Tag Archives: Stroke

5 Evidence-Based Benefits of Workplace Wellness Programs

Workplace Wellness

Great reasons to start a corporate wellness program

Corporate wellness programs are more popular today than ever before. In the late 1970s, a few major corporations kicked things off by launching fitness tracking programs that focused almost entirely on physical fitness. Since then, wellness programs have evolved into holistic programs that include mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.

Today, good wellness programs not only encourage physical activity and healthy eating (which are great ways to prevent heart disease), but they often include mindfulness workshops, lunchtime yoga sessions, tobacco cessation programs, weight loss competitions, healthy living seminars, and health screenings. Wellness programs are now standard components of many corporate — large, mid-sized, and small — benefits packages.

When well executed, wellness programs offer workers incentives, tools, social support, and simple strategies for adopting and maintaining healthy behaviors. Furthermore, research shows that promoting healthy habits to employees and encouraging healthy behaviors through on-site fitness centers or gym memberships, lunchtime wellness programming, health-centered competitions, bike-to-work incentives, and mindfulness seminars are effective ways  to benefit both employer and employee.

1. Healthy, Happy Employees Incur Lower Health Costs

Lower health costs are mutually beneficial for employer and employee alike. Some companies even pass a percentage of health cost savings along to the employees as an incentive or use the savings to keep employee health insurance costs down.

“In a case study of large companies, total medical spending at a company with an employee wellness program experienced slower growth in health costs than companies without a program. Employees saw meaningful reductions in chronic disease risk factors; and average annual savings per employee were $565 (in 2009 dollars), producing a return on investment equal to a range of approximately $2 to $4 saved per dollar spent on the program” (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion).

2. Wellness Programs Improve Productivity

There appears to be a strong link between physical activity and cognitive benefits like memory and focus. A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that employees who participated in a health promotion program and improved their health care or lifestyle regained an average of 10.3 hours in additional productivity annually and saved their companies an average of $353 per person per year in productivity costs compared to non-participants.

Evidence also indicates that instituting workplace health programs can reduce the average number of sick days taken, health plan costs, and workers’ compensation and disability insurance costs by approximately 25%.

3. Wellness Programs Improve Employee Engagement

In a Humana-sponsored report, the Economist Intelligence Unit found that wellness programs help bring employer and employee priorities and goals into alignment. In fact, 69% of those surveyed agreed that health and wellness programs are important to their organization’s culture.

“They [wellness programs] increase employee engagement with the company’s mission and goals. Employees are also more likely to see their own wellness as being linked with professional success. Companies that build a wellness culture thus acquire a workforce that is not only more focused and engaged, but that sees that culture as benefiting their careers.”

If that’s not enough, there’s also strong evidence to suggest that wellness programs can lead to improved employee retention and productivity.

4. Employee Wellness Programs May Decrease Depression

Wellness programs aren’t just for the body, they’re for the mind and spirit, too. Holistic wellness programs can help alleviate depression and the symptoms of depression, leading to higher rates of overall work/life satisfaction.

An article published by the National Institutes of Health revealed that those in the wellness study’s intervention group (as compared to those in the control group) were a whopping 63% more likely to show a decrease in their Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) score.

Depression is the leading cause of presenteeism — poor employee performance — in the workplace. By decreasing BDI scores, employers can help their employees become happier and more productive.

5. Wellness Programs Inspire Healthy Behaviors and Reduce the Risk of Chronic Diseases

Making lasting changes to behaviors is challenging for many Americans, but workplace wellness programs can make a tremendous difference. Employers and employees can enjoy all the benefits that accompany healthy weight loss, including lower cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure levels, and more. Wellness programs can reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, or cardiac arrest, and in as little as six weeks, health risks could decline dramatically leading to a healthier, happier, and more productive workplace.

Please contact Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362 to learn more about our AED packages and our first aid, CPR, and AED training courses — all important components of company wellness programming! We also welcome your email queries; you can reach us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

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Key Differences Between a Heart Attack, Sudden Cardiac Arrest, and a Stroke

Infographic: American Heart Association

Is it a Heart Attack, Sudden Cardiac Arrest, or a Stroke?

