Stroke (CDC) remains to be one of the leading causes of death in the Philippines and is a major cause of serious disability for adults.
It is sometimes called a brain attack which occurs when something blocks the blood supply to part of the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts.
If something happens to block the flow of blood, brain cells start to die within minutes because they can’t get oxygen. That is why, when someone is suffering a stroke, time is important because in every minute during a stroke, millions of brain cells die – increasing the risk of permanent brain damage, disability, or even death.
Stroke in the Workplace
At work, there is an increased risk of stroke when the environment is stressful. High blood pressure is one of the most important risk factors in strokes and many employees may not be aware of it.
Every health and safety professionals emphasize the availability of the emergency guidelines and first aid trainings; and that everyone in the office must be aware of it and can respond to any emergent situation such as stroke. It has to be discussed during orientations, OSH meetings and safety training.
Responding to a Stroke
When an employee suffers a stroke inside the office or in the production, anyone– co-workers, medical team, security team and HR team must be able to recognize the signs that occur when there is stroke and that he/she must respond immediately.
- Identifying the signs – F.A.S.T
F-ace drooping. Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A-rm weakness. Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downwards?
S-peech difficulty. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
T-ime to call an ambulance if you observe the said signs. 🚑
- Things to avoid:
- Do not let the employee sleep.
- Avoid giving them medication, food or drink.
- Do not drive yourself or your co-worker to hospital. It is recommended to take an ambulance so that the employee with stroke will be taken to the nearest and most prepared hospital and emergency responders can start life-saving treatment inside the ambulance. Remember, every minute counts!⏳
Preventing Stroke at work
We need to take note that stroke is preventable. Controlling its risk factor such as high blood pressure through health promotion and disease prevention programs at work are critical to reducing stroke risks:
- Engage employees in health and wellness activities at work to keep track of the employee’s health. Many companies, nowadays, are putting efforts to create a more health and wellness—friendly workplace for their employees by conducting health and wellness caravans, health screenings in order to promote health.
- Promote Stress management. When employees can learn to manage their stress, it decreases the likelihood of high blood pressure; hence, preventing stroke. Developing healthy habits such as getting enough sleep, exercise help an employee lessen his/her stress at work.
- Promote healthier diet by ditching fast and processed food. Eating foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat and sodium, can help prevent high cholesterol and blood pressure. There are companies that provide daily fruits in their pantry for their employees, while others monitor the food servings in their cafeteria to check if their meals contain too much oil and salt.
- Promote active lifestyle to employees. Regular physical activity does not just maintain a good body weight but it also reduces high blood pressure and reducing the risk of stroke. Some companies give fitness membership to their employees to encourage regular exercise and keeping themselves fit and healthy.
Returning to work after stroke
With the right support and management, yes, many employees successfully return to work after a stroke. Here’s what employers can do when an employee returns to work after stroke.
- Stay in touch with the employee and plan for their return.
- Discuss the case with your clinic team to make sure that your doctors and nurses can also monitor the health needs of the employee.
- Be aware of the effects of stroke while adjusting the work plan for the employee.
- Stroke survivors may experience communication problems which include difficulties with speaking and understanding what they are saying. Give them more time when they speak.
- They may develop cognitive problems with concentration and short-term memory. Written instructions that are clear and concise may be helpful for them.
- They may experience anxiety and frustration which can be managed by counselling and emotional support.
- They may experience fatigue, weakness or loss of movement in an arm, leg or down one whole side of the body. Their vision, balance and coordination may also be affected. Employers can help them by adjusting the employee’s working space like providing a more supportive chair that may prevent them from falling.
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