass of the heart muscle, in effect "rebooting" the heart. This therapy is time dependent, and the odds of successful defibrillation decline rapidly after the onset of cardiopulmonary arrest. [edit] Diagnosis The diagnosis of myocardial infarction is made by integrating the history of the presenting illness and physical examination with electrocardiogram findings and cardiac markers (blood tests for heart muscle cell damage).[46] A coronary angiogram allows visualization of narrowings or obstructions on the heart vessels, and therapeutic measures can follow immediately. At autopsy, a pathologist can diagnose a myocardial infarction based on anatomopathological findings. A chest radiograph and routine blood tests may indicate complications or precipitating causes and are often performed upon arrival to an emergency department. New regional wall motion abnormalities on an echocardiogram are also suggestive of a myocardial infarction. Echo may be performed in equivocal cases by the on-call cardiologist.[47] In stable patients whose symptoms have resolved by the time of evaluation, technetium-99m 2-methoxyisobutylisonitrile (Tc99m MIBI) or thallium-201 chloride can be used in nuclear medicine to visualize areas of reduced blood flow in conjunction with physiologic or pharmocologic stress.[47][48] Thallium may also be used to determine viability of tissue, distinguishing whether non-functional myocardium is actually dead or merely in a state of hibernation or of being stunned.[49] [edit] Diagnostic criteria WHO criteria[50] formulated in 1979 have classically been used to diagnose MI; a patient is diagnosed with myocardial infarction if two (probable) or three (definite) of the following criteria are satisfied: 1. Clinical history of ischaemic type chest pain lasting for more than 20 minutes 2. Changes in serial ECG tracings 3. Rise and fall of serum cardiac biomarkers such as creatine kinase-MB fraction and troponin The WHO criteria were refined in 2000 to give more prominence to cardiac biomarkers.[51] According to the new guidelines, a cardiac troponin rise accompanied by either typical symptoms, pathological Q waves, ST elevation or depression or coronary intervention are diagnostic of MI. [edit] Physical examination The general appearance of patients may vary according to the experienced symptoms; the patient may be comfortable, or restless and in severe distress with an increased respiratory rate. A cool and pale skin is common and points to vasoconstriction. Some patients have low-grade fever (38?39 ?C). Blood pressure may be elevated or decreased, and the pulse can be become irregular.[52][53] If heart failure ensues, elevated jugular venous pressure and hepatojugular reflux, or swelling of the legs due to peripheral edema may be found on inspection. Rarely, a cardiac bulge with a pace different from the pulse rhythm can be felt on precordial examination. Various abnormalities can be found on auscultation, such as a third and fourth heart sound, systolic murmurs, paradoxical splitting of the second heart sound, a pericardial friction rub and rales over the lung.[52][54] [edit] Electrocardiogram Main article: Electrocardiogram 12-lead electrocardiogram showing ST-segment elevation (orange) in I, aVL and V1-V5 with reciprocal changes (blue) in the inferior leads, indicative of an anterior wall myocardial infarction. The primary purpose of the electrocardiogram is to detect ischemia or acute coronary injury in broad, symptomatic emergency department populations. However, the standard 12 lead ECG has several limitations. An ECG represents a brief sample in time. Because unstable ischemic syndromes have rapidly changing supply versus demand characteristics, a single ECG may not accurately represent the entire picture.[55] It is therefore desirable to obtain serial 12 lead ECGs, particularly if the first ECG is obtained during a pain-free episode. Alternatively, many emergency departments and chest pain centers use computers capable of continuous ST segment monitoring.[56] The standard 12 lead ECG also does not directly examine the right ventricle, and is relatively poor at examining the posterior basal and lateral walls of the left ventricle. In particular, acute myocardial infarction in the distribution of the circumflex artery is likely to produce a nondiagnostic ECG.[55] The use of additional ECG leads like right-sided leads V3R and V4R and posterior leads V7, V8, and V9 may improve sensitivity for right ventricular and posterior myocardial infarction. In spite of these limitations, the 12 lead ECG stands at the center of risk stratification for the patient with suspected acute myocardial infarction. Mistakes in interpretation are relatively common, and the failure to identify high risk features has a negative effect on the quality of patient care.[57] The 12 lead ECG is used to classify patients into one of three groups:[58] 1. those with ST segment elevation or new bundle branch block (suspicious for acute injury and a possible candidate for acute reperfusion therapy with thrombolytics or primary PCI), 2. those with ST segment depression or T wave inversion (suspicious for ischemia), and 3. those with a so-called non-diagnostic or normal ECG. A normal ECG does not rule out acute myocardial infarction. Sometimes the earliest presentation of acute myocardial infarction is the hyperacute T wave, which is treated the same as ST segment elevation.[59] In practice this is rarely seen, because it only exists for 2?30 minutes after the onset of infarction.