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May 19, 2024

VA C&P Exam for Heart Conditions: What to Expect and How to Prepare

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If you’ve filed a VA claim for the heart, chances are you’re going to be scheduled for a VA C&P exam for heart conditions.

In this high-value blog post, you’ll learn “what” to expect and “how” to prepare for the big day so you can get the VA rating and compensation you deserve.

Some of the most common heart conditions in veterans include: Heart Arrhythmia, Ischemic Heart Disease (Coronary Artery Disease), Atrial Fibrillation (AFIB), Heart Murmur, Heart Disease, and Arteriosclerosis.

Pro Tip: The VA rates heart conditions from 10% to 100% based on their severity and impact on daily functioning. The VA uses METs testing to determine VA disability for heart conditions, and your VA rating depends on your symptoms at various exertion levels. Here’s the general rating formula for the heart. 10%: Workload of 7-10 METs results in symptoms or requires continuous medication. 30%: Workload of 5-7 METs results in symptoms. 60%: More than one episode of acute congestive heart failure in the past year, or workload of 3-5 METs results in symptoms. 100%: Chronic congestive heart failure, workload of 3 METs or less results in symptoms, or left ventricular dysfunction with an ejection fraction of less than 30%.

Summary of Key Points

  • VA Ratings for Heart Conditions: The VA rates 15 different heart conditions based on severity and impact on daily functioning. Ratings range from 10% for moderate symptoms to 100% for severe cases like chronic congestive heart failure.
  • Exam Objectives: The C&P exam aims to confirm a diagnosis, establish a service connection, and evaluate the severity of your symptoms and their effect on your work, life, and social functioning.
  • C&P Exam Process: During the VA exam for heart conditions, the examiner will review your medical history, discuss your symptoms, assess the impact on daily life, perform a physical examination, and conduct diagnostic tests.
  • Preparation Tips: Gather all relevant medical records, maintain a symptom diary, list the functional impacts of your condition, and review the Heart Conditions DBQ to be well-prepared for the exam.

What to Expect at Your C&P Exam for Heart Conditions

A C&P exam for heart conditions is designed to evaluate whether (#1) you have a heart condition diagnosed, (#2) determine if your heart condition was caused or made worse by your active duty military service or another service connected condition, and (#3) assess the severity of your symptoms and their negative impact on your work, life, and social functioning.

Here’s six things you can expect during a VA heart conditions C&P exam:

1. Review of Medical History

The C&P examiner will start by reviewing your medical records, including any previous diagnoses, treatments, or evaluations related to your heart condition. The examiner has access to the medical records and documents you submitted to the VA.

2. Discussion of Symptoms

The examiner will ask you about your heart condition symptoms, including when you first noticed them, how often you experience them, and the severity of the symptoms. This includes discussing chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, fatigue, and any other related symptoms.

3. Negative Impacts on Daily Life

You’ll be asked about how your heart condition affects your daily activities, such as sleeping, concentrating, working, socializing, and overall quality of life. Be honest and provide specific examples of how your heart condition interferes with your ability to function normally.

4. Physical Examination

The examiner will conduct a physical examination, which may include checking your blood pressure, heart rate, listening to your heart and lungs, and assessing for any physical signs of heart disease, such as edema or jugular venous distension.

5. Diagnostic Testing

You may undergo diagnostic tests such as an electrocardiogram (ECG), echocardiogram, stress test, and other relevant tests to assess your heart function and structure. These tests help determine the severity and specific nature of your heart condition.

6. Completion of the Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) for Heart Conditions

The examiner will document their findings on the VA DBQ for Heart Conditions, which is then submitted to the VA rater for further processing. Eventually, the VA rater will either approve, deny, or defer your VA claim for a heart condition.

What Questions Will I Be Asked for the Heart Conditions C&P Exam?

Here are the questions a veteran will likely be asked at a C&P exam for heart conditions, based on the Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) for Heart Conditions:


  • What heart conditions are you claiming for this examination?
  • Do you have a current diagnosis for any of these heart conditions? If so, please specify each diagnosis and the date it was diagnosed.


    • Describe the history of your heart condition, including when it started and how it has progressed.
    • Do any of your heart conditions qualify as Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD)? If yes, which ones?
    • What is the known cause (etiology) of each of your heart conditions, and how are they related to each other, particularly to any IHD conditions?
    • Is continuous medication required to control your heart condition? If yes, please list the medications and the heart condition they are used for.


      • Have you ever had a myocardial infarction (heart attack)? If yes, when and where were you treated?


        • Have you ever had a cardiac arrhythmia? If yes, what type of arrhythmia and what treatments have you received?


