“As serious as a heart attack” – there’s a reason why we use this phrase to communicate urgency.
According to the Heart Foundation, more than 350,000 Australians have had a heart attack at some point in their life. With such high statistics, a workplace must be equipped with responsive employees who know what to do if one of their colleagues has a heart attack at work.
How can you spot if someone is having a heart attack at work?
Often, symptoms start 10 minutes before a heart attack actually happens. A workplace equipped with supplies and someone who has comprehensive training can define a life-and-death situation. It is crucial to educate your employees about the warning signs of a potential heart attack.
So what does a heart attack look like? Symptoms can vary from person to person, and they might not be sudden or severe, but common ones include:
- dizziness and lightheadedness;
- cold sweats;
- shortness of breath despite the lack of any strenuous activity;
- a heavy feeling in the chest, jaw or arm; and
- vomiting and nausea.
What do you do when your colleague is having a heart attack?
Heart attacks progress fast, which is why time is of the essence. Once all symptoms have been identified, here are some first aid steps an initial responder can do during the onset of a heart attack.
- Call for a medical responder ASAP. It is crucial to get medical responders onsite as quickly as you can. Colleagues are discouraged from transporting the patient to a vehicle or any medical facility themselves, as any physical activity can cause a premature cardiac arrest.
- Stop all physical activity and ask the patient to lie on their back in a well-ventilated area. Discourage people from flocking around the person. This can make it difficult for the medical team to get to them.
- Ask the patient to take their medication and aspirin. A heart attack patient must have their prescribed medications with them at all times. Once they are in a resting position, ask them to take their medication. If the patient’s condition does not make any positive changes, ask them to take a tablet of aspirin. Aspirin causes the blood to thin out, helps to prevent blood clots from occurring and aids in circulation.
- Do not leave the patient unattended. A heart attack can take a turn for the worse in minutes. Make sure that there is someone attending and monitoring the person at all times. Prepare to perform CPR if necessary.
Do you know how to perform CPR? Here’s a downloadable first aid visual guide on how to perform CPR and use a defibrillator that you can post in your workplace.
What can you do to prevent a heart attack at work?
The best defence is a good offence. Here are some suggestions to help you create and maintain a healthy workplace:
- Turn your pantry into a salad bar. The cafeteria should offer fresh fruits and heart-smart dishes that will benefit employees in the long run.
- Encourage your employees to take part in healthy activities such as sporting events and workouts. Make exercising an easy lifestyle choice for workers by making it a rewarding experience.
- Remind everyone without having to remind them. Place eye-catching and informative posters in places where they usually eat to help them choose healthier options.
A heart attack at work cannot be ignored. It is important that you and your workplace are prepared for this type of emergency.
Note: The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for first aid and OHS training.