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Common Causes of Disability: Heart Disease & Stroke

According to the website, Americans have a one in three chance of becoming disabled before they retire. Common causes of disability include:

  • Arthritis and other musculoskeletal problems
  • Back pain
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Diabetes

Our next few blog posts will provide more detail about each of these conditions.

Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

About 610,000 people die from heart disease every year. Coronary heart disease is the most common form of heart disease, killing 370,000 people annually. Heart disease death rates are highest in the South and lowest in the West.

Here are some of the major types of heart disease:

  • Heart attack
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Heart rhythm disorders
  • Heart valve disease
  • Sudden cardiac death
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Enlarged heart (cardiomyopathy)
  • Heart muscle disease
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Restrictive cardiomyopathy
  • Pericarditis
  • Pericardial effusion
  • Marfan syndrome
  • Heart murmurs

Not all of these are fatal or even significantly disabling. All, however, should be treated to prevent further damage and disability.


Stroke is either the third or the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, depending on the statistics used. It is the leading cause of long-term disability in the U.S., according to the website According to the site, 795,000 people suffer strokes each year, with 185,000 of them being second or third attacks. The vast majority of strokes, around 75 percent, occur in people over age 65. However, people can suffer strokes at any age. More people in the South die from stroke than in other parts of the country.

Smokers have a significantly higher risk of stroke than do nonsmokers. Atrial fibrillation is associated with stroke, but the highest risk factor for stroke is high blood pressure.

Having a stroke affects individuals differently. It may cause problems with thinking, awareness, attention, learning, judgment and memory. It can cause speech and emotional problems such as depression. Patients often report numbness in their extremities. The most disabling condition is usually paralysis or weakness on one side of the body - the side controlled by the part of the brain where the stroke occurred.

Contact an SSD Advocate

If your heart condition or the aftermath of a stroke leaves you unable to work, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. To learn more, contact Binder & Binder®, America's most successful SSD advocates. Tell them your story and find out how they can help.

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