Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the primary cause of death in Australia today, accounting for over a third of all deaths country wide and taking the life of one Australian almost every ten minutes, hence the need for a Heart Smart Workplace.
As our current health status stands, one in five Australians will be affected by heart disease within their lifetime, in many cases causing tragic death and burdening families, workplaces and the economy.
Heart disease is usually caused by a combination of risk factors. Some are unavoidable such as a family history of heart disease or increasing age, but the good news is most are modifiable and can be addressed with simple lifestyle changes.
While a corporate health program can target most of these modifiable risk factors through health checks, employee flu vaccinations and diet and exercise initiatives, giving some attention to heart health and providing education on prevention can be an important wake-up call for many high risk employees.
Implement a Smoking Cessation Program
Smokers and those who inhale second-hand smoke in the workplace are significantly more likely to develop heart disease. Make your workplace smoke-free and provide information and support to encourage smokers to quit.
Support Healthy Weight Management
Too much body fat, especially around the waist area, not only increases the risk of heart disease, but also some of the other contributing factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol. Support employees in maintaining a healthy weigh by encouraging a healthy diet and providing opportunities for regular exercise.
Provide Education on Healthier Fats
The risk of heart disease can be significantly lowered by reducing saturated fats found in meat, dairy and many pre-made foods, and replacing them with healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that are found in fresh foods such as avocados, almonds, and cooking oils such as sunflower and olive (heart smart foods and heart smart cooking).
Omega-3 oils are especially important in the fight against heart disease and are found in nutrient-rich fresh foods such as oily fish and linseeds.
Provide Health Checks to Monitor Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Levels
Over half of Australian adults have high blood cholesterol, increasing their risk of heart disease and stroke. Providing the opportunity for onsite cholesterol checks can catch high cholesterol before it causes too much damage.
Keeping blood pressure under control is equally important for preventing heart failure, and can also be easily incorporated into a voluntary onsite health check as part of a health expo or heart health day.
World Heart Day is on the 26th of September this year, and is calling on individuals and companies to promote healthy lifestyle changes in the workplace to reduce the destructive effects of heart disease across organisations and the community.
For more information on supporting a Heart Smart workplace, contact Healthworks on 1300 90 10 90 (International: IDD 61-2-9954-1888) or contact us.