Employee cardiovascular disease has a direct effect on employers. Employees with cardiovascular diseases lost 56 hours more per year in productivity and on average lost 13 workdays per year per employee. 99% of the United States’ adult population has at least one of seven cardiovascular health risks. The American Heart Association defined ideal cardiovascular health based on seven risk factors that they call Life’s Simple 7. People with at least five ideal Life’s Simple 7 metrics had a 78% reduced risk for heart-related deaths compared to people who had no ideal metrics.
- Manage Blood Pressure
- Reduce Blood Glucose
- Control Cholesterol
- Lose Weight
- Tobacco Cessation
- Get Active
- Improved Diet
The good news is that cardiovascular diseases can be prevented or reduced by simple lifestyle changes. February is American Heart Month and is a perfect time to spread awareness in the workplace and institute steps that could lower risk factors for heart disease.
Provide opportunities for physical activity
It is easier for employees to get moving if they have options nearby. Environmental supports like on-site bike racks, walking trails, and maps of measured walking/jogging routes or nearby gyms all provide increased opportunities for employees.
Offer employees paid time to be physically active
Encouraging employees to get up and moving during the day not only helps their heart health but it can also help them refocus during the day. Fitness breaks and walking meetings are just two ways to get more steps in during the day.
Give employees resources to reduce stress
High levels of stress can increase the risk of high blood pressure. Workplace classes or online subscriptions for mediation and yoga classes may provide employees stress relief that they may not typically seek out on their own. Counseling programs or mental health apps can also help team members discover healthy outlets to manage both work and personal stress.
Opt for healthy workplace snacks
Research has shown that diet is an important component of heart health. Aim to make more than 50% of food and beverage options healthy food options. Try to pick snacks that have reduced salt, sugar, and saturated fats which can contribute to heart disease.
Make annual physicals simple
Annual physicals can be a useful tool to detecting warning signs of chronic heart conditions that can contribute to workplace injuries, accidents and potential worker’s compensation claims. If caught early, many cardiovascular issues can be alleviated or prevented through lifestyle changes like the ones above. Adding physicals and screenings are an enhancement to your existing occupational health and wellness programs and can track changes to employee health over time when done regularly.
American Heart Month is the perfect time take a pulse on your company’s heart health, but programs should be a yearlong commitment.
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American Heart Association. (n.d.). Life's simple 7. www.heart.org. Retrieved February 16, 2022, from https://www.heart.org/en/professional/workplace-health/lifes-simple-7
Fonarow, G. C., Calitz, C., Arena, R., Baase, C., Isaac, F. W., Lloyd-Jones, D., Peterson, E. D., Pronk, N., Sanchez, E., Terry, P. E., Volpp, K. G., & Antman, E. M. (2015). Workplace Wellness Recognition for Optimizing Workplace Health. Circulation, 131(20). https://doi.org/10.1161/cir.0000000000000206
Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention: Workplace Health in the United States. cdc.gov. (n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/initiatives/resource-center/pdf/WHRC-Strategies-to-Prevent-Heart-Attack-Stroke-in-Workplace-508.pdf
Song, X., Quek, R. G. W., Gandra, S. R., Cappell, K. A., Fowler, R., & Cong, Z. (2015). Productivity loss and indirect costs associated with cardiovascular events and related clinical procedures. BMC Health Services Research, 15(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-015-0925-x