Saturday, April 16, 2011

How Is the Work Force Wellness Index Holding Up?

Thomson Reuters Workforce Wellness Index measures the cost of 6 modifiable risk factors in employed, privately insured populations.  The 6 risk factors include:  Body Mass Index (BMI), Total Cholesterol, Blood Sugar, Blood Pressure, Tobacco Use, and Alcohol Use.

The U.S. Workforce Wellness Index is on a declining trend.  The ideal state where no behavioral risk factors are present would be reported as a Wellness Index of 100.  The U.S. Wellness Index from 2005 to 2009 has declined from 86.4 to 84.4. 

Thomson Reuters research demonstrates around 14% of increased health care expenditures in the employed, privately insured workforce is related to the 6 modifiable risk factors above.   Thomson Reuters data suggests in the third quarter of 2010 these risk factors accounted for about $670 per employee  of the rising healthcare costs annually. 

More specifically, employees with a high Body Mass Index accounted for approximately  $400 of the increased healthcare expenditures per employee annually in 2009.  High blood sugar level came in as the next most significant risk factor in increasing health care costs.  Each of which can be changed given the right wellness plan and the right motivation.

Want to decrease costs in the work place?  Enroll your employees in a Wellness Program that will assist your employees in optimizing their health and taking charge of their life.  Here's a  Wellness Program that addresses each of these risk factors and offers individulized health care assessments and plans:    The Cardio Wellness center will also provide educational presentations to your employees. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Want to Reduce Your Risk Of Developing Type 2 Diabetes?

I see a lot of patients with pre-diabetes (fasting blood sugars 100-125) and with Type 2 Diabetes (2 fasting blood sugars of 126 or greater).  For the most part, patients can prevent Type 2 Diabetes through diet and lifestyle.  That is often why I tell my patients they are sitting in a good seat...this is something they can prevent.

In October 2010 Dr. Salas-Salvado and colleagues published a study on how the Mediterranean diet reduced development of Type 2 Diabetes by 52%.  There was no change in physical activity or weight.  Just a change in diet.  The study reported by utilizing the Mediterranean diet, development of Type 2 Diabetes was cut in half (52%).  The principle components of the Mediterranean diet utilized in the study:
  • Increased use of olive oil for cooking and dressing (participants were given free allotment of 1 liter virgin olive oil per week and 30 g of mixed nuts per day)
  • Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables
  • Increased consumption of legumes and fish
  • Decreased consumption of meat (recommending white instead of red meat)
  • Avoidance of fast food, sweets, pastries (simple sugars)
  • In alcohol drinkers, moderate consumption of red wine
So, if you are pre-diabetic or have Type 2 Diabetes, change up your diet to optimize your health.  Type 2 Diabetes in many cases can be prevented.

Salas-Salvado, Jori, MD and Colleagues. Reduction on the Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes with the Mediterranean Diet. Oct. 7, 2010 Diabetes Care.

Alcohol: Slippery Slope

I am in New Orleans presenting at the Nurse Practitioner Associates of Continuing Education (NPACE) seminar. This morning at 0830, I walked down the stairs from my hotel room to the front lobby...looking for some oatmeal, nuts and fruit.  When I got to the lobby, there was a man sitting on the sofa drinking from an oversized bottle of Blue Moon and his buddy, holding a big jug of whiskey and taking sips. Both participating in a conversation that made no sense to the sober passerby and both leaning on their free hand to keep their heads propped up for the conversation.  The front desk employee saw me take a triple look smiled and said, "Welcome to New Orleans - what can I do for you?"  

So, as I sat down to eat my healthy breakfast I couldn't help but think about those 2 guys in the lobby.  Obviously, this isn't the time or place to inform them of the effects of alcohol; but, alcohol is the source of much individual and societal suffering and morbidity.  In fact, alcohol abuse is the 3rd largest preventable cause of Death.  There are health benefits to alcohol as well.  In fact, light to moderate drinking is associated with cardioprotective benefits.  This constitutes 1 drink daily for women and 1-2 drinks daily for men.   (For further clarification:  1 drink is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer or 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces 80 proof spirits, or 1 ounce 100 proof spirits.  All of these contain 13 g- 15 g of ethanol.) 

Many people who are light drinkers believe that occasional "binge drinking" won't hurt their health.  But binge drinking even in light drinkers increases cardiovascular events and mortality(death).  Alcohol is a double edge sword and if you misuse it ... it can lead to much suffering (physical suffering too- heart disease, stroke, hypertension, liver disease, etc).  Because of that, the AHA guidelines caution people not to start drinking if you do not already drink alcohol; because it is not possible to predict who will develop alcohol abuse tendencies.  If you do drink without addiction tendencies 1 drink for ladies and 1-2 drinks daily for men will add some cardioprotection. 

After I finished my breakfast and headed back through the lobby to my room the employee said,  "Be glad you weren't here for Mardi Gras".

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2007 Sep 11;50(11):1009-14. Alcohol and cardiovascular health: the razor-sharp double-edged sword.  O'Keefe JH, Bybee KA, Lavie CJ.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

6 Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally

High blood pressure is the measurement of the force applied to the artery wall as the heart pumps blood through the body. Having high blood pressure can raise your risk of having a heart attack, stroke and for developing heart failure if left untreated.

Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80.
Prehypertension is 120-139/80-89.
Hypertension is greater than 140/90.

Fortunately, high blood pressure is a risk factor that can be managed. Here are 6 simple ways to lower your blood pressure naturally.
  1. Exercise
  2. Decrease sodium in diet
  3. Reduce stress
  4. Weight loss (if needed)
  5. Limit alcohol to no more than 2 drinks daily
  6. If you snore - see your health care provider