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Cardiovascular Disorders and Long-term Disability Benefits

May 28, 2017
Cardiovascular Disorders and Long-term Disability Benefits

Cardiovascular disease can involve many different problems of the heart and blood vessels. The problems are often related to atherosclerosis, which is a buildup of plaque on the walls of the arteries. This buildup narrows the arteries and increases the risk of a blood clot, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.


Types of Cardiovascular Diseases

Some common types of cardiovascular diseases include:

Heart attack

A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, is when the blood flow to your heart is either severely reduced or restricted completely, usually caused by the buildup of plaque in your arteries. The process of plaque building up in your arteries is called atherosclerosis. The symptoms of a heart attack vary between males and females, but heart attacks can be very serious and require immediate medical attention.

Ischemic Stroke

An ischemic stroke is when the arteries to the brain become narrow or are blocked off, which causes reduced blood flow to the brain. Ischemic strokes are the most common type of stroke. Symptoms of an ischemic stroke vary from person-to-person as well as the severity of the stroke, but can include trouble speaking, paralysis of the face, arms or legs, trouble seeing, headache, and trouble walking. Depending on the severity, a stroke can have serious and debilitating results including memory loss, difficulty talking, paralysis, and pain.

Hemorrhagic Stroke

Hemorrhagic stokes are less common than ischemic strokes, only occurring in approximately 13% of all strokes according to the American Stroke Association. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a brain aneurysm bursts or a blood vessel leaks in the brain. The blood creates swelling and pressure in the brain. The symptoms and long-lasting effects of a hemorrhagic stroke are similar to those of an ischemic stroke.

Heart Failure

Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle is weakened and unable to effectively pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. Congestive heart failure is a common type of heart failure characterized by the blood backing up in the veins when it is returning to the heart.

Arrhythmia (Abnormal Heartbeat)

Heart arrhythmias are when the heart beats abnormally, either too slow, too fast, or irregularly. Heart arrhythmias can be a concern because if the heart does not pump blood effectively, it can impact the ability of other organs to work properly. Arrhythmias may lead to heart attacks or strokes if they are severe and long-lasting. Arrhythmias can also cause fainting if they are sustained.

Heart Valve Problems

Heart valve disease is characterized by when one or more of your heart valves does not function properly. When one of the heart’s four valves does not open or close properly, blood flow from the heart to the body can be disrupted. Heart valve disease can lead to complications such as heart failure, stroke, blood clots, and heart arrhythmias.


Hypertension, also called high blood pressure, is a condition in which the force of your blood against your artery walls is too high, and can eventually cause further heart issues. A person with hypertension may not have any symptoms, or they may experience shortness of breath or headaches. High blood pressure can typically be managed with medication and lifestyle changes.


Impact of Cardiovascular Disease on Work

Cardiovascular disease can impact your life and ability to work in different ways.  For instance, a stroke can result in temporary loss of the ability to walk, talk, or perform other tasks. In some cases, rehabilitation can effectively regain these abilities. Additionally, a heart attack can leave you with physical limitations and may result in an inability to work in a stressful environment.

How does cardiovascular disease impact your ability to work? Unfortunately, studies have shown that work stress is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. If you have recently had a heart attack or stroke, you may not be ready to return to work immediately.

If your cardiovascular disease severely limits what activities you can perform, you may be eligible for long-term disability insurance benefits. You will need to provide proof to the insurance company of your disability and functional impairment. For example, if exercise tolerance tests show that you cannot physically exert yourself without fatigue, or if test results show heart abnormalities, you can use this as evidence of your inability to work.

Some difficult situations can arise when an individual files a claim for long-term insurance benefits due to cardiovascular disease, but their cardiac test results are normal following a heart surgery. However, the claimant may still have symptoms such as fatigue. The insurance company may believe that the individual is fit to work and ignore their symptoms.

In these situations, you should consult with a long-term disability attorney. The insurance companies have their own standards for what evidence is considered objective, and you will have to present your case on their terms. If your claim is denied, your attorney can help you with an internal appeal, and then take your case to court if necessary.

Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick handles complex long-term disability claims and appeals. We take your case to court, if needed, to get you the disability benefits you deserve. Call us at 401-331-6300 for a free consultation.