Cardiac disease kills or disables more Americans than any other condition – and costs businesses billions a year in lost productivity and profits. There’s no better time to have a heart-to-heart talk with your employees about how to reduce their risk of suffering a cardiac episode.
Spend some time on the symptoms. Make sure that employees can recognize the signs of a possible heart attack – whether in themselves or a co-worker. Common symptoms include: 1) chest discomfort, mainly in the center of the chest, that lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and returns; the discomfort might feel like an uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain; 2) discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach; 3) shortness of breath often accompanies chest discomfort, but can also occur before chest pains; and 4) other symptoms, such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or light-headedness.
Warn employees not to ignore any possible symptoms. Even if they’re not sure it’s a heart attack, they should still have it checked out. Fast action saves lives. A delay in getting treatment can result in permanent heart damage that can greatly reduce the ability to perform everyday activities – or even result in death.
Emphasize prevention. Let your employees know that they can help reduce the risk of suffering heart attack by taking a few basic steps:
- Don’t smoke. It doubles your risk of heart attack. However, soon after you stop smoking, your risk drops to that of a lifelong nonsmoker.
- Eat healthy. Choose nutritious foods low in cholesterol and saturated fat, focusing on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low fat and nonfat dairy products. Avoid junk food and sugary snacks.
- Get some exercise. Find an activity that you enjoy and do it regularly.