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Does the Jones Act apply to heart disease?

Maritime work is a hazardous occupation, particularly if you are working at sea. Along with accidents and other safety concerns, seafarers are at risk of developing serious health problems due to the type of work they do, including carrying cargo and handling dangerous materials. Long working hours, stress, and endemic or epidemic diseases can also put them at risk, even if they pass a medical test with flying colors before getting underway.

Marine Insight notes that cardiovascular disease is common among those who work at sea, as it is with many communities throughout the U.S. Like those who work on land, bad genes, age and smoking can play a role in seamen who develop this disease. However, certain conditions on board a ship, such as stress, limited diet options and lack of exercise, can play a role as well. When crew size is minimal, everyone may have more work to do and less time to do it, which can contribute to stress levels. Many ships also lack fitness equipment, as well as recreational opportunities that can help lower stress levels.

Seafarers typically have high stress levels, which is a major factor in the development of cardiovascular disease. Many ships carry medication, such as adrenaline or atropine, which can be effective treatments for chest pains and heart rhythm disorders. However, if a seaman has a serious heart attack or stroke that requires immediate medical attention, getting the patient to shore can pose a problem; sometimes it may not be possible, which leaves patients at great risk.

Diseases that develop over time, like cardiovascular disease, may be covered under the Jones Act, which applies to maintaining a safe work environment even after work is over. If you believe you developed heart disease due in part to onboard hazards, have your case reviewed by an attorney who is skilled in maritime law.

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