Assistant Editor, Safety & Health Practitioner

September 30, 2019

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Heart disease prevention

Heart attacks are just as prevalent for women as they are for men

There is a misconception that heart disease is more common in men than it is in women, says British Heart Foundation.

British heart foundationThis misconception can be life threatening, as symptoms can be overlooked and delaying treatment could lead to death. Research by the British Heart Foundation found that between 2002 and 2013, there were 8,000 women that died in England and Wales, because their heart condition was not flagged as critical as it should have been.

A British Heart Foundation report said: “Worldwide, coronary heart disease is the single biggest killer of women.

“We need to raise awareness of heart attack among women, the longer treatment for a heart attack is delayed, the greater the chance of permanent damage to the heart.”

Consultant Cardiologist and Associate Medical Director for the British Health Foundation, Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan commented: “Heart attacks have never been more treatable. Yet women are dying needlessly because heart attacks are often seen as a man’s disease, and women don’t receive the same standard of treatment as men.

“As a starting point, we want to empower women to better understand their risk and to know the many symptoms of a heart attack. When someone has a heart attack – every second counts. The sooner people recognise their symptoms and call 999, the better their chance of recovery,” Dr Sonya added.

Symptoms of heart attack

Symptoms can be overlooked, with the belief that they could be something other than a potential heart attack, however employees should act fast by seeking medical advice or help if they experience these symptoms:

  • Sudden central chest pain or discomfort in the chest that doesn’t go away which can feel like pressure, tightness or squeezing; Specsavers
  • Pain/numbness down left, or both arms, or to the neck, jaw, back and stomach;
  • Nausea, sweaty, light-headed or have short of breath.

Monitoring your heartrate in the workplace, to spot atrial fibrillation (AFib) which is an abnormal heart rhythm, has been made easier with smart technology and gadgets such as Apple Watch series 5.

Other ways employers can decrease risks of heart attacks or heart diseases is by introducing eye care for employees, as an eye test can aid in the detection of symptoms related to the risks of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

During an eye examination, the optometrist is able to view the tiny blood vessels at the back of the eye. If these are narrowed or leaking it may be a sign of high blood pressure, which can indicate an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. High blood pressure is often symptom-less but, once detected, it can usually be easily treated with simple lifestyle changes and medication. This examination can be taken in the workplace, efficiently and beneficially for both women and men employees.

Specsavers Corporate Eyecare also support tackling heart attacks in the workplace through eye examination.

Director of Strategic Alliances at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, Jim Lythgow, said that: “A routine eye test, included as a standard part of DSE eye care or most driver or PPE eye care offerings, can reveal signs of high blood pressure and risk of stroke and heart disease. By implementing an eye care policy for all, as part of an overall wellbeing policy, employers can help to keep their workforce healthy.’

Sleep and Fatigue: Director’s Briefing

Fatigue is common amongst the population, but particularly among those working abnormal hours, and can arise from excessive working time or poorly designed shift patterns. It is also related to workload, in that workers are more easily fatigued if their work is machine-paced, complex or monotonous.

This free director’s briefing contains:

  • Key points;
  • Recommendations for employers;
  • Case law;
  • Legal duties.
Barbour EHS

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Diane Thomason
Diane Thomason

This is not a good viewpoint: blaming women’s lack of awareness or saying they should “act quicker”. The much greater problems are that women’s symptoms are more likely to be dismissed as anxiety or panic attacks; the stated initial “warning signs” for heart attacks are usually the classic symptoms seen in male patients; and non-sex-specific criteria are still used for test results. A woman I knew had a heart attack and her symptoms were diagnosed at the time as indigestion. Another was also diagnosed with indigestion; she took some over-the-counter indigestion medicine and died in the night from a heart… Read more »