Despite links to Agent Orange, hypertension still not considered presumptive by VA

Despite links to Agent Orange, hypertension still not considered presumptive by VA

Herbicide Exposure and Vietnam Service are linked to Hypertension (high blood pressure), according to multiple studies. Unfortunately, the VA has not yet recognized Vietnam veteran hypertension as a presumptive disease or condition.

The Army Chemical Corps (ACC) Vietnam-Era Veterans Health Study (2012-2013) was designed to learn if hypertension and some chronic respiratory diseases are related to herbicide exposure during the Vietnam War. ACC Veterans were chosen for the study because of their documented occupational involvement with chemical distribution, storage, and maintenance during military service.

Researchers analyzed data from the 2013 health survey of 3,086 ACC Veterans assigned to perform chemical operations during the Vietnam War, and concluded there was a significant association (link) between the Veteran’s service-related occupational exposure to herbicides and hypertension risk.

The odds of developing hypertension among herbicide sprayers were estimated to be 1.74 times the odds among non-sprayers, and the odds of developing hypertension among those who served in Vietnam were 1.26 times the odds among non-Vietnam Veterans.

The VA reports “…an association between both hypertension risk and exposure to herbicides, and hypertension risk and military service in Vietnam.” (emphasis added)

Hypertension has been linked to service in Vietnam and exposure to herbicides, including Agent Orange, in multiple studies. A similar study conducted in 1999-2000 of ACC Vietnam veterans who sprayed defoliant in Vietnam showed a significant elevation of hypertension. And in the Veterans and Agent Orange Update 2006 (published July 27, 2007), The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies updated Hypertension to the “Limited or Suggestive Evidence of Association” category, a change from the 2004 Update.

Unfortunately, the VA has not yet recognized Vietnam veteran hypertension as a presumptive disease. And so the vigil continues for Vietnam veterans suffering from chronic health conditions, including high blood pressure, more than four decades after the war ended.

Meanwhile, the research continues on Vietnam veteran hypertension. The Health and Medicine Division (HMD) (formerly known as the Institute of Medicine) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has begun its 11th review, “Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2017.”

The current list of presumptive diseases is published in Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations – 38 CFR 3.309(e).
All published Agent Orange Updates can be found at: http://www.nationalacademies.org. Published updates are also available for download on VetsHQ at https://www.vetshq.com/agent-orange-and-herbicides/ (scroll to the bottom and click the tile of the study you would like to download).

Sources: National Institutes of Health, Department of Veterans Affairs, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, Health and Medicine Division

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