Encourage heart health during National Cholesterol Education Month

Many employers are implementing wellness programs to improve the workers’ health and reduce the likelihood of an accident on site. While some employers may focus on weight-loss initiatives or programs based on smoking cessation, cholesterol is a vital component of a healthy lifestyle. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance” that can collect in a person’s arteries, creating blockages that can interfere with the individual’s blood flow. Not only does having too much low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or “bad cholesterol,” in the blood pose a risk for heart disease, it also may harm a person’s mobility.

According to the CDC, September is National Cholesterol Education Month. Employers may want to consider encouraging workers to adopt a low-fat diet to reduce their development of high cholesterol and to conduct a risk assessment to help employees understand if they should be more concerned about their heart health.

The health hazards of high cholesterol
According to the CDC, cholesterol can cause significant damage to blood vessels, putting a person at risk of developing heart disease or experiencing a heart attack or stroke. When a person has too much LDL cholesterol instead of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, or “good cholesterol,” he or she may be harming his or her body’s ability to pump blood throughout the body. According to the CDC, heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the U.S., as more than 1 million people have a heart attack every year and causes approximately 500,000 people to die annually.

Cholesterol also increases a person’s risk of developing diabetes, which further boosts the risk of heart attack.

Employers may want to provide ways to evaluate worker cholesterol as part of their workplace wellness program. According to the CDC, heart disease was estimated to cost the economy $444.2 billion in 2010 alone.

It also may be beneficial to encourage employees to consume nutritious foods, exercise regularly and cease smoking to reduce their risks of developing high cholesterol. Unhealthy eating and a sedentary lifestyle may cause a person to increase their LDL cholesterol. It may be a good idea for employers to include cholesterol education in wellness initiatives.

Provide workers with cholesterol management tools
Employers may want to provide workers with information about how to reduce their LDL cholesterol. According to Dr. Carl Lavie, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at the John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute, cholesterol can be managed through nicotinic acid supplements that are created specifically for heart health.

“The important ingredient to look for in a dietary supplement niacin is nicotinic acid, the only form of niacin that is clinically proven to support HDL, or good cholesterol,” Lavie said.

Other types of cholesterol management include eating nutritious food rather than goods high in fat as well as becoming more active. Employers may want to encourage workers to invest in their own health by adopting a fitness initiative or reducing their consumption of high-fat foods.

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