Lowering high cholesterol risks
Almost everyone has heard of high cholesterol. And a lot of people think if they just change their diet a little, cut out some high-fat foods, they’ll be fine. But in reality, only one out of every three adults with high cholesterol has the condition under control. Why is managing this disease so critical? Because it’s not always easy to spot. In fact, sometimes the first symptom of high cholesterol coud be a heart attack or stroke.
Know the basics.
High cholesterol can lead to Coronary Heart Disease, which is the #1 cause of illness and death in the US – so it’s fairly obvious why employers are looking for a way to help their employees better manage this disease. Let’s start with the basics and how you can help your employees prevent it.
High blood cholesterol is a condition that causes levels of certain bad fats, or lipids, to be too high in the bloodstream. Lipids build up inside blood vessels, narrowing them and making it harder for blood to circulate through the body. What factors affect cholesterol levels? Diet, a sedentary lifestyle, genetics, smoking, stress, as well as other diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.
Get your employees moving on health.
A healthy lifestyle can help your employees reduce their risks for many diseases, and high cholesterol is definitely one of them. How much do employees need to move? Exercise guidelines recommend 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise three to four times a week. Other good habits to encourage: limit foods high in saturated fat, such as red meat, butter, fried foods, and cheese. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and foods high in soluble fiber. With exercise and healthy eating, employees can lose weight to achieve a healthy BMI and healthier levels of cholesterol.
Medication is sometimes necessary.
Medication can help control cholesterol levels. They range in price so you’ll want to check with your doctor about medications that are appropriate for you and see what your health plan covers. The most popular and affordable choice is statin drugs. Statins are oral medications that can reduce bad cholesterol as much as 60% and are proven to reduce incidences of illnesses and death. PCSK9 inhibitors are a new type of injected drug that have been effective at reducing cholesterol by as much as 70%. They are often prescribed when statins and lifestyle changes are not enough to lower cholesterol levels. PCSK9 can be expensive, with costs of approximately $14K per year.
As an employer, there are ways to help employees better manage their cholesterol:
Healthier habits at work: Provide low cholesterol food options in vending machines and on cafeteria menus.
Education is powerful: Use health fairs, workshops, or classes to educate employees on preventing and controlling high blood cholesterol.
Support and inspire: Promote physical activity, nutrition guidelines, obesity reduction, and tobacco cessation as ways to control cholesterol.
Check your health benefits: Make sure they include programs that help keep employees on prescribed medication. Choose integrated health benefits for employee health plans. Annual eye exams can help identify possible cases of high cholesterol. Dental checks can find chronic periodontitis, which is linked to high blood cholesterol levels.
Following these suggestions and choosing the right health plan that can support your employees is essential to combating high cholesterol and the life-threating diseases associated with it. Don’t wait until cholesterol levels get high – help your employees live healthier today.
Learn more by checking out our new infographic.