Question: What are you wearing on February 5, 2016?
Answer: Red, because it's "wear red day" for heart disease awareness month.
Heart disease awareness month began in 1964, but it wasn't until 2015 that President Barack Obama called upon the nation to wear red on a certain day to show allegiance to the cause. The American Heart Association reported that heart disease accounts for 17.3 million deaths per year, and the number could rise to 23.6 million a year by 2030.
"By wearing red, we help raise awareness of cardiovascular disease and provide an important reminder that it is never too early to take action to protect our health," Obama wrote. "This month, let us reaffirm our resolve to fight this epidemic and continue our work to build a brighter future for our families."
Automated external defibrillators can make the difference if a heart attack or stroke occurs at the office. In fact, most cardiac deaths occur outside of a hospital. Unfortunately, though, just under 5 percent of those cases are successfully resuscitated and discharged from the hospital in good condition, according to OSHA. This means people are counting on you to be aware of your surroundings and help when needed.
"Most cardiac attacks occur outside of the hospital."
If your workplace doesn't have a cardiac emergency procedure in place, start preparing one. There won't be any practice runs when the life of someone else is in your hands. Knowing how to check for pulse and resuscitate someone is something that may require a few hours on a Saturday to learn, but can literally mean the difference between life and death.
When a cardiac arrest is happening, it can be hectic for first responders. Place safety signs around the workplace that clearly signal where an AED is so people don't have to go looking for it. If someone is trying to resuscitate a person, make sure someone else is calling 9-1-1 for an ambulance.
A set routine can help employees overcome the shock of a cardiac arrest and save a life if it occurs in the workplace.
In lieu of the awareness month, consider making February 5 your first day to get healthy. Cardiovascular disease is responsible for 1 out of every 3 deaths, and is the leading killer for men and women every year – it is no joke, and good health should be taken serious. The AHA reported that every $1 companies invest in employees' health, they get up to $3 in return. Here are some ways to stay healthy in and out of the workplace:
- Exercise as much as possible, but at least get 30 minutes a day. This can be as simple as walking.
- Don't sentence employees to a snack food prison. Encourage them to eat healthy by providing fruit and other healthy alternatives at the workplace.
- Quit smoking. If it takes a ton of safety signs to be posted around the office to remind employees, spend the money.
Don't forget to wear red to support heart disease awareness month in February. Be aware of the issue, both inside and outside the workplace, so that we can start getting rid of the problem.