According to the American Heart Association, someone dies of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) every 37 seconds in the U.S. This accounts for 2,353 deaths from CVD each day, based on 2017 data, making it the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. As is evident from these figures, it is extremely important that prevention becomes a part of your company culture by ensuring that your wellness program includes education and challenges centered on heart health and how to keep risk factors under control. This provides employees with a benchmark in order to begin working towards heart-healthier lifestyles. Living a heart-healthy lifestyle does take some effort because it involves changing daily habits, so it should be encouraged and exemplified within the workplace.
What is your company doing to manage the risk of heart disease in its employees? Apart from formal inclusion of heart-centric challenges and education in your wellness program, here are some broad suggestions for reducing the risk of heart disease right now:
- Reduce risk by maintaining a healthy weight. Being obese or overweight can severely increase your risk of heart disease because they are intimately linked to other heart disease risk factors, including high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
- Eat fresh, healthy foods. Aim to limit saturated fats, foods high in sodium, and added sugars. Eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Stay active. The heart is strengthened through exercise, just like any other muscle in your body. It also improves circulation, and will help you maintain a healthy weight - all of which reduce your risk of CVD.
- Limit stress. Stress can raise your blood pressure, and extreme stress can serve as a trigger for a heart attack. Regular exercise, meditation, and peaceful pastimes - such as reading, listening to or playing music, and focusing on happy thoughts or memories - can help lower your risk of CVD.
- Stop smoking. Cigarette smoking raises your blood pressure and puts you at higher risk for heart attack and stroke. It can also damage the structure of your blood vessels, leading to complications such as atherosclerosis, a type of arteriosclerosis.
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