102 million Americans suffer from high cholesterol, according to the CDC. That’s nearly a third of all residents of the United States.
While high cholesterol itself doesn’t have any symptoms, and you won’t know you have it unless you take a blood test, it can lead to other problems. It also puts you at risk of having other conditions or diseases that can be life-threatening or life-altering.
But what about a VA disability rating for high cholesterol? Does it count toward the amount of money the VA may award you?
In this post, we’ll discuss the VA disability rating for high cholesterol and other related conditions and illnesses.
What We Cover In This Article on High Cholesterol VA Disability
- What Is High Cholesterol?
- What is Cholesterol?
- How Is Too Much LDL Bad for You?
- What Causes High Cholesterol?
- What Diseases or Conditions Does High Cholesterol Cause?
- Is There a VA Disability Rating for High Cholesterol?
- VA Rating for Diabetes
- VA Disability Rating for High Blood Pressure
- VA Disability Rating for High Triglycerides
- VA Disability, Cholesterol and Related Conditions
What Is High Cholesterol?
You’ve probably heard the word bandied around, even if your doctor hasn’t specifically diagnosed you with high cholesterol. So what exactly does it mean, and what other illnesses can it be linked to?
As we stated in the introduction, high cholesterol itself is not a condition to be alarmed at. That’s because, by itself, it only means you have too much cholesterol in your blood, and there are no symptoms attached to it. As such, you can only find out you have high cholesterol after your doctor orders a blood test.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol itself is a type of fat, or lipid, which your body produces naturally. In fact, your body needs cholesterol to help with certain processes within it.
But cholesterol cannot travel in your blood on its own, which is how it gets to the various parts of the body to perform the functions necessary. In order to do so, your body creates lipoproteins.
These lipoproteins, which you may have guessed, are both fat and proteins, carry both cholesterol and triglycerides through your body and get them where they need to be to perform their functions.
The lipoproteins that carry the cholesterol and triglycerides through your body are known as high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL).
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If your body has created too many low-density lipoproteins to carry your cholesterol, it means you have high cholesterol.
Sometimes, people parse out LDL as “bad cholesterol” and HDL and “good cholesterol.” However, this framework can be damaging. That’s because your body needs both forms of cholesterol in order to perform the necessary duties to keep you alive. As such, you should think of it as everything in moderation, including LDL cholesterol.
Here are some tips on your C&P exam from one of our VA disability lawyers.
How Is Too Much LDL Bad for You?
We quantified above that too much LDL can present major problems for a person. But how so?
If your body has produced too much LDL, your body won’t be able to carry it through your bloodstream. This will start to cause a blockage or build-up of cholesterol plaque.
When the build-up becomes too significant, this makes it difficult for blood to flow through the arteries, delivering blood and other materials to the heart and the rest of the body. If it blocks it completely, this can cause a blood clot, which can result in cutting off blood flow to the brain or heart. This can result in a stroke or heart attack.
What Causes High Cholesterol?
There are a few things that can cause high cholesterol, so it is important that you maintain a healthy lifestyle in order to keep your cholesterol down. Often, a lifestyle change can help lower your cholesterol levels.
Being obese with a BMI greater than 30 gives you a greater risk of having high cholesterol. If you have a BMI greater than 30, it is important to try and implement diet changes that can bring this down.
A lack of exercise can cause high cholesterol. Exercise helps your body create more HDL while reducing the size of your LDL. Smaller LDL particles make it easier to travel through your bloodstream and make it less risky. The smaller the LDL particles, the less likely they will block vital arteries that can cause strokes and heart attacks.
While we already know that smoking can increase the risk of lung cancer, it can also increase the risk of high cholesterol. Smoking can make your blood vessels more prone to allowing fatty deposits to accumulate. It can also lower your HDL levels significantly.
If you smoke, it is important that you attempt to quit, no matter your age. But, it is especially important that you start to quit if you’re older, obese, not eating well and/or are not exercising.
If your doctor has told you to have high cholesterol, you should make a plan to stop smoking immediately.
Diet High in Trans Fat and Saturated Fat
Americans are prone to diets high in trans and saturated fats. Saturated fats are found in animal products, like meat and dairy, while trans fats are often found in items like commercially made bakery items, popcorn and other dietery staples.
While everything in moderation is a mantra that should be followed, having too much of these types of items can lead to high cholesterol. If you have high cholesterol, your doctor may have given you a diet to follow. But it is important that you have a diet that is high in fruits and vegetables, and lower in trans and saturated fats in order to keep your cholesterol levels down.
Diabetes and High Cholesterol
When your blood sugar is high, this can be a factor in your body creating very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL), which contributes greatly to high cholesterol.
Unfortunately, this is one aspect you cannot control when it comes to high cholesterol. Your body changes as you age, and you’ve likely found yourself less able to do a variety of things you could do when you were younger. Suffice to say, your liver is also less able to remove LDL cholesterol from your blood as you get older.
