Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease in the United States. It is also the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. This condition is caused by a narrowing or blockage in the coronary arteries. The narrowing or blockage is usually a result of plaque buildup. The blockage or narrowing is significant in that it restricts or limits blood flow to the heart muscle. Your heart requires oxygen-rich blood to work properly. Without enough oxygen-rich blood, you run the risk of various serious complications, including the potential for a heart attack.
Signs and Symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease
Individuals suffering from coronary artery disease may not even know they have this condition. As with most medical conditions, symptoms can range from none to very severe. The typical symptoms associated with coronary artery disease include:
- chest pain
- shortness of breath
If you are not experiencing any symptoms, you would have no idea you are experiencing any build-up of plaque in your arteries. This is what makes this condition very dangerous. In some cases, you can go from no symptoms to very severe symptoms relatively quickly. Because of this, it is vitally important you receive regular health care checkups, including reviewing your family’s history of heart disease with your medical provider.
Diagnosing Coronary Artery Disease
If you are suffering symptoms, or you have a family history of heart disease, your medical provider may recommend you undergo diagnostic testing so as to confirm whether your heart is working properly or not. Some of the testings might include an electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, stress test, CT scan or cardiac catheterization. Catheterization is a procedure where the doctor inserts a catheter into your artery, then injects dye to help the blood vessels show up better on the images. The catheterization will show images of your arteries to determine if they are blocked or running properly. If the cardiac catheterization shows a blockage or near blockage, you may require a stent to be placed to help open up the artery so the blood can flow freely to your heart.
Treating Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease is not a condition that can be cured, but it is certainly manageable in most situations. The most basic treatment recommendations include lifestyle changes, regular exercise and most importantly, tobacco cessation. If your condition does not improve with these changes, medications may be recommended such as cholesterol medication, aspirin, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, ACE inhibitors or even nitroglycerin. In the most severe cases, an individual may require surgical intervention with either a stent placement or coronary artery bypass surgery. A bypass procedure is basically how it sounds. Your doctor will divert the blood flow around the blocked artery.
Many people suffering from coronary artery disease are able to sufficiently manage their symptoms so that they are able to lead normal lives. However, there are many people with severe symptoms related to this condition, that is simply not relieved with lifestyle modifications, medications and surgical intervention. If you happen to be one of those individuals, where you have undergone surgical intervention, without lasting benefit, you may be eligible for social security disability benefits.
Coronary Artery Disease and Disability Benefits
If you are unable to undergo surgical intervention as a result of other medical conditions, and you are struggling with severe symptoms of coronary artery disease, you may also be a good candidate for the disability program. The main question to ask when deciding whether to file for disability benefits or not is whether, after a significant amount of medical treatment, you are still unable to work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. If you fall into that category, whether you are struggling to work in spite of you following the recommendations of your cardiologist or other health care provider, applying for disability benefits is likely your best option.
When applying for disability benefits, Social Security will review your claim to see if you meet or equal one of social security’s listed impairments. If not they will then consider what you are functionally capable of doing and how that impacts your ability to perform your past relevant work and all other work in the national economy.
Social Security’s Listed Conditions
The Social Security Administration created a list of conditions that are deemed generally so severe they will automatically qualify you for disability benefits without further functional analysis of your claim. To be found disabled using one of the Listed conditions, you must have certain medical evidence documenting your condition. For coronary artery disease, Social Security would review Listing 4.04(C) for ischemic heart disease. This listing would require evidence of diagnosed coronary artery disease demonstrated by diagnostic testing such as angiogram or stress test. In addition, your angiographic evidence must show one of the following:
- 50% or more narrowing of a non-bypassed left main coronary artery, or
- 70% or more narrowing of another non-bypassed coronary artery, or
- 50% or more narrowing involving a long segment of a non-bypassed coronary artery, or
- 50 % or more of at least two non-bypassed coronary arteries, or
- 70% or more narrowing of a bypass graft vessel.
You must also show serious limitations in your ability to independently initiate, sustain or complete activities of daily living.
The blockage percentage is very clearly proven using diagnostic testing. The requirement for serious limitations is a bit more difficult to prove, as it would require documentation from a medical provider about your limitations. Thus, your doctor must put notes in your medical records about the functional difficulties you are experiencing.
It should be noted it is very difficult to prove you meet or equal one of social security’s listed conditions. If you are not found disabled based upon a listing, you should not be discouraged. You may also be found disabled based upon your functional limitations and how they impact your ability to not only perform the work you have done in the past but also any other work in the national economy.
Let LaBovick Law Group’s Experienced Attorneys Help
Applying for disability is not an easy task. Being approved for these benefits depends upon a multitude of factors including how your doctor is documenting your medical records, what legal arguments are to be made to the social security administration, and how your symptoms impact your ability to work. Hiring an experienced social security disability attorney will afford you the best chance of having your claim approved. At the LaBovick Law Group, we provide a free consultation with no up-front costs for our representation. Call us today at (561) 623-3681 for a free analysis of your disability claim.