Heart disease is one of the leading causes of health problems in the United States. One specific type of heart disease, myocardial disease, is little-known. Often undiagnosed, it is estimated that as many as 1 in 500 American adults suffers from the myocardial disease.
This condition involves severe symptoms and may lead to sudden death. Because many people with the myocardial disease are unable to work once they are diagnosed, they may rely on
long-term disability (LTD) insurance to support themselves. These benefits can make a world of difference in the life of a person afflicted with a serious, disabling condition.
While the myocardial disease may not be well-known, those who have been diagnosed with it are often able to receive LTD benefits. Working with a New Jersey disability benefits attorney can increase the likelihood of having your disability benefits application approved.
What Is Myocardial Disease?
Myocardial disease refers to conditions of the muscle tissue of the heart. Also referred to as cardiomyopathy, the myocardial disease makes it more difficult for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body. It can lead to heart failure.
Primary myocardial diseases have a genetic cause, while secondary myocardial disease tends to be acquired (but may still have a genetic component). The secondary myocardial disease is more common.
Symptoms of the myocardial disease usually do not appear until the condition has advanced. They may include:
- Swelling of the legs, ankles, and feet
- Breathlessness with exertion or at rest
- Bloating of the abdomen due to fluid buildup
- Rapid, pounding or fluttering heartbeats
- Chest discomfort or pressure
- Cough while laying down
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting
There are three main types of myocardial disease or cardiomyopathy: dilated, hypertrophic and restrictive cardiomyopathy. Treatment for myocardial disease depends on the type.
- Dilated cardiomyopathy: the left ventricle, which controls the pumping of the heart’s main pumping chamber, becomes enlarged (dilated) and cannot effectively pump blood out of the heart.
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: the heart muscle abnormally thickens, particularly in the left ventricle, making it difficult for the heart to work properly.
- Restrictive cardiomyopathy: the heart muscle loses elasticity and becomes more rigid so that it cannot expand between heartbeats.
In addition, a rare form of myocardial disease, arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia happens when the muscle in the right ventricle of the heart is replaced by scar tissue, leading to problems with heart rhythm. All other types of myocardial disease are referred to as unclassified cardiomyopathy.
In addition to causing significant symptoms, the myocardial disease can lead to other heart conditions, including:
- Heart failure
- Blood clots
- Valve problems
- Cardiac arrest
- Sudden death
The myocardial disease is diagnosed through a number of tests, along with a physical examination and a personal and family medical history. A treating physician may order a chest X-ray, an echocardiogram, an electrocardiogram, a treadmill stress test, a cardiac catheterization to take a biopsy of heart muscle tissue, cardiac MRI, cardiac CT scan, blood tests, and/or genetic testing or screening.
Based on the specific type of myocardial disease that you have been diagnosed with as well as your symptoms, your doctor may prescribe medication to improve your heart’s ability to pump blood, slow your heart rate, reduce your blood pressure, keep blood clots from forming, or remove excess fluid from your body. A doctor may also surgically implant a device, such as a pacemaker or a defibrillator, or perform a procedure such as an ablation to treat the condition. A surgery to remove thickened heart muscle wall known as a septal myectomy may also be performed to improve blood flow through the heart.
How Can You Qualify for Long-Term Disability for Myocardial Disease?
While each individual experiences different symptoms of myocardial disease, it is a potentially serious illness that may lead to heart failure. Depending on the type, the symptoms associated with the myocardial disease may prevent a person from working entirely.
Long-term disability benefits offer a way for individuals with disabilities, like myocardial disease, to receive monthly payments when they are unable to work. These benefits usually kick in after a waiting period of 3 to 6 months and payout at a rate of 50 to 60% of your salary. Depending on the terms of your policy, LTD benefits may be paid for 24 months, until the disability resolves, or until retirement.
It is important to review your LTD insurance policy for any limitations or exclusions and to understand its basic terms. Generally, you will be required to prove that you have been diagnosed with the myocardial disease and that the symptoms of your disease have rendered you unable to work.
As an initial matter, you can demonstrate that you have been diagnosed with a specific type of cardiomyopathy by submitting diagnostic records and notes from your treating physician to the insurance company. Because a diagnosis of the myocardial disease is based on objective evidence — rather than subjective complaints — it is often a relatively simple process to prove your diagnosis, provided that you gather the proper documentation and sign the appropriate releases.
Next, you will need to link how your symptoms impact your ability to work. This is best accomplished by having your treating physician (such as a cardiologist) draft a letter giving their opinion on your abilities and limitations. For example, your doctor may state that you must be able to have your feet propped up due to swelling, that you cannot walk for more than 10 minutes due to breathlessness, and that you cannot stand due to dizziness and lightheadedness.
There are a number of ways that the symptoms of the myocardial disease can affect your job performance. Extreme fatigue can make it difficult to concentrate, while fainting can make it dangerous to work in many job situations. Heartbeat irregularities and fluid buildup in your abdomen can also make you uncomfortable and unable to focus on work.
Medications that you take to alleviate your symptoms may also cause significant side effects. For example, medications that improve blood flow may cause vomiting, upset stomach, dizziness and headaches. Medicine designed to reduce fluid in your body may cause the need to urinate frequently, making it difficult to stay at your position long enough to accomplish your job.
The myocardial disease is a serious condition that can be debilitating for those who suffer from it. If you have been diagnosed with any type of cardiomyopathy, you may be approved for LTD benefits if you are unable to work.
Seeking Help from a New Jersey Disability Benefits Attorney
When you are diagnosed with a condition as severe as myocardial disease, the last thing that you want to worry about is how you will pay your bills or keep a roof over your head. Long-term disability insurance can help to alleviate those concerns — if your application for benefits is approved. A seasoned New Jersey disability benefits attorney can work with you to help you increase the likelihood of a positive outcome.
At Bross & Frankel, we strongly believe that each of our clients deserves the highest quality representation — which is what we strive to do in every case. For more than 20 years, we have represented clients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania who are unable to work due to a disability. Contact us today at 856-795-8800 or online to schedule a free disability claim review.