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ERISA Law

Long-Term Disability (LTD) Benefits for Cardiovascular Disease

May 18, 2020
man clutching chest due to chest pain caused by cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease includes many different problems of the heart and blood vessels. It can cause a variety of symptoms and result in severe complications, both of which may impact an individual’s ability to work. If you are unable to work due to your cardiovascular disease, you may be able to file a long-term disability claim. If your insurer has denied your claim, you have the right to appeal that decision; but you do not need to go through this process alone. The attorneys at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD can help you fight the insurance company and obtain the benefits to which you are entitled.

Types of Cardiovascular Disease

Some common types of cardiovascular disease include:

Atherosclerotic Disease

Atherosclerotic disease occurs when there is a build-up of plaque on the artery walls.  This causes the arteries to narrow and can restrict blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body.  Symptoms of atherosclerotic disease typically do not appear until the artery is so narrow that it cannot supply adequate blood to organs or tissues.  The symptoms of atherosclerotic disease vary based on which arteries are affected.

Arrhythmia (Abnormal Heartbeat)

Heart arrhythmias are when the heart beats abnormally, whether it be too slow, too fast, or irregularly. As a result of the heart beating abnormally, the heart cannot pump blood effectively, which can impact the ability of other organs to work properly. Symptoms of arrhythmias include feeling tired, shortness of breath, chest pain, or passing out. Arrhythmias can result in several different complications, including cardiac arrest, heart attack, or stroke.

Heart Valve Problems

Heart valve disease occurs when one or more of your heart valves does not function properly, which can cause blood flow from the heart to the body to be disrupted. Heart valve disease can lead to complications such as heart failure, stroke, blood clots, and heart arrhythmias.

Hypertension

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, occurs when the force of your blood against your artery walls is too high, which can eventually cause further heart issues. Many people with hypertension do not have any symptoms at all. However, if it becomes severe, hypertension can cause shortness of breath or headaches. Typically, high blood pressure can be managed with medication and lifestyle changes.

Complications from Cardiovascular Disease

Heart Attack

heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction, occurs when the blood flow to the heart is blocked. The blockage usually occurs as a result of the buildup of plaque in your arteries (atherosclerosis). Although the symptoms can vary from person to person, common signs of a heart attack include tightness or pain in your chest or arms, shortness of breath, fatigue, lightheadedness, cold sweat, or nausea.  Heart attacks are serious and require immediate medical attention.

Ischemic Stroke

An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel to the brain becomes blocked, often due to a blood clot or narrowing of the arteries.  This prevents adequate blood flow to the brain. Ischemic strokes are the most common type of stroke. Symptoms of an ischemic stroke can include trouble speaking, numbness or weakness of the face, arms or legs, trouble seeing, headache, and trouble walking. Depending on its severity, a stroke can have serious, and potentially permanent, effects including memory loss, difficulty talking, paralysis, and pain.

Hemorrhagic Stroke

Hemorrhagic strokes 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 blood vessel ruptures and leaks blood in the brain. The blood in the brain creates swelling and pressure. Despite their different causes, 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. The heart may be unable to fill with enough blood or it may be unable to pump blood to the rest of the body with enough force. The symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath, fatigue, and swelling in the feet, ankles, legs, and abdomen.

Impact of Cardiovascular Disease on Working Professionals

Cardiovascular disease and its complications can impact your life and ability to work in different ways.  For example, you may suffer fatigue or shortness of breath, which make engaging in physical activity difficult. A stroke can result in temporary or permanent loss of the ability to walk, talk, or perform other tasks. Alternatively, you may not have any symptoms of your cardiovascular disease, but you may be at risk for a complication if you were to work in a stressful environment.

If your cardiovascular disease severely limits what activities you can perform, you may be eligible for long-term disability benefits. You will need to provide proof to the insurance company of your condition and resulting functional impairments. This may include test results evidencing heart abnormalities or exercise tolerance tests evidencing that your heart does not function properly during exertion.

However, these claims can be complicated where test results are normal, but you still have symptoms like fatigue or shortness of breath, or where you have no symptoms, but your doctor has advised that you would be at increased risk for complications if you were to return to work due to the stressful environment.

In these situations, you should consider consulting with a long-term disability attorney. 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 LTD handles complex long-term disability claims, appeals, and litigation. If you need assistance obtaining your long-term disability benefits, call us at 401-331-6300 for a free consultation.