Worksite Wellness Programs for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention
A Policy Statement From the American Heart Association
With >130 million Americans employed across the United States, workplaces provide a large audience for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke prevention activities. Experience has shown that workplace wellness programs are an important strategy to prevent the major shared risk factors for CVD and stroke, including cigarette smoking, obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia, physical inactivity, and diabetes. An estimated 25% to 30% of companies’ medical costs per year are spent on employees with the major risk factors listed above.1 Employees and their families share the financial burden through higher contributions to insurance, higher copayments and deductibles, reduction or elimination of coverage, and trade-offs of insurance benefits against wage or salary increases. When programs are successful, their influence extends beyond the individual workers to immediate family members, who are often exposed to their favorable lifestyle changes. Worksite wellness programs that can reduce these risk factors can ultimately decrease the physical and economic burden of chronic diseases, including CVD, stroke, and certain cancers.
The societal benefits of a healthy employed population extend well beyond the workplace. As such, comprehensive, culturally sensitive health promotion within the workplace can improve the nation’s health. The Healthy People 2010 goal is for 75% of all worksites, regardless of size, to develop comprehensive wellness programming.2 However, the development of comprehensive programs takes time and resources, especially for smaller employers. Because program development and initiation can be resource intensive, the American Heart Association (AHA) supports incremental efforts to achieve a comprehensive worksite wellness program to address CVD and stroke prevention and makes the following recommendations.
Summary of Recommendations
Components of Wellness Programs
A comprehensive program aimed at improving employees’ cardiovascular and general health should include the following: Tobacco 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 …