Delivering Safety

February 2023

Take Your Health to Heart

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, killing one person every 34 seconds. Yet many of the root causes of heart disease, including smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise, are completely preventable. February is American Heart Month, and there’s no better time to start focusing on your health. 

Use these member resources to learn more about reducing your risk of heart disease and spotting the signs of a cardiac emergency in yourself and others:

Safety Talk I Poster: CPR Saves Lives I Poster: Cardiac Arrest I Tip Sheet2-Minute Video

Know Your Risks

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, close to half of Americans have one or more risk factors for heart disease. Knowing your risks is an important first step in learning how to reduce them. 

Key risk factors include: 

Smoking. Tobacco use can damage your heart and blood vessels, raise your blood pressure and reduce the amount of oxygen in your blood. Cigarettes remain one of the leading causes of preventable disease and death in the U.S.

High blood pressure. Elevated blood pressure can impact not just your heart, but your brain and kidneys as well. Often symptomless, high blood pressure is a dangerous medical condition.

High cholesterolWhen cholesterol builds up in your arteries it can block blood flow to your heart, brain and other parts of the body. People with high cholesterol often show no signs, so getting tested is important.

ObesityObesity is common in the U.S, effecting more than 40% of adults over age 20. It can contribute to diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

While genetics and age play some role in your risk, these preventable risk factors are among the most common culprits when it comes to cardiac illnesses.

Improve Your Heart Health

You know your risk factors, but now what? Developing healthy habits can have an enormous impact on the health of your heart and reduce your risk of heart disease. 

● Quit smoking. Ask your doctor for help, find information on your employee assistance program website, or call 800-QUIT-NOW for help. 
● Eat a heart-healthy diet. Center your meals on lean meats, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and beans. Limit foods high in sodium, fat and sugar and drink alcohol in moderation. Ask your doctor for help setting a goal weight if you are overweight. 
Get more exerciseTry to get 2.5 hours of moderate activity (walking, gardening) or 75 minutes of intense activity (swimming laps, biking) each week. 
Reduce stressIf you feel stressed at work, talk to your supervisor. Remember, stress is a form of impairment and impacts your safety at work. Make time for yourself to explore a hobby, spend time with friends and family, or just relax. 
Get enough sleep. Most adults need 7 to 9 hours each night. Establishing positive sleep routines can help improve both your mental and physical health.
Schedule a wellness check. Getting an annual exam is an important way to keep track of your health. 

It can be difficult to establish new routines and habits. But you don’t have to change everything all at once to become healthier. Take things one step at a time, starting with small goals. For example, rather than eating only healthy foods, start by eating a healthy snack. Use lists and records to help keep yourself on track, and be patient with yourself along the way.

Know the Signs and Symptoms

Whether on the job or off, knowing the signs and symptoms of heart-related events can help you notice when you or someone else is in distress. Some of the most common heart-related emergencies are heart attacks and cardiac arrest. 

Heart Attack

A heart attack occurs when the heart cannot get enough blood. They can range in severity from mild to severe. The signs and symptoms include:

● Discomfort, pain or pressure in the chest
● Pain in the neck, jaw, shoulder, back, or one or both arms
● Shortness of breath, dizziness or lightheadedness
● Pale skin, sweating and a feeling of impending doom
● Women may experience nausea or vomiting and fatigue

In the event of a heart attack call 911 immediately. Help the victim rest comfortably and loosen tight clothing. If they take heart medication, help them obtain it. If possible, encourage them to swallow one aspirin or up to four baby aspirin. Stay with them and be ready to give CPR if needed. 

Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops pumping blood due to an electrical malfunction. Signs and symptoms include: 

● Loss of consciousness 
● No pulse
● Not breathing
● Death may occur in minutes without treatment

Call 911 immediately. Get an AED if possible, and start CPR. Continue chest compressions until the victim wakes up, the AED arrives or emergency services arrive. 

In a heart-related medical emergency knowing basic first aid, CPR and AED can save lives. Check back in your inbox for our February Benefit Spotlight on first aid and learn more about NSC First Aid training

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