Construction Workers and Cardiovascular Disease
Approximately 211,000 construction workers (1 in 25) have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease.

All statistics in this article are courtesy of the American Heart Association (AHA). Find more heart and stroke statistics here.

The Quick Facts

  • Heart disease is the number one killer of all Americans. Stroke is number five when considered separately from other cardiovascular disease.
  • 127 million Americans are living with some form of cardiovascular disease. That’s equal to the entire population of California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania combined.
  • An average of 2,300 Americans die from cardiovascular disease every day.
  • $363 billion is spent every year on direct and indirect expenses (such as loss of productivity, caregiving, sick time, etc.) related to cardiovascular disease.
  • The toll taken by cardiac arrest:
    • Nearly 400,000 people die from cardiac arrest every year in the U.S.
    • Most cardiac arrests occur outside of a hospital. About 1 in 5 occur in public – such as at work, a job site, or a public location. Bystander CPR can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival.

Hard Hats with Heart

Data shows that the construction industry has higher risks, elevated in almost every single category, to heart disease and stroke – and the large majority of these issues are preventable.

The American Heart Association (AHA) came to the Seattle office last year to bring to light these alarming trends and statistics about heart health in our industry and offer us an opportunity to do something about it. Mortenson is now a proud local sponsor of Hard Hats with Heart. This collaboration is an investment in our people that we hope will ripple across our entire construction community here locally.

The first step in preempting a preventable disease is having awareness of it. Launched in 2021, our Seattle internal committee is focused on bringing the AHA’s heart-healthy educational resources and tools to our office and project sites to help our team build healthier lifestyles. Topics include eating a healthy diet, living an active lifestyle, and blood pressure monitoring help our team make small, simple lifestyle changes every day to enjoy longer, healthier lives.

In Seattle, Mortenson now includes blood pressure education and Hands-Only CPR heart health training as a part of Craft worker onboarding. The Everett Community College Learning Resource Center project team launched the Hard Hats with Heart initiative on project sites with their blood pressure monitoring and heart education station that trade partners on site participated in as well. This program is rolling out to all our project sites in 2022.


Some of our team members have a personal connection with this initiative and hope to help spark immediate action among their team. Bob Jones, labor foreman at Mortenson, is unfortunately all too familiar with how family history of heart disease can affect a person’s life. After losing his grandparents, both of his parents, and his brother when he was 49 to heart attacks, Bob decided that it was time to talk to his doctor about taking preventative measures. Because of his own journey, he urges his team members to start forming better habits by packing healthy lunches, staying active, managing the stress of the job, and getting regular checkups at the doctor because, “we all want to take care of our families and make sure they’re being taken care of, but if we don’t take care of ourselves, we’re no good to our families.”

What can you do?

Whether you are in the construction industry or not, knowing and monitoring your risk factors and taking steps every day towards a healthier lifestyle are the best way to prevent heart disease and stroke. Below is guidance from the AHA on how to do so.

Know your risk factors

  • Control Cholesterol
  • Manage blood pressure
  • Reduce blood sugar
  • Stop smoking and vaping
  • Lose weight
  • Family medical history of heart disease

Active Lifestyle – Build healthy habits

  • Healthy eating
  • Fitness
  • Managing stress
  • Getting good sleep
  • Practicing mindfulness
  • Connecting socially 

For more tips and tricks to keep your mind and body fit, visit the American Heart Association website.