Workers’ Compensation for Broken Heart Syndrome

Perhaps you have once had a ‘broken’ heart over a breakup, or loss of a pet. Yet, broken heart syndrome is more serious than feelings of remorse. Alternatively described as stress-induced cardiomyopathy, takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or apical ballooning syndrome, it includes symptoms of chest pressure, palpitations, and weakness, like a heart attack. It is often associated with personal emotional trauma, or catastrophic events.[1]

A surge of stress hormones, such as adrenaline, is thought to be the culprit for why these episodes occur. This sudden acute stress can rapidly weaken the heart muscle and mimic a myocardial infarction.[2] Intense physical or emotional events usually precede it, such as an asthma attack, COVID-19 infection, major surgery, or a broken bone. Anything that elicits a strong emotional response, like the death of a loved one, may be a trigger. There are certain risk factors for broken heart syndrome, including:

  • Sex: Broken heart syndrome is more common in women than men.
  • Age: Those who are older than 50 are the highest demographic for victims of BHS.
  • A previous or current mental health disorder: People with anxiety or depression may have a higher risk.[3]

If you experience an episode of broken heart syndrome because of a work-related accident, or event, you will want to contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. Our team of attorneys have represented victims of work-related crises and are familiar with the ramifications they can have on your health. Types of work-related accidents that may provoke a reaction of BHS include:

Work-Related Accidents that Can Trigger an Episode of Broken Heart Syndrome

  • Motor vehicle accident

Victims of work-related motor vehicle accidents, such as truck drivers, UPS, or Amazon delivery workers, can have inclement weather or lousy drivers to blame for their injuries. There are certain phone apps one can use that immediately detect whether you are in an accident using a built-in GPS and accelerometer. It will reach out to your emergency contacts to notify them once you give it permission. After an accident, emergency response time becomes important, especially if it occurs in a rural area.

  • Slip and fall

Slip and falls are often preventable, yet when they do occur, they can result in traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injury, broken bones, etc.

  • Fall from heights

Falling from heights is a top cause in workers’ comp claims, and many unfortunately suffer fatal injuries. Yet, for survivors, the accident comes at a shock, life-changing and disrupting, whereby an episode of broken heart syndrome can be likely.

  • Electrocution

Working around exposed cords or wires can lead to electrocution, which could result in cardiac arrest or a fall from heights.

  • Overexertion

Overexertion injuries do not have to occur cumulatively, or over a period. They may occur in a single incident, such as a nurse trying to lift a heavy patient, or a worker asked to lift furniture or heavy boxes, which may not normally be part of their job duties.

  • Struck by an object

Construction workers must deal with the possibility of getting struck with a falling object and sustaining a blunt force head injury.

  • Struck Against

Getting pushed or running into a wall can be a result of distractions.

  • Entanglement

Factory and plant workers may run the risk of entanglement during their jobs. Gears, rollers, and heavy machinery can ensnare body parts, such as a hand or foot, or in the worst case, cause fatal injuries. Loose clothing, hair, or jewelry are red flags.

  • Violence

Workplace violence can range from arguments/altercations, assault, or even terrorism. Victims of workplace violence may find it hard to move on after traumatic events, such as a lone wolf attack, especially if the suspect inflicted injury or death to others. This makes it more likely to encounter an episode of broken heart syndrome.

Cardiogenic Shock

If you experience broken heart syndrome, you may also be experiencing chest pain (angina), and shortness of breath. Victims of broken heart syndrome do not have to have a history of heart disease. Although uncommon, victims may also experience cardiogenic shock, a life-threatening condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the demands of the body. In a study, around 200 of 2,000 patients with broken heart syndrome developed cardiogenic shock. Among those who did, about one quarter died. Those who survived cardiogenic shock had a 40 percent mortality rate, compared to 10 percent for those who did not experience cardiogenic shock. Those who suffered from cardiogenic shock were also more likely to have a type of an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation.[4] Even without cardiogenic shock, other complications of broken heart syndrome include blood clots within the heart and pulmonary edema (backup of fluid into the lungs).[5]

Experiencing Heart Attack-Related Symptoms After an Injury? Our Firm Can Help You.

If you are a victim of broken heart syndrome, you will want to seek counsel in a broken heart syndrome lawyer. Depending on certain risk factors, such as your age, gender, or whether you smoke, you may be at a higher risk of cardiogenic shock. Other risk factors include whether one has diabetes, or whether the event that triggered your episode was physical stress related.

Our cardiomyopathy lawyers are sensitive to your condition, and aware that the circumstances surrounding your injury have an impact on you and your family. After a work-related injury, it is important to notify your supervisor or manager as soon as possible. Provided that you have not yet, you will also want to seek immediate medical attention after your injury, and additional medical treatment if you think you are suffering from broken heart syndrome.

If you think you may be at risk of broken heart syndrome due to an accident or hardship, or you are experiencing symptoms of BHS, you will want to take care of yourself. This means avoiding overexertion and making sure to seek advice in a medical professional.

Those who suffer occupational injury deserve workers’ compensation benefits that will help insulate them from the financial burdens of not being able to work, or work in a reduced capacity. All New Jersey employers, if not covered by federal programs, are required to carry workers’ compensation coverage, or have self-insurance.[6] Any additional injuries that you sustain after your initial workplace accident or crisis may be compensable if they are related. To speak with an attorney, call us today at (973)-943-4961.

 

[1] Clarridge, C. (2022, February 14). ‘Broken heart syndrome’ can be dangerous, sometimes fatal. The Seattle Times. Retrieved February 14, 2022, from https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/broken-heart-syndrome-can-be-dangerous-sometimes-fatal/

[2] Wittstein, I. S. (n.d.). Broken heart Syndrome. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved February 14, 2022, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/broken-heart-syndrome

[3] Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, November 24). Broken heart syndrome. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved February 14, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/broken-heart-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20354617

[4] Rettner, R. (2018, November 5). ‘Broken-Heart’ Syndrome is Real. This Complication Makes it Deadly. LiveScience. Retrieved February 14, 2022, from https://www.livescience.com/64009-broken-heart-syndrome-cardiogenic-shock.html

[5] Wittstein, I. S. (n.d.). Broken heart Syndrome. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved February 14, 2022, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/broken-heart-syndrome

[6] Skosnik. (n.d.). Department of Labor and Workforce Development: Insurance Requirements. State of New Jersey: Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Retrieved February 14, 2022, from https://www.nj.gov/labor/wc/employer/require/insure_index.html#:~:text=New%20Jersey%20law%20requires%20that,be%20approved%20for%20self%2Dinsurance.

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