[60] Hyperacute T waves need to be distinguished from the peaked T waves associated with hyperkalemia.[61] The current guidelines for the ECG diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction require at least 1 mm (0.1 mV) of ST segment elevation in the limb leads, and at least 2 mm elevation in the precordial leads. These elevations must be present in anatomically contiguous leads.[58] (I, aVL, V5, V6 correspond to the lateral wall; V1-V4 correspond to the anterior wall; II, III, aVF correspond to the inferior wall.) This criterion is problematic, however, as acute myocardial infarction is not the most common cause of ST segment elevation in chest pain patients.[62] Over 90% of healthy men have at least 1 mm (0.1 mV) of ST segment elevation in at least one precordial lead.[63] The clinician must therefore be well versed in recognizing the so-called ECG mimics of acute myocardial infarction, which include left ventricular hypertrophy, left bundle branch block, paced rhythm, early repolarization, pericarditis, hyperkalemia, and ventricular aneurysm.[63][64][65] [edit] Cardiac markers Main article: Cardiac marker Cardiac markers or cardiac enzymes are proteins that leak out of injured myocardial cells through their damaged cell membranes into the bloodstream. Until the 1980s, the enzymes SGOT and LDH were used to assess cardiac injury. Now, the markers most widely used in detection of MI are MB subtype of the enzyme creatine kinase and cardiac troponins T and I as they are more specific for myocardial injury. The cardiac troponins T and I which are released within 4?6 hours of an attack of MI and remain elevated for up to 2 weeks, have nearly complete tissue specificity and are now the preferred markers for asssessing myocardial damage.[66] Elevated troponins in the setting of chest pain may accurately predict a high likelihood of a myocardial infarction in the near future.[67] New markers such as glycogen phosphorylase isoenzyme BB are under investigation.[68] The diagnosis of myocardial infarction requires two out of three components (history, ECG, and enzymes). When damage to the heart occurs, levels of cardiac markers rise over time, which is why blood tests for them are taken over a 24-hour period. Because these enzyme levels are not elevated immediately following a heart attack, patients presenting with chest pain are generally treated with the assumption that a myocardial infarction has occurred and then evaluated for a more precise diagnosis.[69] [edit] Angiography Angiogram of the coronary arteries. Main article: Coronary catheterization In difficult cases or in situations where intervention to restore blood flow is appropriate, coronary angiography can be performed. A catheter is inserted into an artery (usually the femoral artery) and pushed to the vessels supplying the heart. A radio-opaque dye is administered through the catheter and a sequence of x-rays (fluoroscopy) is performed. Obstructed or narrowed arteries can be identified, and angioplasty applied as a therapeutic measure (see below). Angioplasty requires extensive skill, especially in emergency settings. It is performed by a physician trained in interventional cardiology. [edit] Histopathology Further information: Timeline of myocardial infarction pathology Microscopy image (magn. ca 100x, H&E stain) from autopsy specimen of myocardial infarct (7 days post-infarction). Histopathological examination of the heart may reveal infarction at autopsy. Under the microscope, myocardial infarction presents as a circumscribed area of ischemic, coagulative necrosis (cell death). On gross examination, the infarct is not identifiable within the first 12 hours.[70] Micrograph of a myocardial infarction (ca. 400x H&E stain ) with prominent contraction band necrosis. Although earlier changes can be discerned using electron microscopy, one of the earliest changes under a normal microscope are so-called wavy fibers.[71] Subsequently, the myocyte cytoplasm becomes more eosinophilic (pink) and the cells lose their transversal striations, with typical changes and eventually loss of the cell nucleus.[72] The interstitium at the margin of the infarcted area is initially infiltrated with neutrophils, then with lymphocytes and macrophages, who phagocytose ("eat") the myocyte debris. The necrotic area is surrounded and progressively invaded by granulation tissue, which will replace the infarct with a fibrous (collagenous) scar (which are typical steps in wound healing). The interstitial space (the space between cells outside of blood vessels) may be infiltrated with red blood cells.[70] These features can be recognized in cases where the perfusion was not restored; reperfused infarcts can have other hallmarks, such as contraction band necrosis.[73] [edit] Prevention The risk of a recurrent myocardial infarction decreases with strict blood pressure management and lifestyle changes, chiefly smoking cessation, regular exercise, a sensible diet for patients with heart disease, and limitation of alcohol intake. Patients are usually commenced on several long-term medications post-MI, with the aim of preventing secondary cardiovascular events such as further myocardial infarctions, congestive heart failure or cerebrovascular accident (CVA). Unless contraindicated, such medications may include:[74][75] * Antiplatelet drug therapy such as aspirin and/or clopidogrel should be continued to reduce the risk of plaque rupture and recurrent myocardial infarction. Aspirin is first-line, owing to its low cost and comparable efficacy, with clopidogrel reserved for patients intolerant of aspirin. The combination of clopidogrel and aspirin may further reduce risk of cardiovascular events, however the risk of hemorrhage is increased.