What Diseases or Conditions Does High Cholesterol Cause?
There are several diseases and conditions that high cholesterol can cause. Let’s look at some of them below.
As we mentioned earlier in the article, having high cholesterol can cause a stroke. This is because too much cholesterol can clog arteries that lead to the brain. Having a blockage of one of these arteries can lead to a stroke.
As we mentioned previously, a build-up of cholesterol blocking the arteries leading to the heart can cause a heart attack. Heart disease itself is an umbrella term for many disorders that can affect your heart, but in this case, high cholesterol can affect your arteries.
Coronary heart disease, which is under the umbrella of heart disease, is when you blood supply gets cut off or impacted by cholesterol plaque that has lodged itself in the arteries leading to the heart.
Peripheral Vascular Disease
While high cholesterol can lead to an interruption, or blockage, of blood leading to the brain or heart, it can also do so in other parts of the body. As such, this is called peripheral vascular disease, because it does not impact the blood flow to these major organs. High cholesterol may also impact blood flow to the legs, hands, arms and feet.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is also linked to high cholesterol. This is due to the fact that when arteries are narrowed due to cholesterol plaque, the heart has to pump even harder to move the blood around the body. This leads to high blood pressure or hypertension.
Is There a VA Disability Rating for High Cholesterol?
Now that you’ve read about what high cholesterol is and how it can impact the body, we can focus on the question at hand. Is there a VA disability rating for high cholesterol?
Unfortunately, there is not. The VA does not recognize high cholesterol as something that can be related to service. This is likely because high cholesterol is often a byproduct of a combination of genetics, age, a lack of exercise and unhealthy eating. When one is serving, they are typically younger than the age that most people begin to experience high cholesterol.
Additionally, when one is serving, they are forced to meet the requirements of healthy BMIs and are expected to exercise in a regimented way. As such, the VA does not believe high cholesterol has anything to do with service.
However, the VA does recognize several conditions that are linked to high cholesterol as eligible to receive a disability rating. That is why it’s important to know what high cholesterol is, and the conditions that may be related to it.
Let’s look at some conditions that are related to high cholesterol and earn VA ratings.
VA Rating for Diabetes
The VA does give veterans a disability rating for diabetes. As with all other VA disability ratings, it goes by a factor of 10%. Typically, those with diabetes will receive a rating of 10%, 20%, 40%, 60% or 100%.
VA Disability Rating for High Blood Pressure
The VA does have a disability rating for high blood pressure and typically rates it between 10% and 60%. This is partially because high blood pressure may arise not only due to high cholesterol, but to other service related conditions like PTSD and anxiety.
The ratings are on 10%, 20%, 40% or 60% intervals. For a 10% rating, your diastolic blood pressure must be between 100 to 109 or systolic between 160 and 199. For a 60% disability rating, your diastolic blood pressure must be 130 or more.
VA Disability Rating for High Triglycerides
High triglycerides are often spoken of in conjunction with high cholesterol. Many people with high triglycerides also have high cholesterol, so it is natural to inquire if these high triglycerides also affect your VA disability rating.
Triglycerides differ from cholesterol in a few key ways but are often confused as they are both a type of lipid, or fat.
To put it simply, triglycerides help your body create energy as they help keep ahold of unused calories in the event your body needed or wanted them to create energy. When you lose weight, you are using triglycerides as a replacement for the calories you’re consuming.
Cholesterol, on the other hand, helps with cell creation.
However, according to the VA, neither high triglycerides nor high cholesterol offer up a VA disability benefits rating. This is because the VA has ruled that they are laboratory findings and not disabilities on their own.
As such, there is also no VA disability rating for hypercholesterolemia. The VA has also ruled that this, in itself, is a laboratory finding and not an actual disability that would require one to receive compensation.
On the same note, hyperlipidemia was also ruled as a laboratory finding, and not a disability.
VA Disability, Cholesterol and Related Conditions
Unfortunately, there is no VA disability rating for high cholesterol, but if a related disease or condition has made life very difficult for you, you may wish to explore whether you are entitled to some VA benefits. VA benefits may help make your life that much easier, allowing you a little bit of money to make up for service-connected conditions.
Are you still wondering if you may qualify for service-related disability? If so, you may wish to have a look at our VA disability calculator to help give you an idea of what you might qualify for.
Or, you may wish to contact us to see how a law firm trained in this discipline can help you get the compensation you deserve. Don’t hesitate to contact us today.
No, it isn’t. If you believe that your heart condition was caused by Agent Orange or some other activity while you were a soldier, you are on the right course to prove a service-connection for your disability. Let’s go over your medical records for free and see if you have a case.
It’s hard to get a direct service connected rating for high cholesterol, but there are several disabilities that can make high cholesterol a secondary service connection because of obesity, diabetes, or injuries that prevent exercise. See the whole list in this article.