‘Hard hats’ learn importance of heart health

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The message of the importance of heart health has arrived at construction sites. On Thursday, the American Heart Association is hosting its annual event, Hard Hats with Heart, in Seattle.

Americans are at high risk for cardiovascular diseases, and construction workers have high rates of some of the contributing factors, such as nearly half not getting enough exercise.

Mark Howell, senior vice president of Skanska U.S.A. Building and chairman of Puget Sound Hard Hats with Heart, said the American Heart Association hosts “Toolbox Talks” at job sites to raise awareness about heart health.

“We’ve had several workers find out they’re diabetic and they didn’t even know it, and the only way they found out was by going into the blood pressure challenge and ended up deciding to make a doctor’s appointment and discovered they had diabetes,” he said. “So, just bring that awareness into the industry so people can take care of underlying issues to improve their heart health.”

Hard Hats with Heart takes place at The Shop in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood on Thursday.

Howell added the event highlights cardiovascular risks specific to the industry and ensures people on job sites understand how to be prepared in case of an emergency, such as having hands-only CPR training.

“It’s an evening where we celebrate the progress we’ve made, the number of lives that we’ve impacted with the message about proper heart health, and it’s also an opportunity to hear from some construction workers who have personally been impacted by cardiovascular disease and have been able to maybe make some corrections in their lives as a result of that awareness,” he explained.

More than 340,000 construction workers have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association.

Featured photo About 1 in 25 construction workers has been diagnosed with diabetes, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. (Suriyo/Adobe Stock)

Eric Tegethoff

Eric Tegethoff is a journalist covering the Northwest. Eric has worked as a reporter for KBOO, XRAY FM, and Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland, Oregon, as well as other print and digital news media. In 2012, Eric traveled to North Dakota to write about the Bakken region oil boom. He's also worked at a movie theater, as a campaign canvasser and quality assurance at a milk packaging factory. Eric is originally from Orlando, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida in 2010.

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