According to the World Health Organization, nearly 1 billion adults over the age of 25 have uncontrolled hypertension. Worldwide, the statistics show that high blood pressure causes an estimated 7.5 million deaths (12.8% of deaths). The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that the disease contributes to 1,000 deaths per day and $131 billion in annual healthcare costs. With such high risk and cost, employers are encouraged to include blood pressure initiatives in their wellness program that help employees control and possibly avoid a disease that can often be fatal.
High blood pressure – also known as hypertension – is a result of blood pushing vessel walls at a higher speed than normal. The heart’s job is to pump blood intro arteries or blood vessels throughout the body. With high blood pressure, the heart works harder and causes arteries to harden, contributing to atherosclerosis and heart failure. Normal blood pressure is measured at 120/80. Anything over 140/90 is considered high blood pressure.
High risk factors
There are several factors that can place individuals at high risk for high blood pressure, including diet, heredity, age, and disease. Below is a list of the most common factors that contribute to hypertension.
• Diet and exercise – Diets high in sodium are a large contributor to high blood pressure. Sodium, in the form of excess salt, can be found in both processed and restaurant food. A diet low in sodium, cholesterol, saturated and total fat, and high in fruits and vegetables, fiber, potassium, and low-fat dairy products is recommended to prevent high blood pressure and heart disease. Excess weight, little exercise, smoking, and alcohol also increase the risk.
• Heredity – Family history of high blood pressure increases one’s likelihood of getting the condition in adulthood.
• Age – Blood pressure naturally increases with age, and therefore increases overall risk for older adults.
• Disease – Diseases like chronic kidney disease, adrenal and thyroid disorders, and obesity are known to increase an individual’s risk of hypertension.
• Studies show that women who take birth control pills, and individuals with sleep apnea have a greater risk, as well.
Keep blood pressure in check at the office
Implement initiatives in your wellness program to help employees monitor and prevent high blood pressure. Below is a list of great ways that can increase your employees’ success rate:
• Provide frequent blood pressure checks by a registered nurse – Offer employees annual health checks that include blood pressure checks. This can be done annually, and periodically during the year.
• Encourage proper diet and exercise – Invite local nutritionists and personal trainers to conduct information sessions for your employees. This will keep your employees informed, and motivate them to make lifestyle changes.
• De-stressing exercises – Include de-stressing exercises, like yoga and tai chi, to your wellness activities. Helping your employees de-stress will also help them lower their blood pressure.
The bottom line
High blood pressure is a major concern for employees worldwide. Understanding the risk factors in diet, hereditary, and lifestyle, will help employees take the initial steps towards improving their condition. Keeping their blood pressure in check will allow your employees to live a healthier, longer, and more enjoyable life.