What are the symptoms and signs of ischemic heart disease?

Ischemic heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease and coronary heart disease, is the leading cause of death for both women and men. Every year in the U.S., approximately 610,000 people die of heart disease, and more than 700,000 have a heart attack. 

Ischemic heart disease is a narrowing or a blockage of the arteries that carry blood to the heart muscle. Narrowed arteries mean that not enough oxygen reaches your heart, especially when it's beating hard, such as during exercise. Typically, this blockage is caused by fatty plaque that builds up inside the arteries. If the blockage is serious, it may lead to a heart attack, which must be treated quickly before the blockage causes portions of the heart muscle to die. hands over heart

There is a variety of heart conditions that qualify for Social Security (SS) benefits and disability from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). However, to be eligible for financial support from these agencies, you need medical evidence that shows your condition prevents you from working or performing normal, daily activities. It’s helpful to have a disability attorney working with you who understands the SS and VA processes and can offer expertise for getting your claim accepted.

Primary Signs of Ischemic Heart Disease

There are common signs of ischemic heart disease, but in some cases, they may not be that obvious. People can have this condition and not have symptoms, which often happens when heart disease is in its early stages.

Here are some common symptoms of ischemic heart disease:

  • Chest pain. Also known as angina, this symptom presents as tightness or pressure in your chest—almost as though someone is standing on it. The pain often occurs on the left side or middle of the chest and is typically brought about by emotional or physical stress. Once you stop the activity causing the physical stress or calm down from an emotional event, the pain usually subsides. For women especially, the feeling may be a quick or sharp pain in the back, neck, or arm. 
     
  • Shortness of breath. Also known as dyspnea, shortness of breath is often described as “air hunger” or a severe tightening in the chest that feels like suffocation. There are many reasons even a healthy person may experience this shortness of breath, including high altitude, extreme temperatures, and exhausting exercise.
     
  • Heart attack. You may experience a heart attack if you have an artery that is completely blocked. If you feel a crushing pressure in your chest and pain in a shoulder or arm, this may be a sign of a heart attack. Additionally, you may sweat and be short of breath. Women often experience signs of a heart attack that are less typical, such as pain in the jaw or neck. Occasionally, a person experiences a heart attack without symptoms and for no apparent reason. This is referred to as a silent myocardial infarction, and people with diabetes are more likely to experience this type of heart attack. Sometimes the symptoms of a heart attack mimic indigestion. You may have heartburn, a stomach ache, or heaviness in your chest.

Other signs of cardiovascular issues include:

  • A quick, irregular, or erratic pulse
  • A feeling of anxiety
  • A loss of appetite or a feeling of nausea
  • Sweating
  • Tiredness

Causes of Ischemic Heart Disease

Medical professionals think ischemic heart disease may begin after damage or injury occurs to the inner layer of a coronary artery. This damage could happen as early as childhood. Other factors that could cause this damage include:

  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Hypertension
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes or insulin resistance

After there is damage to an artery’s inner wall, plaque or fatty deposits made of cellular waste products and cholesterol are likely to collect at the location of the injury. This is called atherosclerosis. If there is a rupture to the plaque, platelets try to repair the artery by clumping at the site. This clumping is what blocks the artery and can lead to a heart attack.

Are You Eligible for SS or VA Disability?

If you have ischemic heart disease and want to apply for SS disability, or you’re a veteran and want to know if you’re eligible for VA benefits, contact Cuddigan Law at (402) 933-5405. We’ll schedule an appointment to discuss your specific situation.

Timothy J. Cuddigan
Omaha Social Security and Veterans Disability Lawyer With Over 40 Years Experience