What is Cholesterol?

What exactly is Cholesterol and why is it a big deal? Well, WELCOA does a great job explaining it. As stated on their website, cholesterol is a fatty substance that is made in your liver and it is part of the outer coating of each of our cells. There are two types of cholesterol, LDL and HDL. LDL cholesterol is considered the “bad” cholesterol because it gets deposited in our blood vessels and forms fatty plaque buildup. HDL is considered the “good” cholesterol because it helps break up and remove the bad cholesterol from the blood stream. The problem is when plaque buildup becomes too thick. It causes all blood flow to stop and the plaque to burst open, leading to rapid damage to the heart or brain that is not always fixable.

The Cost of High Cholesterol

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 71 million Americans have high cholesterol and nearly two-thirds do not have it under control. While high cholesterol itself is not a disease, it can lead to serious health consequences, such as heart disease. A report commissioned by the American Heart Association found that in 2010, heart disease cost the U.S. $273 billion in direct medical costs, and it is projected this will reach $818.1 billion by 2030. On top of that, it was also reported that heart disease would cost employers $276 billion in lost productivity by 2030. The good news is high cholesterol is largely preventable and there are steps that can be taken to help lower employees’ cholesterol, which will benefit the health of employees and society as a whole.

Helping Employees Lower Their Cholesterol

Listed below are tips from The Benefits Guide on how employers can help their employees lower their cholesterol:

  1. Wellness Programs: Incorporating a wellness program that helps monitor cholesterol levels, offers health coaching, inspires physical activity and obesity reduction, and promotes tobacco cessation is one of the best steps you can take towards helping your employees take control of their health.
  2. A Culture of Health: Creating a workplace culture that encourages healthy habits is another great place to start. Consider providing healthy, low cholesterol food options in the break room and on cafeteria menus and encourage more movement throughout the day with walking meetings and taking the stairs.
  3. Education: Education is such a powerful tool. Use health fairs, workshops, or classes to educate your employees on how they can prevent and control high cholesterol.
  4. Health Benefits: Check your health benefits to make sure they include programs that help keep employees on prescribed medication and choose integrated health benefits for employee health plans. Also, consider providing annual eye exams and dental checks for chronic periodontitis, both can help identify high cholesterol.

Click here to view an infographic with more information from The Benefits Guide!

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