A Visual Guide to Employee Heart Health

Getting to the heart of employees’ health risks.

According to a national statistics report, a heart attack happens every 40 seconds in the United States. Which means by the time you read this sentence, someone may have just had a heart attack. What can employers do to reduce that number?


Let’s start with the basics.

Everyone knows the ways to avoid heart disease: a sensible diet full of fruits and vegetables, 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week, and maintaining a healthy weight. All of your employees are doing that, right? Let’s be honest, these are the things many people ignore that lead to heart disease. But there’s good news: this is where your health and wellness programs can have a real impact. Investing in programs that encourage healthy behaviors is smart for employees’ hearts and your bottom line. Especially when you consider heart disease resulted in $237 billion dollars in lost productivity in 2016. As the percentage of the population diagnosed with heart conditions grows, lost productivity is estimated to grow by 55% by 2035.

$237 billion in lost productivity. That’s a hard pill to swallow.

While diet and exercise can help manage high cholesterol and high blood pressure, it’s not enough. Many people still aren’t meeting healthy cholesterol and blood pressure goals. There are medications available to help with both. But, as C. Everett Koop said, “Drugs do not work in patients who do not use them.” Unfortunately, 50% or more of those who start on high cholesterol and high blood pressure medications stop taking them within one year.

Learn more about heart disease and medication adherence from our new infographic.

Medication adherence is one of the most critical ways employers can impact employees’ heart health.

If you could ensure your employees were taking their medication, could you improve their heart health? Yes. And this is why employers must choose a health plan that addresses employee medication adherence and identifies gaps in care. This way they can take steps to help before employees’ health and productivity are impacted.

Questions employers should ask their current or prospective health plan:

  1. Do you identify medical and pharmacy health care gaps for my employees? If your current or prospective health plan doesn’t do this, this is an important red flag. Look for plans that identify when your employees are missing important lab tests or not filling prescriptions as prescribed, under both the medical and the pharmacy benefit.

  2. Do you contact my employees and their doctors when care gaps are found? The plan you want will reach out to both employees and doctors with clinically solid recommendations to get employees back on track.

  3. What ways do you offer employee medication savings? An important way to keep employees on medications is to help make them affordable. Ask your health plan if they have programs that offer low or no copays for drugs that help prevent chronic diseases, such as heart disease.

  4. How do you reward doctors for improved health outcomes? The health plan that’s right for you should engage doctors and share savings from improved health outcomes, such as patients who stay on medications as prescribed.

Asking the right questions and choosing the right health plan can help your employees make the right choices for their heart health. Heart disease is a big problem to solve, but the more employers and health plans work proactively together – identifying missed medications or gaps in the care — the better chance there is at getting to the heart of the problem.

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