Stroke education in the workplace is important, as nearly one-third of all strokes happen to individuals under the age of 65, according to the National Stroke Association. An employee who experiences a stroke while at the office may not be able to return to work for months, and only after rehabilitation. In some unfortunate cases, they may be unable to ever return.
With May being Stroke Awareness Month, this serves as an excellent reminder to discuss and educate your colleagues about strokes, their causes, how to prevent them and what to do if someone has a stroke in the office.
What Is a Stroke?
According to the American Stroke Association, strokes are a disease that affects arteries within (and leading to) your brain. It occurs when blood vessels carrying nutrients and oxygen to the brain rupture or are blocked by blood clots, causing the brain to malfunction.
Strokes cause brain cells to die, and when that happens, certain parts of the body will no longer function as they once did.
How Common Are Strokes?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that an American experiences a stroke every 40 seconds, and every four minutes, someone dies from one. On average, strokes affect more than 795,000 people each year. They are currently the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. and the leading cause of disability.
If someone at your office experiences a stroke, employees should be able to recognize the signs and know to call 911 immediately. Here are some symptoms your workplace should be familiar with:
Trouble understanding speech or with speaking
Numbness or paralysis of one side of the face, leg or arm
Difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
Sudden, severe headaches with dizziness, vomiting or altered consciousness
Trouble walking and/or a loss of balance or coordination
In addition to these warning signs, an employee having a stroke might have a hard time raising both arms at the same time.
Stroke Action Steps
If a coworker is exhibiting signs of a stroke, you should call 911, even if the symptoms subside. The longer you wait, the more serious the complications may be. In general, it’s always good to play it safe when you suspect a medical emergency at work.
When medical staff arrives at your office, employees should be prepared to communicate what symptoms they saw as well as when they occurred.
While most people who suffer a stroke will not require CPR, it’s a great idea to have staff members certified just in case. Consider hosting a class in your office or covering the cost for employees to learn it on their own. Once trained, workers will be able to assist someone who’s not breathing and without a pulse—before EMTs arrive.
Several factors can increase an employee’s risk of having a stroke, including a family history of stroke or heart attack, physical inactivity, being overweight or obese as well as having high blood pressure or high cholesterol. While genetics do play a role to some extent, leading a healthy lifestyle can significantly lower one’s risk of experiencing a stroke.
Because healthy living is so crucial to stroke prevention, it’s important to make an effort to put wellness first in your workplace. Through launching wellness programs, you can be proactive in making your office a healthier environment overall.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to educate your fellow employees on specific things they can do to avoid strokes, including:
Exercising most days of the week
Maintaining a healthy weight
Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats
Avoiding heavy drinking, smoking and drug use
Through stroke education, your office has a great opportunity to inspire the workforce to embrace healthy living. Additionally, employees will be empowered to take charge should a stroke occur in the office, which could ultimately save a life.
Looking to offer wellness incentives and programs at your workplace? Learn more here.