[76] * Beta blocker therapy such as metoprolol or carvedilol should be commenced.[77] These have been particularly beneficial in high-risk patients such as those with left ventricular dysfunction and/or continuing cardiac ischaemia.[78] ?-Blockers decrease mortality and morbidity. They also improve symptoms of cardiac ischemia in NSTEMI. * ACE inhibitor therapy should be commenced 24?48 hours post-MI in hemodynamically-stable patients, particularly in patients with a history of MI, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, anterior location of infarct (as assessed by ECG), and/or evidence of left ventricular dysfunction. ACE inhibitors reduce mortality, the development of heart failure, and decrease ventricular remodelling post-MI.[79] * Statin therapy has been shown to reduce mortality and morbidity post-MI.[80][81] The effects of statins may be more than their LDL lowering effects. The general consensus is that statins have plaque stabilization and multiple other ("pleiotropic") effects that may prevent myocardial infarction in addition to their effects on blood lipids.[82] * The aldosterone antagonist agent eplerenone has been shown to further reduce risk of cardiovascular death post-MI in patients with heart failure and left ventricular dysfunction, when used in conjunction with standard therapies above.[83] * Omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish, have been shown to reduce mortality post-MI.[84] While the mechanism by which these fatty acids decrease mortality is unknown, it has been postulated that the survival benefit is due to electrical stabilization and the prevention of ventricular fibrillation.[85] However, further studies in a high-risk subset have not shown a clear-cut decrease in potentially fatal arrhythmias due to omega-3 fatty acids.[86][87] [edit] Management A heart attack is a medical emergency which demands both immediate attention and activation of the emergency medical services. The ultimate goal of the management in the acute phase of the disease is to salvage as much myocardium as possible and prevent further complications. As time passes, the risk of damage to the heart muscle increases; hence the phrase that in myocardial infarction, "time is muscle," and "time wasted is muscle lost".[88] Oxygen, aspirin, glyceryl trinitrate (nitroglycerin) and analgesia are usually administered as soon as possible. In many areas, first responders are trained to administer these prior to arrival at the hospital. Morphine is classically used if nitroglycerin is not effective due to its ability to dilate blood vessels, which may aid in blood flow to the heart as well as relieve pain. Morphine may also cause hypotension (usually in the setting of hypovolemia), and should be avoided in the case of right ventricular infarction. Moreover, the CRUSADE trial demonstrated an increase in mortality with administering morphine in the setting of NSTEMI.[89] A 2009 review of high flow oxygen in myocardial infarction found increased mortality and infarct size, calling into question the recommendation about its routine use.[90] Of the front line agents, aspirin and streptokinase have been shown to markedly reduce mortality.[91] Streptokinase activates plasminogen, which is fibrinolytic (see section on thrombolysis below). Once the diagnosis of myocardial infarction is confirmed, other pharmacologic agents are often given. These include beta blockers,[92][93] anticoagulation (typically with heparin),[94] and possibly additional antiplatelet agents such as clopidogrel.[94] While these agents can decrease mortality in the setting of an acute myocardial infarction, they can lead to complications and potentially death if used in the wrong setting.[citation needed] Cocaine associated myocardial infarction should be managed in a manner similar to other patients with acute coronary syndrome except beta blockers should not be used and benzodiazepines should be administered early.[95] The treatment itself may have complications. If attempts to restore the blood flow are initiated after a critical period of only a few hours, the result may be a reperfusion injury instead of amelioration.[96] [edit] First aid As myocardial infarction is a common medical emergency, the signs are often part of first aid courses. The emergency action principles also apply in the case of myocardial infarction. When symptoms of myocardial infarction occur, people wait an average of three hours, instead of doing what is recommended: calling for help immediately.[97][98] Acting immediately by calling the emergency services can save your life for two reasons. First and most importantly, the emergency services can immedialetely save your life from primary ventricular fibrillation which occurs unexpectedly in more than 10% of all infarction especially during the first hour of symptoms and second, immediate treatment of myocardial infarction can prevent sustained damage to the heart ("time is muscle").[88] Certain positions allow the patient to rest in a position which minimizes breathing difficulties. A half-sitting position with knees bent is often recommended. Access to more oxygen can be given by opening the window and widening the collar for easier breathing. Aspirin can be given quickly (if the patient is not allergic to aspirin); but taking aspirin before calling the emergency medical services may be associated with unwanted delay.