The Beat Goes On: February is Heart Health Month
February 14th is Valentine’s Day which is associated with hearts, no wonder February has been adopted as Heart Month. We all know that heart health is important and we can all probably recite the facts by heart:
- Cardiovascular disease is the 2nd leading cause of death in Canada,
- Men are more likely to die of a heart attack than women,
- One in 12 Canadians over the age of 20 live with diagnosed heart disease,
- High blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes are contributing risk factors,
- A healthier lifestyle can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Healthy lifestyle habits include:
- Eating better
- Getting more exercise
- Quitting smoking
- Limiting alcohol consumption
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Reducing stress
As repetitious and tedious as this may seem, the reality is that every one of us will likely be affected by cardiovascular disease, either directly or indirectly, at some point in our lives and the annual Heart Month campaign is a great reminder to pay attention.
Cardiovascular Events and the WCB
Cardiovascular events, such as strokes and heart attacks, can happen any place at any time including the workplace. So, if a worker suffers a stroke or heart attack while on the job does that meant that it should be covered by WCB? Well, the answer is not so simple.
Cardiac claims are assessed on a case by case basis to determine the full extent, if any, of the WCB’s liability. If there is evidence of occupational exposure to factors known or presumed to be associated with cardiovascular problems and a relationship can be established between the time of the exposure and the cardiovascular event, then the claim may be acceptable.
Occupational exposure is defined but not limited to:
- Physical Causes: such as direct blows or penetrating injuries to the heart, lack of oxygen or following significant physical exertion.
- Chemical Causes: such as exposure to chemical or inhalation of noxious fumes that are known to cause cardiac conditions.
- Occupational Causes: such as exposure to infections, or heart disease secondary to another compensable condition such as lung disease.
- Psychological Causes: involving exposure to significant and acute psychological stress.
In many instances, a degree of cost relief is provided to employers for situations such as:
- pre-existing cardiac conditions that were aggravated by occupational factors
- other injuries sustained at the time of a cardiac event at work
- the acceptance of a cardiac claim based on a presumptive causal relationship between work exposure and a heart attack.
Needless to say, cardiac claims can be complex.
Regardless of whether a heart attack or stroke that happens at work is compensable, knowing what to look for, when to react and how to respond can greatly improve outcomes and odds of survival. That is why every organization should have a sound Heart and Stroke policy as part of their Health and Safety Management program, including educational posters strategically placed around the workplace, quick reference pocket cards and mobile phone apps. The life you may be saving could be yours!
More information and educational materials can be found at the Public Health Agency of Canada or the Heart and Stroke Foundation websites. If you have concerns regarding a WCB claim or how to improve your Health and Safety Management program you can contact us directly, during business hours, using our chat feature, by phone at 1-844-377-9545, or you can reach us by email at [email protected], [email protected], and you can always connect with us on Facebook , Twitter , or LinkedIn.