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Suggested guidelines for rating cardiac disability in workers' compensation. Medical and Chiropractic Advisory Committee to the Administrative Director of the California Division of Industrial Accidents.
Department of Industrial Relations, State of California, San Francisco.
Cardiac disability ratings in workers' compensation cases currently lack any consistent scientific basis, with varying medical evidence used by different examiners in the same case. Opinions about the extent of disability may differ with the same patient, delaying resolution and the delivery of benefits. We describe guidelines for determining cardiac impairment and suggest a schedule for rating disability based on evidence. Our experience is in California, but arriving at equitable ratings for disability purposes is a nationwide challenge. Exercise stress testing provides the best reproducible data to test the heart's ability to do work. When exercise stress testing is not possible or adequate, alternative or supplemental testing is necessary. Certain conditions, such as hypertension, arrhythmias, coronary artery spasm, and a history of coronary artery operations or myocardial infarction, may affect "cardiac disability" but may not necessarily be reflected in exercise testing.