I recently conducted some research for a client’s case wherein I was trying to establish service-connection for sleep apnea and a number of other problems. The doctors for the VA rejected the association between service and the sleep apnea on the grounds that the Veteran’s sleep apnea was due to obesity. Generally, obesity is not something for which service-connection can be obtained. In addition, in this particular case, there was no evidence of any significant obesity during service. However, the Veteran was diagnosed with kidney stones during service and was diagnosed with hypertension within about seven (7) months of discharge from active duty. So in trying to analyze this case and find a coherent medical thesis to explain his medical problems, I happened upon an article from the American Journal of Kidney Diseases. This article entitled “Association Between Metabolic Syndrome and the Presence of Kidney Stones in a Screen Population” provided the necessary link that I was looking for. In essence, the article found that kidney stones were associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome; or metabolic syndrome was associated with a significant increased risk of kidney stone presence. In other words, I could establish the possible presence of metabolic syndrome in-service by virtue of the presence of kidney stones during service. I add to this the concept of elevated blood pressure that was diagnosed within seven months after discharge and I can reach the as likely as not conclusion that this Veteran suffered from metabolic syndrome during service, which later led to his obesity after service and hence, his sleep apnea.
Metabolic syndrome is essentially insulin resistance and it tends to promote numerous health problems that can lead to Type II Diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This information is very critical to a veteran who has had VA deny a claim for heart disease, diabetes, or sleep apnea. This research underscores the need for any Veteran with a complex medical problem to thoroughly research the medical literature and develop a comprehensive medical theory of his case. Good research is the starting point for any seasoned veterans benefits attorney. In our office, as veterans disability lawyers, we rely heavily upon medical research in order to provide initial screenings of cases and to determine whether or not these cases warrant further retention by a medical expert. If you are suffering from a number of complex medical conditions and do not know where to turn in an effort to win your appeal, then we invite you to take advantage of the free educational resources available on our website, as well as to consider contacting our office to determine whether we can help.