          • Have you had any heart valve conditions? If yes, which valves are affected, and what type of valve condition do you have for each?


            • Have you had any infectious heart conditions, such as active valvular infection, endocarditis, pericarditis, or syphilitic heart disease?
            • Are you currently undergoing or have you completed treatment for any active infection? If yes, describe the treatment and the site of the infection.


              • Have you had pericardial adhesions? If yes, what is the cause (etiology)?


                • Have you had any non-surgical or surgical procedures for the treatment of a heart condition? If yes, specify the procedures, dates, and treatment facilities.


                  • Have you been hospitalized for the treatment of a heart condition (excluding procedures listed above)? If yes, provide the dates and reasons for hospitalization.


                    • What are your current physical examination findings (heart rate, blood pressure, heart rhythm, etc.)?
                    • Do you have jugular-venous distension or any abnormal heart sounds?
                    • Are there any abnormalities in your peripheral pulses or signs of peripheral edema?


                      • Do you have any other physical findings, complications, conditions, signs, or symptoms related to your heart condition?
                      • Do you have any scars or disfigurements related to your heart condition or its treatment?

                        SECTION XII – DIAGNOSTIC TESTING

                        • Is there evidence of cardiac hypertrophy or dilatation? If yes, how was this documented (e.g., ECG, chest x-ray, echocardiogram)?
                        • Have you had any other diagnostic tests for your heart condition? If yes, what were the results?


                          • Have you completed any METs testing (exercise-based or interview-based)? If yes, what were the results and at what METs level do you experience symptoms?
                          • If an exercise stress test was not performed, why not?
                          • If both an exercise stress test and an interview-based METs test were performed, which results most accurately reflect your current cardiac functional level?

                            SECTION XIV – FUNCTIONAL IMPACT

                            • How do your heart conditions impact your ability to perform occupational tasks (e.g., standing, walking, lifting, sitting)?
                            • Can you provide examples of how your heart condition affects your daily activities and work?

                              SECTION XV – REMARKS

                              • Do you have any additional comments or information that may be relevant to your heart condition and its impact on your life?

                                How to Prepare for Your VA Heart Condition C&P Exam

                                Here’s some tips to help you prepare for your heart condition C&P exam:

                                1. Gather Records and Documents

                                Collect all relevant medical records, including diagnosis reports, treatment history, and any correspondence related to your heart condition. This documentation will provide essential evidence to support your claim during the examination. Review the documents in detail and feel free to bring hard copies with you to the C&P exam for reference.

                                2. Create a Symptom Diary

                                Keep a detailed log of your heart condition symptoms, noting the frequency, severity, and duration of episodes. Document any factors that exacerbate or alleviate your symptoms, such as physical activity or rest. This diary will help you articulate the impact of your heart condition on your work, life, and social functioning during the exam.

                                3. List Functional Impacts

                                Make a list of specific ways in which your heart condition affects your ability to perform daily tasks and activities. This may include difficulties with concentration, sleep disturbances, or challenges in social or work environments. Providing concrete examples of how your heart condition negatively impacts your daily functioning will strengthen your case during the exam.

                                4. Review the DBQ for Heart Conditions

                                It’s a good idea to review the Heart Conditions DBQ. Be prepared to describe the onset and progression of your heart condition symptoms over time, as well as any treatments you have pursued and their effectiveness (if any). Additionally, be prepared to discuss how your heart condition impacts your mental health, relationships, and overall well-being.

                                DBQ for Heart Conditions [Download]

                                The DBQ for Heart Conditions (including ischemic and non-ischemic heart disease, arrhythmias, valvular disease and cardiac surgery) will be completed electronically by the C&P examiner at your exam.

                                We’ve made a copy available for download below:

                                About the Author

                                Brian Reese
                                Brian Reese

                                Brian Reese

                                Brian Reese is one of the top VA disability benefits experts in the world and bestselling author of You Deserve It: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Veteran Benefits You’ve Earned (Second Edition).

                                Brian’s frustration with the VA claim process led him to create VA Claims Insider, which provides disabled veterans with tips, strategies, and lessons learned to win their VA disability compensation claim, faster, even if they’ve already filed, been denied, gave up, or don’t know where to start. 

                                As the founder of VA Claims Insider and CEO of Military Disability Made Easy, he has helped serve more than 10 million military members and veterans since 2013 through free online educational resources.

                                He is a former active duty Air Force officer with extensive experience leading hundreds of individuals and multi-functional teams in challenging international environments, including a combat tour to Afghanistan in 2011 supporting Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

                                Brian is a Distinguished Graduate of Management from the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO, and he holds an MBA from Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business, Stillwater, OK, where he was a National Honor Scholar (Top 1% of Graduate School class).

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