[99] Aspirin has an antiplatelet effect which inhibits formation of further thrombi (blood clots) that clog arteries. Chewing is the preferred method of administration, so that the Aspirin can be absorbed quickly. Dissolved soluble preparations or sublingual administration can also be used. U.S. guidelines recommend a dose of 162?325 mg.[94] Australian guidelines recommend a dose of 150?300 mg.[74] Glyceryl trinitrate (nitroglycerin) sublingually (under the tongue) can be given if available. If an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available the rescuer should immediately bring the AED to the patient's side and be prepared to follow its instructions, especially should the victim lose consciousness. If possible the rescuer should obtain basic information from the victim, in case the patient is unable to answer questions once emergency medical technicians arrive. The victim's name and any information regarding the nature of the victim's pain will be useful to health care providers. The exact time that these symptoms started may be critical for determining what interventions can be safely attempted once the victim reaches the medical center. Other useful pieces of information include what the patient was doing at the onset of symptoms, and anything else that might give clues to the pathology of the chest pain. It is also very important to relay any actions that have been taken, such as the number or dose of aspirin or nitroglycerin given, to the EMS personnel. Other general first aid principles include monitoring pulse, breathing, level of consciousness and, if possible, the blood pressure of the patient. In case of cardiac arrest, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can be administered. [edit] Automatic external defibrillation (AED) Since the publication of data showing that the availability of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in public places may significantly increase chances of survival, many of these have been installed in public buildings, public transport facilities, and in non-ambulance emergency vehicles (e.g. police cars and fire engines). AEDs analyze the heart's rhythm and determine whether the rhythm is amenable to defibrillation ("shockable"), as in ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation. [edit] Emergency services Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems vary considerably in their ability to evaluate and treat patients with suspected acute myocardial infarction. Some provide as little as first aid and early defibrillation. Others employ highly trained paramedics with sophisticated technology and advanced protocols.[100] Early access to EMS is promoted by a 9-1-1 system currently available to 90% of the population in the United States.[100] Most are capable of providing oxygen, IV access, sublingual nitroglycerine, morphine, and aspirin. Some are capable of providing thrombolytic therapy in the prehospital setting.[101][102] With primary PCI emerging as the preferred therapy for ST segment elevation myocardial infarction, EMS can play a key role in reducing door to balloon intervals (the time from presentation to a hospital ER to the restoration of coronary artery blood flow) by performing a 12 lead ECG in the field and using this information to triage the patient to the most appropriate medical facility.[103][104][105][106] In addition, the 12 lead ECG can be transmitted to the receiving hospital, which enables time saving decisions to be made prior to the patient's arrival. This may include a "cardiac alert" or "STEMI alert" that calls in off duty personnel in areas where the cardiac cath lab is not staffed 24 hours a day.[107] Even in the absence of a formal alerting program, prehospital 12 lead ECGs are independently associated with reduced door to treatment intervals in the emergency department.[108] [edit] Reperfusion The concept of reperfusion has become so central to the modern treatment of acute myocardial infarction, that we are said to be in the reperfusion era.[109][110] Patients who present with suspected acute myocardial infarction and ST segment elevation (STEMI) or new bundle branch block on the 12 lead ECG are presumed to have an occlusive thrombosis in an epicardial coronary artery. They are therefore candidates for immediate reperfusion, either with thrombolytic therapy, percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) or when these therapies are unsuccessful, bypass surgery. Individuals without ST segment elevation are presumed to be experiencing either unstable angina (UA) or non-ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI). They receive many of the same initial therapies and are often stabilized with antiplatelet drugs and anticoagulated. If their condition remains (hemodynamically) stable, they can be offered either late coronary angiography with subsequent restoration of blood flow (revascularization), or non-invasive stress testing to determine if there is significant ischemia that would benefit from revascularization. If hemodynamic instability develops in individuals with NSTEMIs, they may undergo urgent coronary angiography and subsequent revascularization. The use of thrombolytic agents is contraindicated in this patient subset, however.