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Ischemic Heart Disease and Agent Orange

Veterans who develop ischemic heart disease and were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service do not have to prove a connection between their disease and service to be eligible to receive VA health care and disability compensation.

About heart disease

illustration of heart in chest

Ischemic heart disease is also known as coronary artery disease or “hardening of the arteries.”

Cholesterol plaque can build up in the arteries of the heart and cause “ischemia,” which means the heart is not getting enough blood flow and oxygen. If the plaque blocks an artery, a heart attack can result.

Up to 90 percent of heart attacks are due to: smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, abdominal obesity ("spare tire"), not eating enough fruits and vegetables, lack of exercise, drinking too much alcohol, and stress.

Visit Medline Plus to learn about treatment for coronary artery disease, the latest medical research, and more from the National Institutes of Health.

Lower your risk of heart disease

Here’s how: Exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Get help to quit smoking. Limit alcohol. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Learn more about healthy living.

VA benefits for ischemic heart disease

Veterans with ischemic heart disease who were exposed to herbicides during service may be eligible for disability compensation and health care.

Veterans who served in Vietnam, the Korean demilitarized zone or another area where Agent Orange was sprayed may be eligible for a free Agent Orange registry health exam.

Surviving spouses, dependent children and dependent parents of Veterans who were exposed to herbicides during military service and died as the result of ischemic heart disease may be eligible for survivors' benefits.

Research on ischemic heart disease and herbicides

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences concluded in its report "Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2008" released July 24, 2009, that there is "suggestive but limited evidence that exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides used during the Vietnam War is associated with an increased chance of developing ischemic heart disease."

As a result, VA recognized ischemic heart disease as associated with exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service. VA's final regulation recognizing this association took effect on October 30, 2010.

View more research on health effects of Agent Orange.

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