Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions
- Board Directives and Guidelines (cardiac conditions)
- Dependency benefits (death results from an injury)
The worker suffered a heart attack in October 1988, at age 44. The Board granted entitlement on the basis that unusual physical exertion at work aggravated an underlying condition, and awarded a 30% NEL award. The worker underwent non-compensable by-pass surgery in 2002 and had a pacemaker inserted in 2009. He died in 2010, at age 66. The worker's estate appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying survivor benefits. The worker died from ischemic heart disease and cardiomyopathy. The Panel found that the heart attack in 1988 was not a factor that contributed significantly to the worker's death in 2010. Rather, it was a manifestation of a progressive disease that caused the worker's death. The underlying heart disease, in conjunction with the heavy duties in 1988, cause the worker to have a heart attack. He then remained reasonably stable for about 10 years. Board policy states that, when entitlement is granted on the basis of unusual physical exertion, the entitlement is on an aggravation basis and, when the condition has stabilized, further entitlement will not be granted for a subsequent cardiac condition unless there is a new work-related occurrence. That provision applied directly to this case. The policy also has provision regarding death. It makes clear that, if death occurs immediately or while the condition is still in the acute phase, the death is compensable. However, if death does not occur immediately, and the death occurs as a result of a new or progressive cardiac condition, the fatal claim is not accepted unless there is a new occurrence at work. There was no new occurrence at work in this case. The Panel distinguished Decision No. 1855/09, which was similar to this case in many respects, but in which the original heart attack was found to have caused the later fatal heart attack. The appeal was dismissed.