South Florida Hospital News
Sunday May 26, 2019
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April 2005 - Volume 1 - Issue 9

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Work Hard…and Be Well!

Of all the remarkable findings which our cutting edge research reveals, perhaps the most astounding for our team at the Florida Heart Research Institute is that the leading cause of death in our country—cardiovascular disease—is, to a large degree, preventable. As the epidemiological and prospective evidence continues to mount, we find ourselves as a society spending more and more time to treat a disease which we are already well equipped to prevent. The CDC reported this past February that more than one third of Americans have two or more cardiovascular risk factors. The American Heart Association reports that only one quarter of diagnosed hypertensives are adequately treated; one quarter of the entire adult population is addicted to cigarette smoking; and, the majority of the adult population is overweight – in fact, one in five is obese. Clearly prevention is money well spent.

On February 1, 2005 Governor Jeb Bush and the state Cabinet approved a regulation enacted by the state legislature in its last session that will force insurers to rebate a portion of the health insurance premium to small employers with approved wellness programs. Unfortunately, the definition of approved programs is discretionary and remains undetermined and without standardization. However, the logic for a prevention program is so compelling that many companies have embarked on worksite wellness programs on their own initiative. In short, for health care insurance, like all insurance, costs are based on risk pool analyses: the greater the risk, the higher the price of insurance. Since healthcare insurance represents a major component of the price of labor—with implications extending all the way to America’s ability to compete in the international marketplace (to say nothing of the cost of lost productivity, wasted training and real human suffering), it is clear that a healthier workforce is a more profitable one.

From the employee’s perspective, the imperative of workplace wellness is equally compelling. Most workers spend at least half of their waking hours at work, with additional time devoted to getting to and fro. It is therefore not only reasonable, but essential to the employee that any effort to achieve a healthier lifestyle must incorporate the workplace.

The most successful programs in workplace wellness have been characterized by strong corporate leadership, pan-departmental planning, effective screening and risk identification, education, and specific programs of risk reduction—whether it be for weight loss, smoking cessation, regular exercise, diet modification, stress management, or careful medical follow-up for treatment of hypertension or hypercholesterolemia.

Local initiatives through the Health Department and the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce are helping employers large and small adopt worksite wellness programs. This is just the first step in what we hope will be a movement that sweeps the employer community. For its part, the Florida Heart Research Institute has initiated a program of corporate screening and education in an effort to pursue our mission to "stop heart disease through research, education and prevention". We encourage all employers to be proactive in their employees’ health and consult with their health insurance carrier to develop a customized wellness program – it’s a win – win for all concerned.

Dr. Paul Kurlansky, board certified cardiothoracic surgeon, Director of Research at the Florida Heart Research Institute, can be reached at (305) 674-3154 or DoctorWu18@aol.com.
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