Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD) and VA benefits


I was in Vietnam Nam from July 1968 to July 1969. I didn't have a heart problem when I arrived in country. I had a physical before I left country and the Cardiologist told me I had developed a heart murmur but that it wouldn't be a problem. As I got older the problem worsened and in the spring of 2008 I had aortic valve replacement. Before surgery I was cathed and was told that two of my arteries were blocked 50 percent.  I put in a claim and it was denied. I am not sure when IHD was considered a compensable disease for agent orange related problems. Since then I have been cathed again, about a year ago, and the results were the same as 2008, 50 percent blockage in two arteries. The doctor said it was probably due to the medication I have been taking for high cholesterol and hypertension. I guess my question is: When is the percentage of arterial blockage considered compensable and if it has been under control by using medication is it compensable to any degree?    Thanks

Jim's Reply

Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD, the VA term for coronary artery disease) is a presumptive condition that VA will rate because of your exposure to agent orange. You should speak with a veterans law attorney before making another claim. Your claim will be somewhat complex because the valvular heart disease will not be presumptive to agent orange but the IHD will be. The rating for IHD is based only on the function of the left ventricle of your heart...that's the pump that does most of the work. The degree of arterial blockage or numbers of stents and bypasses won't be considered. The efficiency is measured in a number of ways and if it is pumping at greater than 50%, your rating will be service connected at 0%...the pump is working normally. Anything less than that will gain a higher rating as the efficiency of the pump falls. But again, this can get complex so you'll benefit with a review by an expert.