A recent incident involved a crew member in his mid-twenties repatriated due to Wolff-Parkinson White Syndrome, a relatively common disorder where an additional electrical connection leads to the heart beating abnormally fast, in an abnormal rhythm. This illness is present at birth (congenital), although symptoms may not develop until later in life.

Another case involved the death of a 35 year old crew member due to a suspected heart attack. The seafarer had a family and personal history of controlled hypertension (high blood pressure) and was classified as overweight but not obese.

Symptoms

Coronary artery disease, congestive heartfailure, heart attack – each type of heart problem requires different treatment but may share similar warning signs:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations (irregular heartbeats, or a ‘flip-flop’ feeling in your chest)
  • Discomfort, pressure, heaviness, aching, or pain in the chest, arm, or below the breastbone
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeats
  • Weakness or dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Swelling of ankles and abdomen
  • Cough that produces white sputum

In response, the Club shared best practice for a healthy lifestyle onboard.

Ten rules for a healthier and longer life

  1. Stop smoking
  2. Eat a balanced diet
  3. Check your body mass index (BMI) BMI = mass (kg) / height (m2) Normal 18.5 – 25kg/m2 Overweight 28 – 30 kg/m2 Obesity >30 kg/m2
  4. Reduce alcohol intake
  5. Try to sleep at least 7 hrs per night
  6. Exercise at least 20 minutes a day
  7. Learn to cope with stressful emotions
  8. Maintain a healthy blood pressure – 140/90 and above is considered hypertension (high blood pressure)
  9. Maintain good sugar control, particularly if you are diabetic
  10. If you have a medical condition, see your doctor at least once a year.