Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 15th 2015 Contents A28
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Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Employers who want to encourage heart-
healthy behavior by employees should share
seven important messages, the American Heart
The messages are highlighted in the associa-
tion s new guidelines for employers who want
to promote heart health in increasingly popular
"workplace wellness" programmemes. They are:
stop smoking, get active, lose weight, eat better,
manage blood pressure, control cholesterol and
reduce blood sugar.
Employers who incorporate the AHA s Life s
Simple Seven plan into their programmemes will
have healthier employees, the AHA advisory panel
wrote in Circulation.
"There are about 155 million working Americans
today, that s about half of our population," said
Dr Elliott M Antman, senior physician at Brigham
and Women s Hospital in Boston and president
of the American Heart Association.
It makes sense to target education and inter-
vention efforts at this large group using workplace
wellness programmemes, he said.
"We want to inform people about what heart-
healthy living involves and have companies recog-
nised for promoting heart health," Antman told
Reuters Health by phone.
"We hope the lessons learned from that envi-
ronment will be carried home so workers spouses
and family will benefit as well."
A "comprehensive" workplace wellness pro-
gramme must include health education, sup-
portive social and physical environments, inte-
gration into other organisational initiatives, links
to other programmemes like employee health
and safety, and wellness screenings. Employers
need high-quality models to develop and imple-
ment effective programmemes, according to the
Antman referred to the AHA s My Life Check
online tool (here), which rates an individual s
level of heart health based on the Life s Simple
Seven criteria and assigns an overall score out
This tool gives individuals a sense of their
heart health. Employee scores can be averaged
to give a whole company an idea of how well
they are promoting healthy behavior, he said.
"Companies can track progress over time,
which is different than what is available now,"
Each workplace is different, so there is no one-
size-fits-all approach to workplace wellness, he
said---some employers may have a gym in the
building or access to one off-site, but may need
to improve the food offered at the cafeteria, or
provide more walking space.
Antman hopes that by recognising employers
who have effectively implemented a programme,
the AHA will inspire more and more companies
to take part.
Other recognition programmemes, like Health-
Lead and Wellness Council of America s Well
Workplace Awards, have inconsistent scoring and
do not focus specifically on heart health, accord-
ing to the AHA advisory.
"It can be confusing, not knowing which score-
card you want to use for your programme," said
Julie Stich, director of research for the Interna-
tional Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.
If an employer has noted that heart problems
are one of their most frequent employee health
issues, then this new AHA scoring system may
be useful, Stich told Reuters Health by phone.
It seems straightforward and incorporates many
aspects that companies already include in their
programmemes, she said.
But many employers still don t have a clear
Employers encourage heart healthy behaviour
picture of health status in the workplace, she
said. Those who do most commonly cite diabetes
as the biggest issue, with heart disease coming
second, she said.
Health benefits and missed days of work due
to illness are among the biggest employer expens-
es, Antman noted, and investing in a wellness
programme should yield higher productivity and
For smaller companies, there are low cost or
no-cost wellness options, Stich said. But, she
added, it can take three to five years before you
can measure the impact of a wellness programme.
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
The American Heart Association is urging
employers to encourage their workers to
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