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When it’s difficult to move and feel energetic, it can be difficult to work. Cardiomyopathy is a condition that affects the heart and can make it difficult to work for many reasons. Anyone who has this condition should know what resources are available to them so that they can make the best decision for themselves about whether or not they can work. And if they can’t work, they should know that there are disability benefits available through the Social Security Administration. Knowing about what will be required to receive these benefits is a first step in gaining the financial support that they need.

What is Cardiomyopathy?

Cardiomyopathy is a hereditary condition that affects the heart. The heart of people with this condition has more difficulties pumping the blood to the rest of the body, which can even lead to heart failure. There are three main types of cardiomyopathy, including dilated, hypertrophic, and restrictive cardiomyopathy. Dilated cardiomyopathy is when the left ventricle becomes enlarged, resulting in the heart’s inability to pump effectively. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is one in which the heart thickens, making it more difficult for the heart to pump effectively. Restrictive cardiomyopathy is when the muscle becomes stiff and less flexible, so it has difficulties expanding to fill with blood.

Many times, no one knows the exact reason why some people have cardiomyopathy other than there is a hereditary component to it. There are, however, some health conditions and behaviors that can make it more likely that someone could aquire cardiomyopathy. For instance, certain infections, such as COVID-19 and other infections that cause inflammation in the heart, can increase the likelihood of developing cardiomyopathy. Additionally, other pre-existing heart conditions, such as high blood pressure over a long period of time, damage from a heart attack, rapid heart rate, and heart valve problems, can all increase the likelihood of developing cardiomyopathy. There are also metabolic disorders, such as thyroid disease, diabetes, and obesity, that can increase the likelihood of developing the condition.

A lack of certain vitamins or an excess of certain minerals can also cause damage. For instance, a lack of thiamin can increase the likelihood, and an iron buildup in the heart muscle can also increase the chances. Complications during pregnancy, inflammatory cells in the body, including the heart and lungs, and connective tissue disorders can also make it more likely that a person will develop cardiomyopathy.

In terms of behaviors, using cocaine, amphetamines, anabolic steroids, drinking too much alcohol, or even receiving chemotherapy and radiation to treat cancer can also increase the likelihood of developing cardiomyopathy.

Symptoms of Cardiomyopathy

The symptoms of cardiomyopathy can be unnoticeable in the early stages of the disease, but as time goes on, it can become more obvious. Some people will experience a worsening very quickly, and some people won’t see the condition worsened for quite some time.

One of these symptoms includes breathlessness while doing activities or even when at rest. Some people might also experience swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, and even veins in the neck. Fluid buildup in the abdomen, which causes bloating, is also common. A cough while lying down is common, and many people have difficulties sleeping while lying flat or will experience fatigue. They might also have a rapid, fluttering, or pounding heartbeat. Experiences of chest discomfort and pain are also common because the heart has difficulties keeping up with the demand, and some people will even have dizziness to the point of fainting.

If cardiomyopathy isn’t treated, there can be significant complications. For instance, cardiomyopathy can lead to heart failure, which can be life-threatening. Some people might also get blood clots because the heart isn’t pumping the blood effectively. Additionally, some people might also develop heart valve problems because the heart enlarges because it has to work harder. When heart valves don’t close correctly, the blood can actually flow backward.

Treatments for Cardiomyopathy

Completely curing cardiomyopathy isn’t possible, but it is possible to manage the symptoms, prevent them from getting worse, and reduce the risk of complications. The type of treatment that a person receives for cardiomyopathy will depend on which type of cardiomyopathy they have.

One of the most common types of treatments that is used is medication. Some of the goals for using medications include improving the heart’s ability to pump blood. Doctors also want to focus on lowering blood pressure, slowing the heart rate, preventing blood clots, removing excessive amounts of fluid from the body, and improving overall blood flow.

There are nonsurgical procedures, including therapies, that are used to treat cardiomyopathy and certain types of arrhythmia. One type is septal ablation, which is when a part of the thickened heart muscle is injected with alcohol to destroy a part of the thickened heart muscle. This will allow blood to go through that part of the heart. Another option is radiofrequency ablation, which uses electrodes to damage part of the hardened tissue of the heart.

Some people might need surgery, such as one to implant a device that will keep the heart pumping. For instance, an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator can be implanted into the heart to send electric shocks when the heart has an abnormal rhythm. Additionally, a ventricular assist device can be implanted to help the blood flow through the heart. This device is often used when a person is waiting for a heart transplant. Finally, some people might also get a pacemaker, which is a device that’s placed underneath the skin to give electrical shocks to control arrhythmia.

Disability Benefits for Cardiomyopathy

Some people with cardiomyopathy might need benefits to take care of their bills until they’re better, and while there used to be a separate listing in the Blue Book for Social Security disability benefits, the listing has been removed because people with this condition can apply under the listings for congestive heart failure, ischemic heart disease, or arrhythmia.

Additionally, whether or not someone receives disability benefits through the Social Security Administration for their cardiomyopathy somewhat depends on the reason for the cardiomyopathy and what kind of treatments are available. For instance, someone who has cardiomyopathy because of alcohol intake is unlikely to receive benefits because they would greatly improve their cardiomyopathy by quitting drinking. Additionally, some people might have a treatment that could significantly alleviate their cardiomyopathy. For instance, the coronary artery bypass might improve symptoms dramatically, so someone who has never gone through any kind of surgery or other types of treatment might not be eligible for the disability benefits.

Anyone who is going through the process of trying to attain benefits can also apply via the residual-functional capacity test if they don’t qualify under a different listing. When a person applies this way, they will need to work with their doctor to come up with a list of all of their limitations and send them to the Social Security Administration, which will then compare the limitations to all of the types of work that the person has done in the past. If there are any types of work that the person could reasonably do, it’s unlikely that the applicant will receive benefits.

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There are several ways in which the team at Osterhout Berger Daley can help you receive the benefit you deserve. We help individuals who need to…

If you are facing one of these situations due to Cardiomyopathy, please do not hesitate in reaching out. Our team of experienced attorneys are here to help, and your consultation is free.

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