Mary Ann Wietbrock RN MSN CNS CMC, Cardinal Elements Inc., August 2014
The American Heart Association reports 1 in 3 deaths are due to cardiovascular diseases. One American will die from cardiovascular disease every 40 seconds with 34% of these occurring before the age of 75 years of age. The cost of cardiovascular disease in the United States is estimated to be $315.4 billion annually. This cost includes services for physicians, hospital services, prescribed medications, home health services, and costly inpatient surgery and procedures.
The American with the highest risk of cardiovascular disease is the white male. Non-Modifiable risk factors include age, gender, genetics, and race.
Modifiable risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity. The current rate of adults of all races with high blood pressure exceeds 78 million with only 53% controlled to target levels. Control of these modifiable risk factors has been shown to reduce the rate of heart attacks, heart failure and strokes.
Businesses providing a wellness program include a wellness coach. Wellness programs have been identified as a method to reduce modifiable risk factors with variable results. A wellness program usually provides cholesterol and blood pressure checks along with nutritional and physical activity resources. This wellness coach may not be onsite, may not speak English as a first language, and may not be certified as a wellness coach from an accredited program. These variables lead to less than reliable results.
It is important for wellness programs to measure outcomes. If the average blood pressure of adults at the worksite before the wellness program started at 140/87, this represents higher than normal values. An annual average worksite blood pressure should be compared with past averages to identify if the wellness program is making a difference. There are not quick fixes to reducing risk factors. The short term benefits to employers are tax benefits, reduced employee sick days, and reduced use of insurance claims. The benefit to the employee may be reduced use of medications from a reduction of weight and regular physical activity.
A wellness program should provide a full individual life style assessment to include nutrition and physical activity practices. It is recommended the program provide interactive activities and identify a measured walking path for employees for use during breaks. These have been shown to reduce modifiable risk factors of employees participating in wellness activities. Healthier employees leads to healthier business. For more information contact
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