Document name
Heart Attack
Document number
POL 05/2013

Effective date: December 1, 2013

Approved date: September 29, 2013

Application: All heart attack claims on or after the effective date.

Policy subject: Decision making - Injuries

Purpose:

To establish adjudication guidelines for heart attack claims.

DEFINITION

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Unusual physical exertion or strain means the exertion or strain is unusual when compared to:

    1. An individual’s normal work duties, and
    2. Their active lifestyle outside of work.

Acute means a specific, dramatic and sudden incident.

Emergency response means those circumstances where firefighters attend a crisis situation as part of their duties. Examples include a fire or car crash.

Pre-existing condition means a non-work-related medical condition that existed prior to the work-related injury.

BACKGROUND

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Under Section 20 of The Workers’ Compensation Act, 2013 (the “Act”), the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) will determine:

    1. Whether a condition or death was a result of an injury, and
    2. Whether an injury has arisen out of or in the course of employment.

POLICY

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  1. Heart attack claims are work injuries when one of the following has occurred:
    1. The worker performed unusual physical exertions or strains within a few hours of the onset of heart attack symptoms. For example, an office worker who spends most of their time at a desk is required to move heavy office furniture.
    2. The worker experienced an acute emotional shock within a few hours of the onset of heart attack symptoms (POL 02/2017, Injuries – Psychological).
    3. The worker received an injury as a result of occupational hazards that placed unusual stress on the heart. For example:
      1. An electric shock.
      2. Chest injury, or
      3. The inhalation of harmful gases such as carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide or methane.
    4. The worker had heart problems during medical treatment for a work injury. For example, reaction to anesthetic.
  2. Heart attack claims will typically require detailed file development. This will involve obtaining:
    1. All relevant medical information. This includes records of prior heart problems, and
    2. Details of the circumstances leading up to the initial onset of symptoms and the diagnosis of a heart attack.
  3. In certain instances a worker may not recognize the initial symptoms as an indicator of heart problems. This can cause a delay in the diagnosis. Coverage may be provided if:
    1. The diagnosis occurred within 24 hours of an unusual physical exertion or acute emotional shock, and
    2. The worker experienced symptoms within a few hours of the work event.

Firefighters

  1. When a firefighter has a heart attack within 24 hours of attending an emergency response, the WCB will determine the claim under POL 03/2020, Injuries – Firefighters.

Pre-Existing Conditions

  1. Factors such as pre-existing conditions and lifestyle may contribute to heart disease. As a result, each heart attack claim will be considered on its own merits. Review by a WCB Medical Consultant may be required (POL 12/2017, Pre-Existing Conditions – Aggravation or Acceleration).

Fatalities

  1. When a worker is found dead at a worksite, the WCB will determine the claim under POL 04/2014, Fatalities, Presumption.

Policy references

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Section heading

Legislative Authority

Section detail

The Workers’ Compensation Act, 2013
Sections 20, 23, 28, 29
The Workers’ Compensation General Regulations, 1985
Sections 22.3

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Document History

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(1)    January 1, 2014. References updated in accordance with The Workers’ Compensation Act, 2013.
(2)    POL and PRO 12/2007, Injuries – Cardiac (effective March 1, 2006 to November 30, 2013)
(3)    POL and PRO 04/2004, Injuries – Cardiac (effective August 1, 2004 to February 28, 2006).
(4)    POL 31/72, Injuries – Cardiac (effective April 19, 1972 to July 31, 2004).
 

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Complements

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