Cardiovascular Health
Healthier Workforce Bulletin

Cardiovascular Health
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US for both men and women and claims nearly 1 in 4 people every year. Additionally, almost 720,000 Americans have their first or second heart attack and another 795,000 experience a new or recurrent stroke.  Coronary heart disease alone costs the nation $108.9 billion in health care costs, medications and lost productivity. Stroke adds another $53.9 billion in both direct and indirect costs. These costs burden employers, who spend an estimated 25-30% of their annual medical expenditures on employees with major cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors.

Healthy lifestyle habits - A healthy diet, regular physical activity, weight control and avoiding tobacco- are the foundation of cardiovascular prevention. Unfortunately, less than 10% of American adults have optimal lifestyle habits and risk factor levels. Workplace wellness programs can play an important role by providing employees with tools and support to reduce their risk of a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke.  Evidence shows that workplace wellness programs can positively alter CV risk factor profiles for workers with a CVD diagnoses and workers who otherwise appear healthy.

For the Employer
Workplace wellness programs should address lifestyle habits and risk factors to help employees improve their cardiovascular wellbeing, which is determined by weight, blood pressure, lipids, smoking, physical activity, diet and blood glucose. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends including multiple components for a comprehensive cardiovascular wellbeing program. Click here to view recommended components or download a PDF version.

Featured Resources
A CDC Six-Step Guide for Employers for Reducing the Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke in the Workplace
Heart360®:  Free and easy online tool to understand and track risk factors associated with a healthy heart - including blood pressure, physical activity, cholesterol, glucose, weight and medications. 

Take a Total Worker Health Approach
Work shift, work pace, and work organization may also contribute to increased risk for cardiovascular disease and shift workers in particular have a greater risk.  Taking a Total Worker Health approach would not only link occupational safety and health with health promotion and wellness, it would also integrate organizational elements to help reduce job strain and job stress, especially for higher risk occupations like shift workers. By looking at each worker as a whole and addressing how their specific job duties and assignments may jeopardize their health and safety, employers can better minimize their employee’s CVD risk and help improve their overall health and safety both on and off the job.

Continued education and programs are needed for the treatment of acute CVD events and also for primary and secondary prevention through treatment and control of health behaviors and risk factors. Dr. Jennifer Robinson, MD, MPH, an expert in cardiovascular disease from the University of Iowa College of Public Health, recommends considering statins and statin therapy for preventing CVD events.  “Many will need treatment with a statin to reduce the risk of a cardiovascular event....For more information and recommendations by Dr. Robinson, click here or download the PDF version

For the Researcher
There is an association, even if small, between cardiovascular disease and risk of injury.  Kubo et al. (2014) studied a group of manufacturing workers over a 10-year period and found that employees with chronic heart disease confer mild increased risk of acute occupational injury. Those with heart disease also had a higher percentage of lost work days due to injuries than those without heart disease.  Findings from this study warrant more research and confirmation in other workplaces, especially where worker tasks are dangerous and there are high rates of chronic disease. 

Supporting Literature
Alan et al. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics-2014 Update: A report from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 2014; 129: e28-e292.
American Heart Association Clinical Practice Guidelines for Prevention – Comprehensive series of guidelines and advisories for assessing and managing hypertension, cardiovascular risk, lifestyle modifications that reduce risk, management of elevated blood cholesterol, and management of increased body weight in adults.
Arena et al. Promoting health and wellness in the workplace: A unique opportunity to establish primary and extended secondary cardiovascular risk reduction program. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, June 2013: 88(6): 605-617.
Carnethon et al. Worksite wellness programs for cardiovascular disease prevention: A policy statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation, October 27, 2009: 120; 1725-1741.
Kubo J, Goldstein BA, Cantley LF, Tessier-Sherman B, Galusha D, Slade MD, Chu IM, & Cullen MR. Contribution of health status and prevalent chronic disease to individual risk for workplace injury in the manufacturing environment. Occupational Environmental Medicine 2014 71: 159-166.

Making the Case for Total Worker Health: An Overview of Opportunities and Approaches Available for Download
The inaugural webinar on “Making a Case for Total Worker Health: An Overview of Opportunities and Approaches” hosted by the NIOSH Total Worker Health™ Program and our friends at CPH-NEW is now available for download. Listen to the webinar or download the slides from each of the three presentations here.

1st International Symposium to Advance Total Worker Health
The NIOSH Total Worker Health™ Program will be hosting the 1st International Symposium to Advance Total Worker Health™ on October 6-8, 2014 in Bethesda, MD.  The Symposium will explore research, practices, programs and policies that advance the overall health, safety, and well-being of workers through integration of health protection and health promotion.  For more information about the Symposium, visit

Employer Tip of the Week
Tips related to employee safety, health and wellness will be shared weekly through Facebook, Twitter and the HWCE website.  Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to automatically receive tips each week.

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Upcoming Events
A more detailed listing with registration links is available through our online calendar of events.

* Healthy Iowa Conference on CultuRevolution and Building a Sustainable Iowa through Wellness
April 17, 2014 in Des Moines, IA; Event information will be available here.
* Iowa-Illinois Safety Council’s 61st Annual Conference & Expo
April 23-25, 2014 in Cedar Rapids, IA
Agenda and registration information available here
* 2 Your Health Expo, Eastern Iowa’s Largest Health Expo
Sunday, April 27, 2014 from 10am-4pm at the US Cellular Center downtown Cedar Rapids
Free admission, free parking with over 60 vendors including free chair massages, free wellness screenings, cooking demonstrations, Kids Zone, entertainment and more! For more information, visit
* May is National Bike Month
National Bike Month is sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists and is an opportunity for employers to showcase the many benefits of bicycling.  Several Iowa businesses have incorporated bicycling into their wellness and safety programs. Read more about what they are doing in a recent article from the Corridor Business Journal.  The League of American Bicyclists also provides resources including a Guide for Businesses and promotional materials which will be available soon here.
* Bike to Work Week
May 12-18, 2014; More information available here and above under National Bike Month.
* Bike to Work Day
Friday, May 16, 2014; More information available here and above under National Bike Month.
* Wellness Council of Iowa Wellness Huddle
June 19, 2014 in Burlington, IA on Prevention as a Wellness Strategy
Event details available here.
* 2014 Occupational Health Psychology Summer Institute: Advancing Theory and Practice in the Context of Total Worker Health
July 16-18, 2014 at Portland State University, Portland, OR
Registration information available here.
* 1st International Symposium to Advance Total Worker Health™
October 6-8, 2014 in Bethesda, MD; The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Total Worker Health™ Program is currently accepting abstracts. Click here for more information on the conference and the call for proposals.

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Please note that the “links” to other informational sources are provided for your professional development. The HWCE does not take responsibility for information contained beyond the files administered by the Center and does not represent the endorsement of commercial products.

  The Healthier Workforce Center for Excellence (HWCE) is one of four TWH™ Centers of Excellence funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Our mission is to improve the health of workers in Iowa and nationally through integrated health promotion and health protection research, collaboration with peer institutions, and dissemination of successful interventions.
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