American Heart Month: 3 Heart-Healthy Takeaways
In February, health organizations, corporations, and communities join together for American Heart Month, an initiative led by the American Heart Association (AHA) to raise awareness about heart disease and prevention. The key goals are to provide facts and education on heart disease and offer strategies and resources for companies like yours to help employees make heart-healthy lifestyle choices.
Let’s jumpstart heart month with three things you should know:
The impact and severity of cardiovascular disease is alarmingly high. In the US, cardiovascular disease is listed as the underlying cause of death in approximately 1 out of every 3 deaths per year, according to a new 2019 report from the AHA. The data shows that at least 48 percent of all adults in the US have some form of cardiovascular disease, such as coronary artery disease, stroke, heart failure, and high blood pressure. And for perspective, cardiovascular diseases claim more lives annually than all types of cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease combined.
Approximately every 40 seconds, an American will have a heart attack and need immediate medical care. With this many people affected by cardiovascular disease, the associated healthcare costs are significant. The AHA reports that direct and indirect (lost productivity/ and mortality) costs of total cardiovascular diseases and stroke were $351.2 billion in 2015. And the trajectory doesn’t look good, as total direct medical costs of CVD are projected by the AHA to increase to $749 billion in 2035.
Approximately 80 percent of premature heart disease and strokes are preventable. You read that correctly: 80 percent! The CDC reports that the majority of deadly outcomes from cardiovascular disease and stroke could have been prevented with lifestyle tweaks or relatively inexpensive and widely available medications. The CDC adds that prevention requires a team approach: coordinated actions by healthcare professionals and companies (here’s where you come in) to promote physical activity and healthy eating among patients and employees.
Educate employees about preventive health behaviors. To determine the heart health of Americans, the AHA measures the key health behaviors that increase an individual’s risk for heart disease and stroke. The list includes: physical activity, healthy diet, body weight, not smoking cigarettes (including e-cigarettes), and control of cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. Help employees understand that by adopting healthy lifestyle behaviors, they can significantly reduce their risk of heart disease. Encourage these behaviors with educational content, wellness initiatives, incentives and healthy food choices at work.
Don’t miss a beat. Check back later this month for more heart-healthy content.