5 ways to protect hearts at work

Click the image to shop for defibrillators. On the left of this picture a man received AED treatment, on the right a school child holds up a Lifepak AED.

With Valentine’s Day on the way, there’s no better time to think about matters of the heart. But don’t worry - we’re not about to start dispensing romantic advice.

Our focus this February is on National Heart Month, a campaign to get everyone making small changes towards a healthier lifestyle.

Lifestyle - the way we live our lives and the choices we make - has a huge impact on the health of our hearts. Smoking, drinking, lack of exercise, bad diet and prolonged sitting can all increase the risk of developing coronary heart disease.

What is coronary heart disease (CHD)?

Coronary heart disease is when the arteries supplying oxygen-rich blood to your heart become clogged up by fatty deposits. The arteries can become so narrow that your heart can’t get enough oxygen, causing pain and discomfort known as angina.

When a lump of fatty deposit breaks off from the artery, it can block the way and completely starve the heart of oxygen. This is called a heart attack. Because this disrupts the heart’s rhythm, a heart attack can lead to sudden cardiac arrest, which is when the heart stops pumping blood around the body.

The survival rate of someone having a cardiac arrest is estimated at just 20%.

How many of us does CHD kill?

  • 73,000 people die from CHD in the UK every year.
  • That’s 200 people a day.
  • 1 in 6 men and 1 in 10 women will die from CHD.
  • More than a quarter of those who die from CHD are under 75.
  • This makes CHD the UK’s biggest killer.

Coronary heart disease can’t be cured - but it can be prevented.

We believe that, with so many of us employed in computer-based jobs, prevention starts in the workplace. Employers have a duty of care to keep their staff as safe and healthy as possible.

We’ve put together 5 simple changes that can be made to boost the heart health of your employees (and yourself) right now.

Stand Up More

‘Sitting is the new smoking’. You’ve probably heard this phrase before (especially if you read our blogs), but there is increasing evidence to suggest this is true: our sedentary lives are killing us.

On average, Brits spend 8.9 hours of their waking day sitting. A significant study of 800,000 people recently found that, compared to those who moved the most, sedentary people had a:

  • 112% increase in risk of diabetes
  • 147% increase in cardiovascular events
  • 90% increase in death caused by cardiovascular events
  • 49% increase in death from any cause.

Now we know we’re biased, but we really do believe sit-stand desks should be the future of office working. Keeping workers shackled to their chairs all day is not conducive to a healthy working environment. Being able to swap from sitting to standing throughout the day keeps your body moving, keeps you alert, makes you feel more confident and helps prevent the risks associated with prolonged sitting - including coronary heart disease.

View our collection of sit-stand desks here.

Move More

As well as moving between sitting and standing positions, it helps to move around in the office. Simple things like getting up to speak to a colleague instead of emailing, and going to toilets that are further away from your desk can help you add mileage. Every step counts when it comes to heart health. You can also learn a selection of desk-based exercises to keep your muscles working.

Raise Money for Hearts

There are a number of charities supporting life-saving heart research in the UK. The British Heart Foundation (BHF) holds national fundraising events every year that workplaces can get involved with to raise a bit of money and have some fun. Our offices in East Sussex and County Durham took part in Wear It Beat it earlier this month, for which we all dressed up in red and raised £174 for BHF. There are many other creative ways to raise money, including:

  • fancy dress days
  • charity runs
  • talent contests
  • charity bike rides
  • cakes sales.

Eat Right

Every day the food you choose to eat affects how your body works. Eating too much of the wrong food (foods high in saturated fat and sugars) can lead to high cholesterol and high blood pressure, both of which are known to cause coronary heart disease.

It’s easy to overeat when you’re a desk worker. After all, you’re doing very little activity during the day to burn anything you do consume. Many of us also reach for sugary and fatty snacks for those much-needed brain boosts during the day. Here are some quick ideas for eating right at work:

  • Start with a healthy breakfast. Choose something that will release sugars slowly throughout the morning, like porridge oats or a banana. Protein-rich foods like eggs and greek yoghurt will fill you up and fuel your muscles for the day ahead.
  • Opt for a handful of dried fruit and nuts when you get a craving for something sweet.
  • Keep your lunch healthy and light - like a rice salad with salmon, or a tuna and whole-grain bread sandwich (use yoghurt in place of mayo).
  • Make use of that office water cooler. Often thirst can be confused for hunger pangs.

Keep a defibrillator in the workplace

When prevention isn’t possible, the best chance of survival is access to medical attention. After suffering cardiac arrest, your chances of survival drop by 7 - 10% for every minute you do not receive CPR and defibrillation (a controlled electric shock to restore normal heart rhythm).

One small investment in a defibrillator can significantly improve the survival chances of anybody who does suffer sudden cardiac arrest at work.

Just a couple of weeks ago, we made headlines in the Northwich Guardian after supplying a LIFEPAK defibrillator to a local primary school. The whole community around the school has welcomed the arrival of the new equipment.

Our Lifepak CR Plus features the same advanced technology trusted by emergency medical professionals. In line with heart awareness month, and to encourage more employers to have a defibrillator in the workplace, we have more than halved the price of the Lifepak CR.

Shop the LIFEPAK now >>