Heart disease, also called cardiovascular disease, refers to a range of conditions that affect the heart, including endocarditis, heart attack, and ischemic heart disease. Chest pain, shortness of breath, and fainting spells can all be signs of cardiovascular diseases.
The VA rates many cardiovascular conditions based on the metabolic equivalent of task test (MET), also known as the exercise test. This test checks how much oxygen is being used for increasingly strenuous tasks. Veterans with heart conditions will often need these test results to be assigned a disability rating.
Service-Connection for Heart Diseases
The VA does recognize presumptive service-connection for some heart conditions. The following conditions can be considered presumptively service-connected if symptoms appear within one year of discharge that are at least 10 percent disabling:
- Valvular Heart Disease
- Raynaud’s Syndrome
- Buerger’s Disease
Ratings for these conditions can vary from 10 percent to 100 percent, depending on the severity of symptoms. For example, arteriosclerosis can be rated at 100 percent if there is chronic congestive heart failure; or a workload of 3 METs or less results in dyspnea, fatigue, angina, dizziness, or syncope; or if there is left ventricular dysfunction with an ejection fraction of 30 percent or less.
On the other hand, if a workload of between 7 and 10 METs results in dyspnea, fatigue, angina, dizziness, or syncope; or if continuous medication is a required, a 10 percent rating may be given for arteriosclerosis.
Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam will receive a presumptive service-connection for ischemic heart disease.
Gulf War Veterans do not specifically receive a presumption for any heart conditions, but cardiovascular symptoms may be present in medically unexplained illnesses or chronic multi symptom illnesses.
The ratings for heart disease can be complicated to figure out, and can be based on MET test results, the presence of cardiac hypertrophy or dilation on an electrocardiogram, or the need for continuous medication. If you believe you received an improperly low rating for your heart condition, talk to a veterans attorney about appealing your claim.
Talk to an experienced veterans law practitioner to learn more about the appeals process. Our veterans lawyers have helped thousands of veterans with their VA disability compensation appeals. Contact us for a no-cost consultation.