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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 list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. Instead, the ADA has a general definition of disability that each person must meet. A person has a disability if he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having 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:
- What limitations is the employee experiencing?
- How do these limitations affect the employee and the employee’s job performance?
- What specific job tasks are problematic as a result of these limitations?
- What accommodations are available to reduce or eliminate these problems? Are all possible resources being used to determine possible accommodations?
- Has the employee been consulted regarding possible accommodations?
- 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?
- Do supervisory personnel and employees need training?
Situations and Solutions:
A locomotive operator with myocardial infarction experienced reduction in stamina exacerbated by working midnight shifts.
The employer required that he work only day and afternoon shifts to accommodate his restrictions.
A maintenance technician with a heart condition was restricted from working in extreme temperatures.
He was accommodated with a modified schedule not requiring him to work outside in these conditions.
A federal contract employee working temporarily at a federal agency’s facility had difficulty walking long distances due to a heart condition.
He notified his employer, who then contacted the federal agency to request a reserved parking space for the employee close to the building. The federal agency had the parking manager designate a parking space next to the entrance used by the employee.
A customer service rep with Marfan syndrome which resulted in heart issues.
The employee needed to attend periodic medical appointments, but the appointments were scheduled during their shift at work. The employee requested leave and a flexible schedule as reasonable accommodations, which the employer approved on a temporary basis.
An assembly line worker with congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease was restricted to sedentary work and no lifting in excess of 15 pounds.
The assembly line job, which could not be modified, required both standing and lifting over 15 pounds. The individual was accommodated with a transfer to a sedentary job.
An individual, who delivered mail in a high-rise office building had high blood pressure and was limited to no lifting and pushing over 25 pounds.
The employer provided the individual with a power cart and compact lifting devices to assist with moving materials.
A supervisor with heart disease was limited in the level of physical activity he could exert.
The individual was relieved of marginal functions involving manual labor.
A receiving clerk with a congenital heart defect was limited in her ability to perform strenuous activity.
She was accommodated by having merchandise placed in smaller boxes and being provided a height adjustable material lift to help retrieve elevated boxes. The employer also gave her a reserved parking space closer to the building and allowed another employee to fill out her time card, minimizing walking and stair climbing.
JAN Publications & Articles Regarding Heart Condition
Accommodation and Compliance Series
Consultants' Corner Articles
- Accommodations for Housekeeping/Janitorial Workers with Motor Impairments
- Accommodations Related to Commuting To and From Work
- Best Practices for Addressing Requests for Ergonomic Chairs
- Confidentiality of Medical Information under the ADA
- Hidden Disabilities: Confidentiality and Travel
- Service Animals and Allergies in the Workplace