Workplace Wellness Programs Can Help
Reduce Risk Factors For Cardiovascular Disease
disease (CVD) and stroke are the leading causes of death in the United
States. The estimated expense associated with all heart disease
combined is $304.6 billion, with $24 and $98 billion due to lost
productivity from cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, respectively,
according to the American Heart Association (AHA) policy strategy on
worksite wellness programs for CVD prevention.
burden associated with stroke in 2009 was estimated at $68.9 billion in
direct and indirect costs for diagnosis and treatment. The estimated
lifetime cost for hospital stays, rehabilitation, and follow-up care to
treat lasting neurological deficits is $140,048 (in 1999 dollars).
million Americans in the workplace, wellness programs play an important
role in preventing the major risk factors for CVD and stroke, said the
AHA statement. "An estimated 25 percent to 30 percent of
companies’ annual medical costs are spent on employees with
factors such as cigarette smoking, obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia,
physical inactivity, and diabetes. Worksite wellness programs that
reduce these risk factors can ultimately impact the physical and
economic burden of chronic diseases, including CVD and stroke."
People 2010 goal is for 75 percent of all worksites, regardless of
size, to develop comprehensive wellness programming. Towards that goal,
the AHA said it supports incremental efforts to achieve comprehensive
worksite wellness programs that address CVD and stroke prevention.
to the AHA, comprehensive wellness programming should include:
cessation and prevention, regular physical activity, stress
management/reduction, early detection/screening, nutrition education
and promotion weight management, disease management, CVD education that
includes cardiopulmonary resuscitation and automated external
defribrillator training, and work environment modifications to
encourage healthy behaviors and promote occupational safety and health.
into the workplace organizational structure through validated health
education interventions focusing on skill development and consistent
with employees’ readiness to make behavior changes;
that are incorporated into existing employee assistance programs; and
voluntary worksite screenings linked with medical care for follow-up on
modifiable risk factors.
risk appraisals administered in combination with structured
organizational health promotion processes so that health needs in the
workplace can be identified and employees can learn their risks and
health status. Comprehensive worksite programs must address employee
into the effectiveness of wellness programming and how to tailor
programming and policies for maximum effect.
modifications should include:
social and physical workplace environment supportive of recommended
environmental modifications that promote healthy behaviors while
minimizing physical, organizational, and occupational risk; and
that are free from hazards that jeopardize cardiovascular health and
employee safety and well-being.
strategies should include:
increased opportunity for employers to reach a majority of the employee
population and produce health benefits.
with regulations that address hazards to employee health and safety and
the provision of working conditions that are optimal for cardiovascular
health and well-being.
healthy lifestyle behavior incentives are offered in the workplace,
such as wellness credits and financial incentives, these benefits
should go directly to the employee. Financial incentive should not be
attached to healthcare premiums or health status.
population strategies should include:
programs that address the needs of all employees at a given workplace,
regardlessof gender, age ethnicity, socioeconomic status, culture, job
type, or physical or intellectual capacity.
sensitive and all-inconclusive program design, as well as targeted,
complementary interventions for more vulnerable employees, such as
those who are economically challenged, less educated or underserved.
to help working families balance work and family commitments and
policies built around child care, elder/dependent care telecommuting,
and flexible work schedules.
to determine how to improve participation among employees who have the
highest risk behaviors.
view the AHA Policy Statement in its entirety, visit http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/reprint/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.192653.
American Heart Association, 7272 Greenville Ave., Dallas, TX 75231;
(800) 242-8721, www.heart.org/HEARTORG.