President Johnson declared the first American Heart Month in February of 1964, and this tradition of promoting cardiovascular health continues to be observed every year in February. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among both men and women in the United States (roughly 1 in 4 of all American deaths can be attributed to heart disease), but together we can take steps to lessen the threat of this lethal disease and promote healthier outcomes, especially among our employees and colleagues in the workplace.
Statistics Related to Heart Disease
When it comes to matters of life and death, most people assume that a given disease or condition is the sort of thing that happens to other people ― not to them. While this is an attitude many of us adopt, the statistics tell a different story:
- Roughly 87 million Americans are living with some form of heart disease
- Heart disease and strokes kill one woman every 80 seconds
- Heart disease and strokes are responsible for one in three female deaths every year
- Heart disease has been the leading cause of death every year since 1900 (except 1918)
- 80 million adults are living with high blood pressure
- 46% of African-American adult females and 45% of African-American males have high blood pressure
The good news is that medical advancements, increased education, and greater awareness have led to fewer Americans dying of heart disease-related issues since the 1980s, but we still have a long way to go in promoting healthier lifestyles if we want to continue this encouraging trend.
Improving Heart Health in the Workplace
Given the statistics listed previously, it’s likely that one or more of your employees is living with or at risk of developing heart disease. Luckily, it’s estimated that roughly 80% of cardiac- and stroke-related deaths can be prevented. There are several measures your business can adopt to encourage heart health and promote more awareness of the condition among your employees and colleagues; for example:
- Participate in National Wear Red Day: An annual event observed during the first Friday of each month in which participants wear red to spread awareness and raise money for heart health research.
- Go Red for Women: Post signs throughout the workplace encouraging the “Go Red” lifestyle:
- Get Your Numbers: Visit your primary care physician to get your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and glucose checked.
- Own Your Lifestyle: Quit smoking, exercise regularly, and eat healthier.
- Raise Your Voice: Be a part of the solution by advocating for more research and education around heart disease and cardiovascular health.
- Educate Your Family: Encourage your children, siblings, parents, and other loved ones and friends to adopt healthier eating habits and get regular exercise.
- Donate: If you can, make a company-wide donation, and consider having the business match employee contributions.
- Educate Your Staff: If your business distributes a regular newsletter, include a section on American Heart Month and some of the simple measures individuals can take to promote heart health within their home and spread awareness throughout their communities.
- Sponsor Employee Health Screenings: Prevention is the best approach to reducing heart disease complications, so sponsor optional on-site employee health screenings that allow employees to get a baseline understanding of their current health status and potential risk factors at no cost to them. Not only will this increase your employees’ interest in their own health, but it will also let them know that you genuinely care about their well-being.
American Heart Month events and info. (2016, February 1). American Heart Association.
February: American Heart Month. (2016, December 28). Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Retrieved fromhttps://healthfinder.gov/nho/februarytoolkit.aspx
Workplace health promotion. (2016). World Health Organization. Retrieved from http://www.who.int