According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year more than 805,000 people suffer a heart attack – that’s one every 40 seconds. Long hours, physical exertion, mental stressors, and a poor diet can lead to poor cardiovascular health.
While most heart attacks are caused by heart disease, some heart attacks can be caused by work-related stressors and exertion. What happens when a heart attack happens on the job? Can you file workers’ compensation? Let’s take a look at how workers’ compensation comes into play when a heart attack happens on the job, what happens if you are unable to return to work after a heart attack, and heart-healthy lifestyle tips.
Workers’ Comp for an On-the-Job Heart Attack
When you suffer a heart attack on the job, you will have to prove the heart attack itself was work-related. The PA Department of Labor workers’ compensation program will only extend benefits for legitimate work-related injuries or illnesses. Proving your heart attack is work-related will be a challenge.
Insurance companies and employers will argue your heart attack was due to outside factors such as poor diet, pre-existing conditions, or a family history of heart disease. When you file a workers’ compensation claim after a heart attack, the burden is on you and your attorney to show a link between the work you do and the subsequent heart attack.
When filing your claim, here are areas you and your attorney should focus on:
- Medical records: Your medical records will be key in proving your heart attack was caused by your job. If you have no prior history of heart disease, medical records are important in proving your case. This is especially important if your medical records document a worsening condition like high blood pressure, panic attacks, sleep problems, and other symptoms that coincide with the dates of your employment.
- Pre-existing injuries: The insurance company may claim your heart attack was caused by pre-existing conditions or injuries found in your medical records. Even if you have a pre-existing injury, you may still be eligible for workers’ comp benefits if your job made it worse.
- Working conditions: Heat exhaustion and physical labor are top workplace conditions that can contribute to a heart attack, especially for workers in industries like construction, manufacturing, healthcare, and agriculture. In addition, stressors like harassment, tight deadlines, and long hours can also lead to a heart attack. When proving a heart attack was related to job responsibilities, outlining poor work conditions is critical to winning your case.
If you’ve suffered a heart attack on the job, it can be nearly impossible to receive workers’ comp benefits without an experienced workers’ comp lawyer on your case. Before talking to the insurance company, reach out to the team at Dale E. Anstine for a free consultation.
What If You Cannot Work After a Heart Attack?
When someone suffers a heart attack, they may not be able to return to work. If you’ve experienced a disabling work-related heart attack or a heart attack that is not work-related but prohibits you from returning to work, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
SSDI, administered through the Social Security Administration, is a program that provides benefits to someone who is disabled as well as certain members of their family. To be eligible, you will have to have earned a number of “work credits” before your disabling heart attack and have paid social security taxes.
Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Tips
One of the biggest contributors to cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks, is a lack of commitment to a healthy lifestyle. According to the American Heart Association, you can reduce your chances of a heart attack by adopting these healthy lifestyle changes:
- Stop smoking: One of the best things you can do for your health is to quit smoking. Smoking is highly addictive, and we know it’s tough to kick the habit. Talk to your doctor to come up with a plan to stop smoking.
- Incorporate a healthy diet: Diet plays a major role in your overall health, including your heart health. A heart-healthy diet that includes leafy greens, berries, avocados, fatty fish like salmon and tuna, walnuts, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, beans, and other fruits and vegetables can lower your risk of heart disease.
- Lower your blood pressure: High blood pressure is a major risk factor for strokes and heart attacks. If you have high blood pressure, skip the salt at the dinner table and talk to your doctor about blood pressure medicine or a treatment plan. Remember – your optimal blood pressure should be less than 120/80 mmHg.
- Get active: Being physically active every day can help you avoid coronary heart disease. Even walking 10 minutes a day is better than nothing – start small if you need to! Before embarking on a vigorous exercise regime, talk to your doctor about ways to safely exercise.
- Reduce stress: We all have stress and react in different ways. Even happy moments like celebrations can be stressful. Stress can contribute to poor health choices and behaviors such as overeating or smoking, which can impact heart health. Find ways to reduce stress such as exercising, meditating, or talking to a therapist or mental health care provider.
- Manage diabetes: Diabetes makes your heart work harder than normal and can be a factor for heart disease. Type 2 diabetes is often attributed to obesity, lack of exercise, and genetics. Getting active and choosing heart-healthy foods can help manage your diabetes.
- Limit alcohol: Overindulging in alcohol can increase your blood pressure and lead to risk factors for heart disease. If you drink, limit your consumption to no more than two drinks per day for men, and one drink per day for women.
Lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on your cardiovascular health and can reduce your risk of a heart attack. If you are ready to commit to a heart-healthy lifestyle, talk to your doctor before you begin an exercise program.
Some people can suffer a heart attack even if they live a healthy lifestyle due to conditions on the job. If you suffered a heart attack at work, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Proving a heart attack was caused by your job is challenging – it’s best to have a workers’ comp attorney on your side.
Workers’ Compensation Law Firm in York, Pa.
At the law offices of Dale E. Anstine, our team of workers’ comp attorneys has decades of experience fighting for injured workers’ rights in York and Adams counties. Our focus is always on you, so you can focus on your health.
If you’ve suffered a heart attack at work and your working conditions contributed to your cardiac episode, filing a workers’ comp claim will be challenging. You do not have to do it alone – our team is ready to help you fight for the benefits you deserve. We offer free consultations and are available 24/7 to answer your questions. Reach out today for a no-obligation review of your workers’ compensation case.