They’re all serious conditions that require immediate medical attention but many people don’t fully understand the differences between these three common killers. Simply put, a heart attack is a circulatory problem, sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is an electrical malfunction in the heart, and a stroke is caused by a blood clot or ruptured blood vessel in the brain.  

In this article, we’ll help you understand what’s happening within the body during each of these medical emergencies.

Although the risk factors may be the same from person to person, understanding the differences between these conditions can be a matter of life and death.

What’s a Heart Attack?

Heart attacks are, essentially, a circulation problem and they occur when blood flow to a person’s heart is severely reduced or blocked. Heart attacks can be relatively mild or very, very serious.

During a heart attack, an artery becomes clogged and cannot carry enough oxygen to the heart. The heart may continue to beat normally but if the blockage is not quickly resolved, parts of the cardiac muscle will begin to die from lack of oxygen. The longer a heart attack goes on without treatment, the greater the damage to the muscle.

Symptoms of a Heart Attack

You may be able to prevent a heart attack from occurring if you know what to look for and you listen to your body! Symptoms can occur hours, days, and even weeks before the heart attack itself. The most common symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the chest
  • Lightheadedness, nausea, or vomiting
  • Jaw, neck, or back pain
  • Discomfort or pain in arm or shoulder
  • Shortness of breath

It’s well worth noting that women may experience symptoms of a heart attack differently from men. Even though heart disease is the number-one killer of women in the United States, women often fail to identify their symptoms as warning signs of a heart attack (American Heart Association).

In addition to (or instead of) the symptoms listed above, women may experience pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, lightheadedness, fainting, flu-like symptoms or extreme fatigue.

What’s Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Cardiac arrest is an electrical problem and is caused when an individual’s heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating, which prevents blood and oxygen from flowing to vital organs. Unlike a heart attack, SCA is always serious. Without the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) to shock the heart back into a healthy rhythm, death can occur within minutes.

Symptoms of Cardiac Arrest

A heart attack often telegraphs its arrival with clearly defined symptoms, SCA, however, can occur with little or no warning, as it did for SCA survivor Rob Seymour. Symptoms are immediate and dire: sudden loss of consciousness/responsiveness, lack of breathing, and no pulse. During a cardiac arrest, the heart stops beating and the organs of the body are deprived of oxygen.

When the heart stops beating, death can occur within minutes.

SCA can be caused by any number of events, such as ventricular fibrillation, a sudden blow to the chest, electrocution, drowning, drug abuse, heart attacks, cardiomyopathy, or hypothermia. Cardiac arrest can be reversible if it’s treated in the first few minutes with CPR and by using an AED on the victim.

What’s a Stroke?

A stroke is a “brain attack” that can happen to anyone at any time and occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked by a clogged or burst blood vessel. When blood flow to the brain is cut off, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle control are permanently lost (National Stroke Association).

Symptoms of Stroke

Using the acronym FAST, you just may be able to save someone’s life. If someone’s face begins to droop or they’re complaining of numbness, ask them to smile. If the person’s smile is lopsided, they may be having a stroke. If their arm is weak or numb, ask them to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? Is their speech slurred or strange? If someone is showing any of these symptoms, it’s time to call 9-1-1 immediately.

What You Can Do to Assist Someone Who is Experiencing a Heart Attack, SCA, or Having a Stroke?

If you witness someone suffering from a possible heart attack, SCA, or a stroke call 911 immediately. The operator may be able to help you administer compression-only CPR to the victim. If possible, ask a bystander to locate an AED.

You never know when your actions could help save a life.

To become better equipped to offer assistance, sign up for first aid, CPR, and AED training today! Cardio Partners offers CPR, First Aid, AED, and bloodborne pathogen training courses in all 50 states in traditional classroom settings and in blended learning courses. To learn more about our courses or to schedule a training, call our team at 866-349-4362 or email Cardio Partners at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

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How Cold Weather Affects Your Heart

Are you and your heart ready for the frigid depths of winter?

Cold Weather and SCA

Photo Courtesy: NBC News

Brrrrr! With great swaths of the country feeling the icy effects of January, now is the perfect time to make sure that you and your heart are staying warm this winter.

