What Is Coronary Artery Disease?
Coronary artery disease (AKA arteriosclerotic heart disease) is the narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, typically caused by atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the buildup of plaque (fatty deposits) and cholesterol inside the arteries. An individual with coronary artery disease may exhibit one or all of the following symptoms:
- Chest pain – this could include pressure or tightness in the chest, or sharp pains, usually occurring in the middle or left side of the chest.
- Shortness of breath
- Heart attack – a completely blocked coronary artery will cause a heart attack.
- Signs and symptoms of a heart attack include crushing pressure in one’s chest, pain in one’s shoulder or arm, and sometimes shortness of breath and sweating.
There are multiple risk factors that can increase one’s likelihood of developing coronary artery disease, many of which can occur concurrently or result from one another to increase an individual’s chances of developing the condition. Some of those risk factors are:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Sedentary lifestyle
- High stress
- Unhealthy diet
All of these risk factors put military service members at a particularly high risk for developing coronary artery disease. Not only do military occupations occur in high stress environments, but the mental and physical conditions that one can develop as a result of his or her military service can lead to a more sedentary lifestyle, a higher risk of developing diabetes, and a higher risk of using substances (such as nicotine and alcohol). All of the precursors to coronary artery disease are common conditions claimed by those receiving VA disability benefits, which increases the proportion of veterans claiming disability benefits for coronary artery disease. In fact, coronary artery disease claims make up 22 percent of all cardiovascular disability claims.
Getting Service Connected For Coronary Artery Disease
The most crucial evidence a veteran can include in his or her claim for service connection for coronary artery disease are medical records. With these records, the veteran wants to demonstrate to the VA that his or her condition is service connected either through (1) being diagnosed in service or (2) starting to exhibit symptoms in service or within one year of being discharged. In the case of coronary artery disease, a veteran can also receive service connection for this condition as secondary to another service connected disability, like depression or PTSD. If the veteran can provide evidence that the condition they are already service connected for led to the development of his or her coronary artery disease, they are eligible for VA disability benefits for the condition.
How The VA Rates Coronary Artery Disease
Under 38 CFR § 4.104, the VA rates coronary artery disease as seen in the rating schedule below.
Diagnostic Code 7005: Arteriosclerotic heart disease (Coronary artery disease):
- 100 – With documented coronary artery disease resulting in: Chronic congestive heart failure, or; workload of 3 METs or less results in dyspnea, fatigue, angina, dizziness, or syncope, or; left ventricular dysfunction with an ejection fraction of less than 30 percent
- 60 – More than one episode of acute congestive heart failure in the past year, or; workload of greater than 3 METs but not greater than 5 METs results in dyspnea, fatigue, angina, dizziness, or syncope, or; left ventricular dysfunction with an ejection fraction of 30 to 50 percent
- 30 – Workload of greater than 5 METs but not greater than 7 METs results in dyspnea, fatigue, angina, dizziness, or syncope, or; evidence of cardiac hypertrophy or dilatation on electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, or X-ray
- 10 – Workload of greater than 7 METs but not greater than 10 METs results in dyspnea, fatigue, angina, dizziness, or syncope, or; continuous medication required
Assistance With Your Coronary Artery Disease Claim
If you or someone you love is a veteran seeking service connection for coronary artery disease, our experienced veterans disability attorneys are ready to help. Please contact our office today to receive a free claim evaluation. We can help you get the compensation you deserve.