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An international plea for healthier workplaces to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease

Marking, World Heart Day, held on 27 September 2009, the World Heart Federation, the World Health Organization and the World Economic Forum joined forces to call on governments, employers and workers around the world to make workplaces healthier.

Over 17.2 million people worldwide die annually from heart disease and stroke – the world’s leading cause of death. Workplace wellness programmes that encourage healthy diets, physical activity and restrictions on tobacco use have been shown to be a cost-effective way to save lives and improve productivity.

“There is still a widespread misconception that heart disease and stroke are “rich country” problems,” said Dr Fiona Adshead, Director, Department of Chronic Diseases and Health Promotion at the World Health Organization. “In fact, over 80% of deaths from cardiovascular disease occur in low- and middle-income countries. We need a worldwide effort if we are to have a significant impact.”

“At a time when governments and business leaders are devoting considerable amounts of energy, and billions of dollars, to improve the health of global financial systems, attention should also be directed to the health of the workforce”, said Professor Pekka Puska, President of the World Heart Federation. Professor Puska will officially launch World Heart Day, in Abuja, Nigeria where he will join with community leaders and health professionals, to discuss the prevention and control of heart disease, stroke and diabetes during a three-day all-Africa conference.

“The World Economic Forum has identified chronic diseases as a major global threat for human lives and for economic growth and development, over the coming ten years”, said Professor Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum. “Some of the world’s leading companies, members of the World Economic Forum, have ongoing workplace wellness programmes. In addition to improving health and well-being, this also makes good business sense, given that productivity losses due to chronic diseases have been estimated to be four times greater than the cost of their prevention or treatment.”

Workplaces are an ideal setting to encourage healthy lifestyles. Most people spend over half their waking hours working. This year’s call is to “Work with Heart”. Small changes, such as bans on smoking, making more fruit and vegetables available at canteens, and encouraging workers to incorporate physical activity into their daily routine, can make a big difference in terms of better health. These measures help prevent not just heart disease and stroke but also other chronic disease such as, diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory disease, which together cause 60% of all deaths worldwide.

There are also substantial benefits for employers, including increased productivity, up to 20% fewer sick days, lower medical costs, improved morale and corporate image, and enhanced staff retention.

Through its members and partners, the World Heart Federation has gathered a number of case studies that showcase “best practices” from all over the world.

More information, along with leaflets, posters, and a promotional video, are available on the World Heart Federation website www.worldheartday.org

Published on: October 14, 2009

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  • Stars
  • Anticoagulation Europe
  • Atrial Fibrillation Association
 

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