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Take Heart Articles
Heart matters in the workplace
Paying for it. The cost of cardiovascular diseases and stroke in 2004 totalled $348.4 billion, according to the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. This phenomenal number includes direct and indirect costs.

Direct costs: the cost of physicians and other professionals, hospital and nursing home services, medications, home healthcare and other medical durables.

Indirect costs: lost productivity that results from illness and death. The costs in human loss and suffering are immeasurable.

The financial toll of coronary heart disease continues to rise. Between 1979 and 2001, the number of cardiovascular surgeries and procedures increased four-fold.

Losing heart. Quality of work and productivity suffer when a person battles heart disease. He or she must deal with a substantial decrease in activity level compared to those without the disease. Daily living is a struggle. Regular habits such as taking a shower and getting dressed can be difficult, especially in an older adult. Missed workdays can eat away valuable sick leave and vacation time.

In some older adults, heart disease even has the power to be a factor in influencing an earlier retirement, while also reducing satisfaction during retirement.

“It’s important to know that heart disease is largely preventable by living a healthy lifestyle,” says Palmetto Health Heart Hospital cardiologist Dr. Verne Prosser.

Heart at work. More employers are making it their business to reduce coronary heart disease in their companies. To help with such a responsibility, the American Heart Association established Heart at Work, which provides health promotion programs to employees and their families.

Heart at Work and other workplace wellness programs educate staff on lifestyle factors that increase one’s risk for heart attack or the onset of heart disease. Programs advocate no smoking, lowering cholesterol, eating healthy, regular exercise, weight management and stress management.

“Healthy employees are an employer’s greatest resource,” says Dr. Prosser. “As awareness increases, more companies and businesses will implement workplace wellness programs. It’s a life-saving step to take.”

Palmetto Health’s HealthWorks is an occupational health and wellness program for businesses and Palmetto Health employees. They offer occupational health services, such as physicals and on-site flu shots, as well as health promotion and education programs. Whether it’s a diabetes screening or a seminar on stress management, the HealthWorks staff works with businesses to develop a customized wellness program plan for employees.

For more information, call 803-296-3500

Are your employees your greatest resource? Here are a few ideas if you are thinking of starting a workplace wellness program.

Provide CPR training and access to AEDs (automated external defibrillators)

Promote a no-smoking workplace policy

Offer incentives that encourage non-smoking, exercise and weight management

Coordinate health promotion and stress management programs

Provide blood pressure and cholesterol screenings

Include healthy food choices in cafeterias and vending machines

Offer paid exercise and meditation breaks during the workday

Negotiate discounts on health club memberships