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Heart Condition

Accommodation and Compliance: Heart Condition

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About Heart Condition

The term “heart condition” includes conditions such as high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, and congenital cardiovascular impairments. Each type of heart condition has its own symptoms, which may include angina (chest pain sometimes radiating down the left arm or into the jaw); sensations of fluttering, thumping, pounding, or racing of the heart (palpitations); edema (swelling and fluid retention in the legs, ankles, abdomen, lungs, or heart); lightheadedness, weakness, dizziness, or fainting spells; breathlessness; chronic fatigue; and gastric upset (or nausea).

Heart Condition and the Americans with Disabilities Act

The ADA does not contain a definitive list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. Instead, the ADA defines a person with a disability as someone who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more "major life activities," (2) has a record of such an impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment. For more information about how to determine whether a person has a disability under the ADA, see How to Determine Whether a Person Has a Disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA).

Accommodating Employees with Heart Condition

People with heart conditions may develop some of the limitations discussed below, but seldom develop all of them. Also, the degree of limitation will vary among individuals. Be aware that not all people with heart conditions will need accommodations to perform their jobs and many others may only need a few accommodations. The following is only a sample of the possibilities available. Numerous other accommodation solutions may exist.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What limitations is the employee experiencing?
  2. How do these limitations affect the employee and the employee’s job performance?
  3. What specific job tasks are problematic as a result of these limitations?
  4. What accommodations are available to reduce or eliminate these problems? Are all possible resources being used to determine possible accommodations?
  5. Once accommodations are in place, would it be useful to meet with the employee to evaluate the effectiveness of the accommodations and to determine whether additional accommodations are needed?
  6. Do supervisory personnel and employees need training?

Key Accommodations

Decreased Stamina/Fatigue: Individuals with heart conditions can become fatigued to the extent they can’t work a full shift or perform the physical aspects of their jobs.

  • Allow work from home
  • Allow flexible scheduling and flexible leave
  • Implement ergonomic considerations
  • Eliminate physical exertion
  • Permit a service animal for mobility assistance

Dizziness: Individuals with heart conditions may experience dizziness or lightheadedness when standing up quickly, standing in place for prolonged periods, or from prolonged walking.

  • Provide chairs with armrests and locking casters so that individuals can steady themselves when standing up without worry that the chair will move
  • Provide stools or chairs to allow for alternating between standing and sitting
  • Allow additional rest breaks or modify when tasks are done to break up periods of prolonged walking

Gross Motor: Individuals with heart conditions may experience short- or long-term gross motor limitations.

  • Implement ergonomic considerations
  • Provide equipment, e.g., lifting devices, carts, stand/lean stools
  • Permit the use of mobility aids and/or service animal

Fine Motor: Individuals with heart conditions may have fine motor limitations stemming from conditions such as a stroke.

  • Provide speech recognition software and/or alternative mice
  • Provide ergonomic tools and/or tool balancers
  • Provide grip aids and/or reachers

Effect of/ Receive Medical Treatment: Individuals with heart conditions may need time to attend medical appointments or recover from medical treatment or procedures.

  • Allow the employee to work from home
  • Allow flexible scheduling and flexible leave

Accommodation Ideas:

Situations and Solutions:

The following situations and solutions are real-life examples of accommodations that were made by JAN customers. Because accommodations are made on a case-by-case basis, these examples may not be effective for every workplace but give you an idea about the types of accommodations that are possible.

Events Regarding Heart Condition