Approximately 92 million American adults are living with cardiovascular disease or have had a stroke that has resulted in lasting medical issues. Cardiovascular disease is a leading causeCardiovascular Disease and Social Security Disability of death and it can result in a permanent disability that prevents you from working. Since cardiovascular disease is so common, it is important to recognize the symptoms of cardiovascular conditions, risk factors that might make you more likely to suffer from cardiovascular conditions, and when Social Security disability may be an option for you if you have a cardiovascular condition.

Symptoms of Cardiovascular Disease

There are more than 60 forms of cardiovascular disease. Therefore, it is difficult to describe all of the potential symptoms that could indicate that you have one of these medical conditions. However, there are some general symptoms of many forms of cardiovascular disease. These symptoms include:

  • Chest discomfort or pain (angina)

  • Pain in different parts of the body such as an arm, left shoulder, neck, jaw, back

  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath

  • Rapid or abnormal heartbeat

  • Dizziness

  • Lethargy or feeling very tired

Cardiovascular disease can also affect the brain when a blood clot becomes lodged in a small brain artery. This can cause a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA), also called a mini-stroke. Symptoms are sudden and may include:

  • Numbness in the arm, leg, or face—often on one side of the body

  • Confusion

  • Trouble speaking or understanding others

  • Trouble with vision in one or both eyes

  • Trouble with walking, balance, or coordination

  • Unexplained headache

Finally, if arteries to your legs, arms, or pelvis are affected by cardiovascular disease, you may experience aching, cramping, or pain in the muscles. This may get worse when you are active and improve when you are resting. You may also experience numbness or a cold sensation in your feet or toes which could get worse at night.

Any of these symptoms should be brought to your doctor’s attention immediately so that you can receive a prompt diagnosis and start on a treatment plan as soon as possible.

Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease

You may be at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease because of your:

  • Age. As people age, the risk of damage to the arteries and the narrowing of the arteries increases.

  • Family history. If you have a parent, brother, or sister with heart disease, you may be at greater risk.

  • Smoking. Smoking is one causal factor in atherosclerosis because of the damage from both nicotine and carbon monoxide.

  • Poor eating habits. Generally, high fat, cholesterol, and salt in a diet can be risk factors.

  • High cholesterol. When your blood cholesterol levels are high, plaque formation may increase.

  • High blood pressure. Uncontrolled blood pressure may contribute to the hardening of the arteries.

  • Obesity. Being overweight can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

  • Diabetes. Diabetes may contribute to cardiovascular disease.

  • Lack of exercise. A "couch potato" lifestyle can lead to many forms of heart disease.

  • Stress. Severe, unrelenting emotional or physical stress may be a factor in whether or not you develop heart disease.

  • Congenital heart defects. You may be born with a condition that makes heart disease more likely.

However, having one or more of these risk factors does not mean that you will inevitably suffer from cardiovascular disease. Instead, it means that you should speak with your doctor about your risks and about any screening that is important to your health.

Is Social Security Disability an Option for You?

If you are suffering from cardiovascular disease and you are unable to work, then you may consider applying for Social Security disability benefits. It is important to let your doctor know about all of your symptoms so that the right treatments can be tried and so that your medical record will accurately reflect your symptoms when you apply for disability benefits.

Are You Looking for a Social Security Disability Attorney in Boston, MA?

If you are looking to apply for social security disability, you need to speak with an experienced social security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 508.283.5500 to schedule your free consultation.


John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer