If you had to pick just one health check for your employees, it makes sense to do it for the disease that’s the number 1 killer in Australia: cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Heart checks are one of, if not the, most powerful health checks you can give your employees.
For employees at severe risk, it can pull them back from the brink of heart disease and cardiovascular disease.
For younger, healthier employees, it can show them that their choices today, in well they control their weight, and whether they smoke or drink, can have a direct influence on their chances of dying of cardiovascular disease.
It’s heavy stuff, but it cuts straight to the core of what workplace health programs are all about. We don’t tend to talk about fatal diseases with our employees. Naturally the focus is on the more palatable benefit of feeling good, having more energy, being fit or losing weight.
Yet it’s actually these chronic diseases – CVD, diabetes – that cost businesses the most in terms of lost productivity.
The cost of cardiovascular disease
According to a Heart Foundation report by Access Economics, CVD costs Australia $3.6 billion a year due to lower employment rates and premature mortality cost. They estimate 55,871 Australians are not in workforce due to CVD.
The AIHW 2010 Risk Factors and Participation in Work report found that 96 per cent of working age Australians had at least one chronic disease risk factor and 72 per cent of working-age Australians had multiple risk factors. People with risk factors have a higher rate of absenteeism. The full report has some really informative charts on the links between chronic disease risk factors and absenteeism.
Why is CVD such a big deal?
CVD affects one in every six Australians, and this is expected to rise to one in four by mid-century. An Australian dies every 10 minutes from CVD.
Half the Australian population over 25 have high blood cholesterol, one of the main risk factors of CVD. The other risk factors are just as prevalent: half of Australian adults do not exercise enough and 60% of those over 25 are overweight. Some 30% of Australians over 25 have high blood pressure.
Why heart checks?
Heart checks are a highly effective way of alerting employees to their level of risk, so they can make changes before it’s too late. They tick all the boxes:
– they’re relevant and important for employees of all ages, genders and fitness levels.
– they focus on risks which can be reversed – changes to lifestyle can greatly reduce an employee’s risk of heart disease.
– they are proven to be an effective “kick up the butt” to help at-risk employees
In just 10, 15 or 20 minutes, an employee can find out if they’re at risk, and they can start making changes to avert the risk.
What do heart checks check?
We now know that there are certain risk factors which lead to heart disease. High blood pressure. High cholesterol. High blood glucose levels. High risk waist circumference.
Good heart checks assess these metrics. Healthworks has three levels of heart check: a 10 minute Express, a 15 minute Standard and a 20 minute Premium option. The Premium Healthy Heart Check includes assessment of blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose levels and waist circumference, along with an assessment of lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, nutrition, exercise and stress, plus an individual record of results and a personalised action plan.
Why does it make a difference?
The assessment itself will not prevent CVD, but it will provide the essential first step. The best heart checks are combined with personal, sensitive education about simple steps and changes the employee can make to reduce their risk.
Heart disease can be prevented. Lifestyle changes such as reducing or quitting smoking, eating more fruits and vegetables, exercising more and managing your weight can directly reduce your risk of heart disease.
This is just as relevant for young, fit and healthy employees. For these employees, “reduce your risk of heart disease” is often not real or personal enough. They feel heart attacks are the realm of older people – it’s too far and too distant. Through health checks, they learn that their current lifestyle, the choices they make today in what they eat and whether they exercise, could either lead directly to heart disease, or lead them in the other direction towards optimum heart health and longevity.
Healthworks is a leading provider of workplace health and wellness programs, including a Healthy Heart Package which gives you Healthy Heart Checks, our Heart Care ebook and booklet and Healthy Heart Seminar. Email us or call on 1300 90 10 90 to find out more.