The Silent Killer in the Workplace: Signs and Symptoms of Hypertension

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a life-threatening condition that affects nearly half of all U.S. adults.  However, most people aren’t even aware they have it.  Often called the “silent killer,” high blood pressure usually doesn’t come with any symptoms until after it's too late.  Knowing the signs and symptoms of hypertension can affect your employees-- and your budget. Here's how:

By the time someone notices symptoms of hypertension, they might be experiencing a heart attack or stroke.

According to the CDC, in 2017, nearly half a million deaths in the U.S. included hypertension as a primary or contributing cause.  This is largely due to the fact that having hypertension puts you at risk for developing heart disease, which is the number one cause of death in the U.S.   Although it usually presents no symptoms, high blood pressure causes harm to the heart and arteries, which can lead to serious health issues, such as heart attack, heart failure, stroke and kidney disease.  By that point, it may be hard for someone to ever fully recover-- hence the name, "silent killer." So how does your company benefit from identifying the signs of hypertension in your employees? Here are a couple FAQs:

 

How does this affect your company?

First, there's the cost of hypertension per occurrence: 

Copy of Blue Statistics Education Presentation (7)  

Second, due to the high risk that employees with hypertension are at for developing cardiovascular disease, there are usually additional affects on productivity:

Copy of Blue Statistics Education Presentation (4)

That equates to an average loss of 13 workdays per year, per employee.  Hypertension doesn't just cost your company in terms of healthcare costs, but productivity costs as well.  The sicker your population, the less productive your workforce.

 

What can you, as an employer, do about high blood pressure?

  • The first step is to test for it.  The only way to truly know if you have high blood pressure is to get checked regularly by a healthcare provider, who will likely use three elevated readings to confirm hypertension.  Onsite blood pressure screenings and other wellness initiatives can help with the early diagnosis, prevention, and management of hypertension. 
  • Educate your employees.  Once the screenings have helped you identify the employees who have hypertension, it's important to have a health professional meet with those individuals to review their results.  Educating employees on the modifiable behaviors that are driving their risk for hypertension, heart attack, stroke, etc., can help them see how healthy habits like exercising, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding tobacco can help them greatly reduce their risk.  
Blue Statistics Education Presentation (4)

Offering additional wellness benefits, such as weight loss challenges or smoking cessation programs, can also help raise awareness about blood pressure and encourage participants to reduce their risk. When lifestyle changes are not enough, medications are available to manage high blood pressure.  Nearly half of adults with high blood pressure do not take their medication correctly or are not prescribed any medication at all.  Having someone to hold an employee accountable, such as a health coach, can help encourage medication adherence.

In conclusion, without the awareness, prevention, and management of hypertension, your employees could face serious health risks and potentially cause your company extremely high healthcare costs.  Having tools in place such as onsite screenings and wellness initiatives to help identify the signs and symptoms of hypertension can provide education to your employees and bring awareness to underlying health conditions.