Employers who implement an American Heart Association (AHA) wellness program can improve workers'' knowledge of cardiovascular disease risk factors, promote healthy behaviors and reduce sick days.
A new study published in the March issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine compared the before-and-after questionnaire responses at two manufacturing plants in the southeastern United States, one of which used the AHA Heart at Work program.
The Heart at Work program uses a multidimensional approach to reducing cardiovascular disease, focusing on the risk factors of diet, physical activity, blood pressure control, stress and smoking. Nearly 13,000 U.S. companies use the program, but this study is the first formal evaluation of its impact.
The researchers found that workers at the facility that offered the Heart at Work program had increased knowledge of blood pressure management, the importance of good nutrition and factors increasing the risk of heart attack. Best of all, say researchers, employees appear to take the knowledge they''ve gather and put it to good use. Workers at the study site were more likely to say they were planning healthy changes to their lifestyles, such as improving their diet, treating high blood pressure and losing weight.
Workers at the facility employing the Heart at Work program were approximately half as likely to take sick days, and they reported high levels of satisfaction with the program.
The study was sponsored by pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc.
For more information about the Heart at Work program, visit the Web site of the American Heart Association.
by Sandy Smith ([email protected])