[111] The basis for this distinction in treatment regimens is that ST segment elevations on an ECG are typically due to complete occlusion of a coronary artery. On the other hand, in NSTEMIs there is typically a sudden narrowing of a coronary artery with preserved (but diminished) flow to the distal myocardium. Anticoagulation and antiplatelet agents are given to prevent the narrowed artery from occluding. At least 10% of patients with STEMI don't develop myocardial necrosis (as evidenced by a rise in cardiac markers) and subsequent Q waves on EKG after reperfusion therapy. Such a successful restoration of flow to the infarct-related artery during an acute myocardial infarction is known as "aborting" the myocardial infarction. If treated within the hour, about 25% of STEMIs can be aborted.[112] [edit] Thrombolytic therapy Main article: Thrombolysis Thrombolytic therapy is indicated for the treatment of STEMI if the drug can be administered within 12 hours of the onset of symptoms, the patient is eligible based on exclusion criteria, and primary PCI is not immediately available.[94] The effectiveness of thrombolytic therapy is highest in the first 2 hours. After 12 hours, the risk associated with thrombolytic therapy outweighs any benefit.[111][113] Because irreversible injury occurs within 2?4 hours of the infarction, there is a limited window of time available for reperfusion to work. Thrombolytic drugs are contraindicated for the treatment of unstable angina and NSTEMI[111][114] and for the treatment of individuals with evidence of cardiogenic shock.[115] Although no perfect thrombolytic agent exists, an ideal thrombolytic drug would lead to rapid reperfusion, have a high sustained patency rate, be specific for recent thrombi, be easily and rapidly administered, create a low risk for intra-cerebral and systemic bleeding, have no antigenicity, adverse hemodynamic effects, or clinically significant drug interactions, and be cost effective.[116] Currently available thrombolytic agents include streptokinase, urokinase, and alteplase (recombinant tissue plasminogen activator, rtPA). More recently, thrombolytic agents similar in structure to rtPA such as reteplase and tenecteplase have been used. These newer agents boast efficacy at least as good as rtPA with significantly easier administration. The thrombolytic agent used in a particular individual is based on institution preference and the age of the patient. Depending on the thrombolytic agent being used, adjuvant anticoagulation with heparin or low molecular weight heparin may be of benefit.[117][118] With TPa and related agents (reteplase and tenecteplase), heparin is needed to maintain coronary artery patency. Because of the anticoagulant effect of fibrinogen depletion with streptokinase[119] and urokinase[120][121][122] treatment, it is less necessary there.[117] Intracranial bleeding (ICB) and subsequent cerebrovascular accident (CVA) is a serious side effect of thrombolytic use. The risk of ICB is dependent on a number of factors, including a previous episode of intracranial bleed, age of the individual, and the thrombolytic regimen that is being used. In general, the risk of ICB due to thrombolytic use for the treatment of an acute myocardial infarction is between 0.5 and 1 percent.[117] Thrombolytic therapy to abort a myocardial infarction is not always effective. The degree of effectiveness of a thrombolytic agent is dependent on the time since the myocardial infarction began, with the best results occurring if the thrombolytic agent is used within two hours of the onset of symptoms.[102][123] If the individual presents more than 12 hours after symptoms commenced, the risk of intracranial bleed are considered higher than the benefits of the thrombolytic agent.[124] Failure rates of thrombolytics can be as high as 20% or higher.[125] In cases of failure of the thrombolytic agent to open the infarct-related coronary artery, the patient is then either treated conservatively with anticoagulants and allowed to "complete the infarction" or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI, see below) is then performed. Percutaneous coronary intervention in this setting is known as "rescue PCI" or "salvage PCI". Complications, particularly bleeding, are significantly higher with rescue PCI than with primary PCI due to the action of the thrombolytic agent. [edit] Percutaneous coronary intervention Main article: Percutaneous coronary intervention Thrombus material (in a cup, upper left corner) removed from a coronary artery during a percutaneous coronary intervention to abort a myocardial infarction. Five pieces of thrombus are shown (arrow heads). The benefit of prompt, expertly performed primary percutaneous coronary intervention over thrombolytic therapy for acute ST elevation myocardial infarction is now well established.[126][127][128] When performed rapidly by an experienced team, primary PCI restores flow in the culprit artery in more than 95% of patients compared with the spontaneous recanalization rate of about 65%.[126] Logistic and economic obstacles seem to hinder a more widespread application of percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) via cardiac catheterization,[129] although the feasibility of regionalized PCI for STEMI is currently being explored in the United States.[130] The use of percutaneous coronary intervention as a therapy to abort a myocardial infarction is known as primary PCI. The goal of primary PCI is to open the artery as soon as possible, and preferably within 90 minutes of the patient presenting to the emergency room. This time is referred to as the door-to-balloon time. Few hospitals can provide PCI within the 90 minute interval,[131] which prompted the American College of Cardiology (ACC) to launch a national Door to Balloon (D2B) Initiative in November 2006. Over 800 hospitals have joined the D2B Alliance as of March 16, 2007.