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The new Blood Pressure Guidelines & Your Wellness Program

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You’ve probably heard by now about the new Blood Pressure guidelines. But, what does it mean to us as consumers and to employers with a workforce that is likely to have almost half (46% average) of employees (Yikes!) now diagnosed with high blood pressure?

Here’s what we know: Our blood pressure range gives us a good picture of our overall health. High blood pressure is directly linked to higher stress rates and increased risk of cardiovascular complications such as heart attack and stroke.

If you work in an HR or Wellness capacity, you know that workplace stress is a top concern for many organizations. Stress has been dubbed the “Health Epidemic of the 21st Century” by the World Health Organization (WHO) and is estimated to cost American businesses up to $300 billion a year!

The good news is that medication (thus, higher claims and health insurance costs) is NOT the first answer to this problem!

Healthy lifestyle choices and changes, annual health screens and BP checks every 3-6 months are what is being prescribed and recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA) and American College of Cardiology (ACA).

Two Statistics That Matter:

  1. More than 75% of health care costs are due to preventable chronic conditions (including blood pressure)
  2. 80% of heart disease and stroke are preventable (and tied to high blood pressure)

For most people with a high blood pressure range, it’s changes in diet and exercise (behaviors), not drugs, that is needed to bring the high numbers back down to normal.

This is where the true value of a well-designed employee wellness program can create change, help save lives and make a difference, both in the health of your workforce, and to your company’s financial bottom line.

“At its core, a corporate wellness program is built on the belief that, by investing in health promotion and incentives, employers can create a healthier workforce by rewarding behavior modification including better utilization of preventative care, better healthcare choices, and healthier lifestyle choices. These behaviors will result in reduced risk of chronic disease, lower medical costs and improved productivity. – Corporate Health & Wellness Association

By incorporating health promotion initiatives focused on lifestyle changes, creating awareness and education, wellness programs can support people in reducing, preventing and eliminating high blood pressure. By providing education on the “How To’s” of healthy lifestyle choices and behavior modifications, exercise, nutrition and healthy eating, including how to avoid excess sodium (which can help lower BP by 2-3 points in some people), in line with preventative care adherence and prevention, employers can help employees reduce their risks.

Two other important wellness program components to help manage the BP risk are incorporating yearly health screens to identify those at risk and health coaching to provide support and accountability in behavior change management.

So, whether you’re reviewing your 2018 Wellness Program Strategy (a corporate financial strategy), or reviewing implementing a new program, consider these new guidelines and program recommendations as an effective solution.

For more on the new Blood Pressure Guidelines, I like this overview from Consumer Reports, who breaks it all down in a simple, easy to understand manner.

To learn more about how Cairnstone may be able to help you and your organization, contact Susan Van Hoosen, svanhoosen@cairnstonefinancial.com

New 2018 Blood Pressure Guidelines

New 2018 Blood Pressure Guidelines

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