Winter can present its own special set of challenges and can be especially treacherous if you’re over 65, have already had a heart attack, or have been diagnosed with heart disease. Regardless of whether or not you have heart disease, though, taking care of your heart and body during bitterly cold months is a smart move.

Why is Winter So Hard on Your Heart?

Our bodies naturally react to cold environments by making certain physiological adjustments. Put another way, your body works harder when it’s cold. And that’s generally a good thing! The extra effort your body puts into staying warm protects your vital organs and helps maintain your core body temperature. However, while natural and necessary, these changes can be challenging — and perhaps even dangerous — for people with heart disease.

Heart Attacks are More Common in the Winter

Cold temperatures can cause your blood vessels to contract and your blood flow to speed up. In fact, that’s what helps keep you warm.

However, it may also cause your heart rate and blood pressure to increase. When this occurs, your heart is working significantly harder than it does under more temperate conditions. If you factor additional exertion like slogging through heavy snow or shoveling a snow-covered walkway into the equation, it could be a recipe for a heart attack.

“According to a study published in JAMA Cardiology in November, which analyzed information on about 274,000 people living in Sweden, the risk of having a heart attack was greatest on days when the temperature was below freezing. Another study, published in PLOS One in 2015, found up to a 31 percent increase in heart attacks in the coldest months of the year compared with the warmest” (Consumer Reports).

Risk of Stroke Increases in the Winter

If that’s not enough to make you head for the coat closet (or Florida), frosty temps can also increase the likelihood of blood clots which, in turn, increases the odds of suffering from a stroke or embolism.

Fortunately, many of the causes that are commonly believed to be behind the increased incidence of stroke during the colder months, whether infection, lack of sunlight, depression, or sedentary lifestyle, are preventable. Just remember to wash your hands, take your vitamin D, and get some exercise. If you think you may be suffering from depression, talk to your doctor!

Hypothermia Can Lead to Heart and Respiratory System Failure

When your body temperature dips below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, things get pretty ugly pretty fast. When this happens, hypothermia sets in and your heart, circulatory system, nervous system, and other organs cannot function properly.

Left untreated, hypothermia can result in death.

Symptoms of moderate to severe hypothermia include:

  • Shivering
  • Lack of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Weak pulse
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Drowsiness
  • Unconsciousness

How to Protect Yourself from the Cold

Now that we’ve established that winter is a bleak and frozen landscape dotted with danger and peril, it’s time to offer a few fail-safe recommendations for staying warm and protecting your heart.

Keep Your Home Cozy

If you haven’t conducted a home energy audit, now may be the time. Look for (and seal) obvious air leaks, upgrade your insulation, and inspect your furnace and ventilation systems to make sure you’re not wasting your warmth. Then, crank up your furnace to a toasty 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Stay Active Indoors

If you’re staying indoors because it’s just too cold outdoors, be sure to stay active! Move around at least once every hour and avoid sitting for prolonged periods of time. This gets the blood flowing and helps keep you warm.

Splurge on Some Tasty Tea

Go ahead and indulge a little. Just be smart about it! We recommend warm, wholesome meals and a nice cup of flavonoid-rich black or green tea.

“Short-term studies have shown that drinking tea may improve vascular reactivity—a measure of how well your blood vessels respond to physical or emotional stress. There’s also evidence that drinking either black or green tea may lower harmful LDL cholesterol levels” (Harvard Health Publishing).

Layer Up!

Not only is it like giving yourself a nice, warm hug, but wearing a number of thin layers can keep you warmer than one thick layer. Thin layers trap air and create a natural insulation barrier. And if you’ve never been called a hot head, we’re happy to do the honors. You can lose a ton of heat from your head, so don’t forget to don that stocking cap!

Shovel Smart

If you’re heading outside to clear a pathway, err on the side of caution. Let someone know what you’re up to so they can keep an eye on you, give yourself plenty of breaks, use an ergonomic snow shovel or snow pusher, avoid alcohol (which can make your body think it’s warm when it’s not), and above all else, listen to your body!


For more information about AEDs, CPR training, or First Aid certification, contact contact Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. We also welcome your emails; you can reach us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

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