[132] One particularly successful implementation of a primary PCI protocol is in the Calgary Health Region under the auspices of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta. Under this model, EMS teams responding to an emergency electronically transmit the ECG directly to a digital archiving system that allows emergency room physicians and/or cardiologists to immediately confirm the diagnosis. This in turn allows for redirection of the EMS teams to facilities prepped to conduct time-critical angioplasty, based on the ECG analysis. In an article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in June 2007, the Calgary implementation resulted in a median time to treatment of 62 minutes.[133] The current guidelines in the United States restrict primary PCI to hospitals with available emergency bypass surgery as a backup,[94] but this is not the case in other parts of the world.[134] Primary PCI involves performing a coronary angiogram to determine the anatomical location of the infarcting vessel, followed by balloon angioplasty (and frequently deployment of an intracoronary stent) of the thrombosed arterial segment. In some settings, an extraction catheter may be used to attempt to aspirate (remove) the thrombus prior to balloon angioplasty. While the use of intracoronary stents do not improve the short term outcomes in primary PCI, the use of stents is widespread because of the decreased rates of procedures to treat restenosis compared to balloon angioplasty.[135] Adjuvant therapy during primary PCI includes intravenous heparin, aspirin, and clopidogrel. Glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors are often used in the setting of primary PCI to reduce the risk of ischemic complications during the procedure.[136][137] Due to the number of antiplatelet agents and anticoagulants used during primary PCI, the risk of bleeding associated with the procedure is higher than during an elective PCI.[138] [edit] Coronary artery bypass surgery Main article: Coronary artery bypass graft surgery Coronary artery bypass surgery during mobilization (freeing) of the right coronary artery from its surrounding tissue, adipose tissue (yellow). The tube visible at the bottom is the aortic cannula (returns blood from the HLM). The tube above it (obscured by the surgeon on the right) is the venous cannula (receives blood from the body). The patient's heart is stopped and the aorta is cross-clamped. The patient's head (not seen) is at the bottom. Despite the guidelines, emergency bypass surgery for the treatment of an acute myocardial infarction (MI) is less common than PCI or medical management. In an analysis of patients in the U.S. National Registry of Myocardial Infarction (NRMI) from January 1995 to May 2004, the percentage of patients with cardiogenic shock treated with primary PCI rose from 27.4% to 54.4%, while the increase in CABG treatment was only from 2.1% to 3.2%.[139] Emergency coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) is usually undertaken to simultaneously treat a mechanical complication, such as a ruptured papillary muscle, or a ventricular septal defect, with ensueing cardiogenic shock.[140] In uncomplicated MI, the mortality rate can be high when the surgery is performed immediately following the infarction.[141] If this option is entertained, the patient should be stabilized prior to surgery, with supportive interventions such as the use of an intra-aortic balloon pump.[142] In patients developing cardiogenic shock after a myocardial infarction, both PCI and CABG are satisfactory treatment options, with similar survival rates.[143][144] Coronary artery bypass surgery involves an artery or vein from the patient being implanted to bypass narrowings or occlusions on the coronary arteries. Several arteries and veins can be used, however internal mammary artery grafts have demonstrated significantly better long-term patency rates than great saphenous vein grafts.[145] In patients with two or more coronary arteries affected, bypass surgery is associated with higher long-term survival rates compared to percutaneous interventions.[146] In patients with single vessel disease, surgery is comparably safe and effective, and may be a treatment option in selected cases.[147] Bypass surgery has higher costs initially, but becomes cost-effective in the long term.[148] A surgical bypass graft is more invasive initially but bears less risk of recurrent procedures (but these may be again minimally invasive).[147] [edit] Monitoring for arrhythmias Additional objectives are to prevent life-threatening arrhythmias or conduction disturbances. This requires monitoring in a coronary care unit and protocolised administration of antiarrhythmic agents. Antiarrhythmic agents are typically only given to individuals with life-threatening arrhythmias after a myocardial infarction and not to suppress the ventricular ectopy that is often seen after a myocardial infarction.[149][150][151] [edit] Austere environments Wilderness first aid In wilderness first aid, a possible heart attack justifies evacuation by the fastest available means, including MEDEVAC, even in the earliest or precursor stages. The patient will rapidly be incapable of further exertion and have to be carried out. Air travel Certified personnel traveling by commercial aircraft may be able to assist an MI patient by using the on-board first aid kit, which may contain some cardiac drugs (such as glyceryl trinitrate spray, aspirin, or opioid painkillers), an AED,[152] and oxygen. Pilots may divert the flight to land at a nearby airport. Cardiac monitors are being introduced by some airlines, and they can be used by both on-board and ground-based physicians.