Hearts at work

February is heart health month. I’ve been thinking a lot about the heart-health-and-work connection while noticing how many of the reported workplace fatalities in Oregon were caused by heart attack, and a smaller number, stroke. We’ve had several conversations at the Oregon Construction Advisory Committee about responding to heart attacks and the importance of having Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) at work.

While we know there are many personal and individual factors impacting the health of our hearts, can we in fact imagine workplace connections? Stress, long work days without exercise, fewer healthy eating choices, and poor sleep caused by shift work are among a few. And while the causal connection may be harder to identify, we know we can create and support heart healthy workplaces and solutions.

The CDC Initiative, the National Healthy Worksite Program, provides employers resources to adopt workplace health improvement programs to prevent heart disease and stroke and related conditions among employees. Here are some things suggested by CDC:

  • Provide places to purchase healthy food and beverages, including choices in vending machines.
  • Provide an exercise facility onsite or subsidize or discount the use of offsite facilities.

    Supporting Employee Health. Photo credit: Go By Bike
  • Encourage employees to use the stairs.
  • Provide organized individual or group physical activities.
  • Provide free or subsidized one-on-one or group lifestyle counseling for those who are overweight.
  • Provide dedicated space where employees can engage in relaxation activities – yoga, meditation, biofeedback.
  • Provide Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) onsite and training for CPR and AEDs.

To this we would add, support healthy and safe commuting, recognize the role of stress and lack of sleep on heart health, and seek ways to engage employees to create a culture of health at work and beyond.

What is your organization doing to address hearts at work?

Heart Health info from CDC
Warning signs from American Heart Association.