Invest in Your Heart Health This Month
We live in a culture that is focused on investing for the future. One of the first things a new graduate does when launching their career is to start investing in their company’s 401(k), while expectant parents are now advised to start saving for college even before the baby is born.
To celebrate American Heart Month, I wanted to take the opportunity to remind everyone that now is the time to make one of the most important investments in the future that anyone can make: heart health. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, with someone dying of cardiovascular disease every 34 seconds. Focusing on cardiovascular health can generate massive returns that not only improve the quality of life today, but also decades down the road.
But just as a savvy investor wouldn’t put their life savings in a single fund, the best investment in heart health comes from diversifying your efforts across multiple categories. That’s where the 8 essentials of heart health come in.
Understanding the 8 essentials of heart health
The American Heart Association (AHA) recently updated its guidance for improving and maintaining cardiovascular health by adding new components reflecting the latest science around heart health behaviors and factors. The AHA then summed up this guidance in its Life’s Essential 8 checklist that provides simple but powerful advice on how to:
- Eat better
- Be more active
- Quit tobacco
- Get healthy sleep
- Manage weight
- Control cholesterol
- Manage blood sugar
- Manage blood pressure
Focusing on your heart health can also generate great results in terms of your overall health and wellbeing, just like monetary investments generate both capital appreciation and quarterly dividends. Improving nutrition, physical activity, sleep, and stress can reduce the risk of everything from diabetes and cancer to getting in an automobile accident due to poor sleep. A healthy lifestyle can also help you improve mental and emotional wellbeing, find more day-to-day energy, increase productivity at work, and become more resilient to the curveballs of life.
How wearables make heart health more manageable for users
Technology can play an essential role in improving health by providing people with the data and insight they need to identify trends and stay on track. Wearables like Fitbit devices can help users reach their daily goals and improve overall wellbeing by focusing on core areas, including:
- Physical activity: In addition to helping people meet their daily step count and physical activity goals, users can identify when they tend to sit in order to reduce sedentary time and make other positive lifestyle changes.
- Sleep: By tracking both the duration and quality of sleep, users can make the changes they need to improve their sleep habits and sleep quality.
- Nutrition: Apps can help users log what they’re consuming and learn how to eat smarter so they can reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease and better manage chronic conditions.
- Stress: Electrodermal activity (EDA) sensors can help users identify and track stress throughout the day, while guided breathing sessions and meditation provide an outlet to manage stress as needed.
- Heart health: Users can take an atrial fibrillation (AFib) assessment on demand and get notifications when an irregular heart rhythm is detected so they can have more informed discussions with their doctor.
Why wearables are a smart investment for payers
As society continues to grapple with the sky-high costs of healthcare, payers need to rethink their approach to healthcare benefits by focusing on both the short- and long-term health of their members. Similar to how employers encourage long-term retirement savings through 401(k) matching contributions, offering wearables as a benefit can help members build the habits they need to improve long-term health outcomes.
A recent study of daily activity data collected from Fitbit devices revealed a direct connection between step count and lower rates of several chronic illnesses. And a meta-analysis of 37 studies demonstrated that using Fitbit devices led to a statistically significant increase in daily step count and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity as well as a significant decrease in weight for participants.
The sooner members can leverage wearables to understand physical activity, monitor sleep patterns, manage stress, and improve nutrition, the sooner they can improve their overall health and reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions. The ultimate goal is better outcomes and lower healthcare costs – certainly a worthwhile investment.
In our recent white paper, we look at the role that consumer wearables can play in delivering the value-based care that will be required to meet the healthcare challenges of an aging America. More than 65 million American adults already own consumer wearables, making it a proven technology that payers can feel confident members will embrace.
Check out the whitepaper to learn how consumer wearables help enable value-based care by helping consumers:
- Collect data to help their providers identify health trends
- Stay motivated to engage in physical activity to help prevent disease
- Manage chronic conditions by monitoring key health metrics in real time
- Stay on track with medication reminders, appointment reminders, preventive health action tips, and more
If you’re looking for ways to help your population invest in their heart health, our team would love to partner with you. Reach out to us to learn more.