[153] [edit] Rehabilitation Cardiac rehabilitation aims to optimize function and quality of life in those afflicted with a heart disease. This can be with the help of a physician, or in the form of a cardiac rehabilitation program.[154] Physical exercise is an important part of rehabilitation after a myocardial infarction, with beneficial effects on cholesterol levels, blood pressure, weight, stress and mood.[154] Some patients become afraid of exercising because it might trigger another infarct.[155] Patients are stimulated to exercise, and should only avoid certain exerting activities. Local authorities may place limitations on driving motorised vehicles.[156] Some people are afraid to have sex after a heart attack. Most people can resume sexual activities after 3 to 4 weeks. The amount of activity needs to be dosed to the patient's possibilities.[157] [edit] New therapies under investigation Patients who receive stem cell treatment by coronary artery injections of stem cells derived from their own bone marrow after a myocardial infarction (MI) show improvements in left ventricular ejection fraction and end-diastolic volume not seen with placebo. The larger the initial infarct size, the greater the effect of the infusion. Clinical trials of progenitor cell infusion as a treatment approach to ST elevation MI are proceeding.[158] There are currently 3 biomaterial and tissue engineering approaches for the treatment of MI, but these are in an even earlier stage of medical research, so many questions and issues need to be addressed before they can be applied to patients. The first involves polymeric left ventricular restraints in the prevention of heart failure. The second utilizes in vitro engineered cardiac tissue, which is subsequently implanted in vivo. The final approach entails injecting cells and/or a scaffold into the myocardium to create in situ engineered cardiac tissue.[159] [edit] Complications Complications may occur immediately following the heart attack (in the acute phase), or may need time to develop (a chronic problem). After an infarction, an obvious complication is a second infarction, which may occur in the domain of another atherosclerotic coronary artery, or in the same zone if there are any live cells left in the infarct. [edit] Congestive heart failure Main article: Congestive heart failure A myocardial infarction may compromise the function of the heart as a pump for the circulation, a state called heart failure. There are different types of heart failure; left- or right-sided (or bilateral) heart failure may occur depending on the affected part of the heart, and it is a low-output type of failure. If one of the heart valves is affected, this may cause dysfunction, such as mitral regurgitation in the case of left-sided coronary occlusion that disrupts the blood supply of the papillary muscles. The incidence of heart failure is particularly high in patients with diabetes and requires special management strategies.[160] [edit] Myocardial rupture Main article: Myocardial rupture Myocardial rupture is most common three to five days after myocardial infarction, commonly of small degree, but may occur one day to three weeks later. In the modern era of early revascularization and intensive pharmacotherapy as treatment for MI, the incidence of myocardial rupture is about 1% of all MIs.[161] This may occur in the free walls of the ventricles, the septum between them, the papillary muscles, or less commonly the atria. Rupture occurs because of increased pressure against the weakened walls of the heart chambers due to heart muscle that cannot pump blood out effectively. The weakness may also lead to ventricular aneurysm, a localized dilation or ballooning of the heart chamber. Risk factors for myocardial rupture include completion of infarction (no revascularization performed), female sex, advanced age, and a lack of a previous history of myocardial infarction.[161] In addition, the risk of rupture is higher in individuals who are revascularized with a thrombolytic agent than with PCI.[162][163] The shear stress between the infarcted segment and the surrounding normal myocardium (which may be hypercontractile in the post-infarction period) makes it a nidus for rupture.[164] Rupture is usually a catastrophic event that may result a life-threatening process known as cardiac tamponade, in which blood accumulates within the pericardium or heart sac, and compresses the heart to the point where it cannot pump effectively. Rupture of the intraventricular septum (the muscle separating the left and right ventricles) causes a ventricular septal defect with shunting of blood through the defect from the left side of the heart to the right side of the heart, which can lead to right ventricular failure as well as pulmonary overcirculation. Rupture of the papillary muscle may also lead to acute mitral regurgitation and subsequent pulmonary edema and possibly even cardiogenic shock. [edit] Life-threatening arrhythmia A 12 lead electrocardiogram showing ventricular tachycardia. Since the electrical characteristics of the infarcted tissue change (see pathophysiology section), arrhythmias are a frequent complication.