September 27 is World Heart Day

September 25, 2009 by  

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world heartThis Sunday, September 27 is World Heart Day.

Cardiovascular diseases claim 17.5 million lives worldwide every year, making it the world’s number 1 killer. The World Heart Federation (WHF), together with the World Health organization (WHO) organizes on this day various awareness events in more than 100 countries around the world. These events include

health checks, organized walks, runs and fitness sessions, public talks, stage shows, scientific forums, exhibitions, concerts, carnivals and sports tournaments.

This year’s theme is “work with heart” – closely supporting the Working Towards Wellness Initiative of the World Economic Forum – is touching on a recurring issue – that businesses and employers should focus on the importance of employee health to achieve core business objectives. In fact, many companies have made wellness a part of their corporate agenda. Unfortunately, this seems to be mostly true only in developed countries. The health of many workers in low- and middle income countries is not being taken seriously by their employers. Yet, statistics from WHF indicates that businesses can actually benefit by keeping their workforce healthy. Check out these figures:

  • 80% of deaths from cardiovascular disease occur in low- and middle income countries

  • Almost 50% of those who die from chronic diseases are in their productive years.

  • The WHO estimates that between 2005 and 2015, income loss (in international dollars) due to health problems could rise to as much as $558 billion in China, $237 billion in India, $303 billion in Russia and $33 billion in the UK.

  • The BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) currently lose more than 20 million productive life-years annually to chronic disease, and that number is expected to grow 65% by 2030.

  • The losses in productivity associated with these diseases like disability, unplanned absences and increased accidents are as much as 400% more than the cost of treatment

In the US, the American Heart Association (AHA) is in the frontline of World Heart Day Efforts. It will join 197 other member organizations in supporting this global initiative.

The AHA Start! initiative, the American Heart Association is one of the most effective program in encouraging businesses into incorporating a heart-healthy lifestyle into people’s daily work life. In the September 28 issue of the Fortune magazine, AHA gives recognition to almost 1,2000American companies, the so-called Start! Fit Friendly Companies.

According to AHA president Dr. Clyde Yancy

“Those employers who implement wellness programs are experiencing healthy returns on their investment. Research shows that companies can save as much as $4-$16 for every $1 spent on health and wellness and physically active people can save an estimated $500 a year in personal healthcare costs. These cost savings plus having a healthier workforce matter tremendously in today’s economy…Changes in the workplace that encourage healthier lifestyles — such as tobacco cessation and prevention, regular physical activity, stress management, nutrition education and disease management — can significantly improve employees’ heart health; that’s a good thing.”

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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