Background: Heart disease and stroke, the principal components of cardiovascular disease (CVD), are the first and third leading causes of death in the United States. In 2002, employers representing 88 companies in the United States paid an average of $18,618 per employee for health and productivity-related costs. A sizable portion of these costs are related to CVD. Results: Employers can yield a $3 to $6 return on investment for each dollar invested over a 2 to 5 year period and improve employee cardiovascular health by investing in comprehensive worksite health-promotion programs, and by choosing health plans that provide adequate coverage and support for essential preventive services. The most effective interventions in worksites are those that provide sustained individual follow-up risk factor education and counseling and other interventions within the context of a comprehensive health-promotion program: (1) screening, health risk assessments, and referrals; (2) environmental supports for behavior change (e.g., access to healthy food choices); (3) financial and other incentives; and (4) corporate policies that support healthy lifestyles (e.g., tobacco-free policies). The most effective practices in healthcare settings include systems that use (1) standardized treatment and prevention protocols consistent with national guidelines, (2) multidisciplinary clinical care teams to deliver quality patient care, (3) clinics that specialize in treating/preventing risk factors, (4) physician and patient reminders, and (5) electronic medical records. Conclusions: Comprehensive worksite health-promotion programs, health plans that cover preventive benefits, and effective healthcare systems will have the greatest impact on heart disease and stroke and are likely to reduce employers' health and productivity-related costs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health