[165] The re-entry phenomenon may cause rapid heart rates (ventricular tachycardia and even ventricular fibrillation), and ischemia in the electrical conduction system of the heart may cause a complete heart block (when the impulse from the sinoatrial node, the normal cardiac pacemaker, does not reach the heart chambers).[166][167] [edit] Pericarditis Main article: Pericarditis As a reaction to the damage of the heart muscle, inflammatory cells are attracted. The inflammation may reach out and affect the heart sac. This is called pericarditis. In Dressler's syndrome, this occurs several weeks after the initial event. [edit] Cardiogenic shock A complication that may occur in the acute setting soon after a myocardial infarction or in the weeks following it is cardiogenic shock. Cardiogenic shock is defined as a hemodynamic state in which the heart cannot produce enough of a cardiac output to supply an adequate amount of oxygenated blood to the tissues of the body. While the data on performing interventions on individuals with cardiogenic shock is sparse, trial data suggests a long-term mortality benefit in undergoing revascularization if the individual is less than 75 years old and if the onset of the acute myocardial infarction is less than 36 hours and the onset of cardiogenic shock is less than 18 hours.[115] If the patient with cardiogenic shock is not going to be revascularized, aggressive hemodynamic support is warranted, with insertion of an intra-aortic balloon pump if not contraindicated.[115] If diagnostic coronary angiography does not reveal a culprit blockage that is the cause of the cardiogenic shock, the prognosis is poor.[115] [edit] Prognosis The prognosis for patients with myocardial infarction varies greatly, depending on the patient, the condition itself and the given treatment. Using simple variables which are immediately available in the emergency room, patients with a higher risk of adverse outcome can be identified. For example, one study found that 0.4% of patients with a low risk profile had died after 90 days, whereas the mortality rate in high risk patients was 21.1%.[168] For the period 2005 - 2008 in the United States the median mortality at 30 days was 16.6% with a range from 10.9% to 24.9% depending on the hospital which one looks at.[169] Although studies differ in the identified variables, some of the more reproduced risk stratifiers include age, hemodynamic parameters (such as heart failure, cardiac arrest on admission, systolic blood pressure, or Killip class of two or greater), ST-segment deviation, diabetes, serum creatinine concentration, peripheral vascular disease and elevation of cardiac markers.[168][170][171] Assessment of left ventricular ejection fraction may increase the predictive power of some risk stratification models.[172] The prognostic importance of Q-waves is debated.[173] Prognosis is significantly worsened if a mechanical complication (papillary muscle rupture, myocardial free wall rupture, and so on) were to occur.[162] There is evidence that case fatality of myocardial infarction has been improving over the years in all ethnicities.[174] [edit] Epidemiology Myocardial infarction is a common presentation of ischemic heart disease. The WHO estimated that in 2002, 12.6 percent of deaths worldwide were from ischemic heart disease.[2] Ischemic heart disease is the leading cause of death in developed countries, but third to AIDS and lower respiratory infections in developing countries.[175] In the United States, diseases of the heart are the leading cause of death, causing a higher mortality than cancer (malignant neoplasms).[176] Coronary heart disease is responsible for 1 in 5 deaths in the U.S.. Some 7,200,000 men and 6,000,000 women are living with some form of coronary heart disease. 1,200,000 people suffer a (new or recurrent) coronary attack every year, and about 40% of them die as a result of the attack.[177] This means that roughly every 65 seconds, an American dies of a coronary event. In India, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death.[178] The deaths due to CVD in India were 32% of all deaths in 2007 and are expected to rise from 1.17 million in 1990 and 1.59 million in 2000 to 2.03 million in 2010.[179] Although a relatively new epidemic in India, it has quickly become a major health issue with deaths due to CVD expected to double during 1985-2015.[180][181] Mortality estimates due to CVD vary widely by state, ranging from 10% in Meghalaya to 49% in Punjab (percentage of all deaths). Punjab (49%), Goa (42%), Tamil Nadu (36%) and Andhra Pradesh (31%) have the highest CVD related mortality estimates.[182] State-wise differences are correlated with prevalence of specific dietary risk factors in the states. Moderate physical exercise is associated with reduced incidence of CVD in India (those who exercise have less than half the risk of those who don't).[180] CVD also affects Indians at a younger age (in their 30s and 40s) than is typical in other countries. [edit] Legal implications At common law, a myocardial infarction is generally a disease, but may sometimes be an injury. This has implications for no-fault insurance schemes such as workers' compensation. A heart attack is generally not covered;[183] however, it may be a work-related injury if it results, for example, from unusual emotional stress or unusual exertion.[184] Additionally, in some jurisdictions, heart attacks suffered by persons in particular occupations such as police officers may be classified as line-of-duty injuries by statute or policy. 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