Businesses and government urged to create healthier workplaces to reduce the Rrsk of heart disease and stroke

(PresseBox) ( Geneva, Switzerland, )
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- World Economic Forum, World Heart Federation and World Health Organization call for healthier workplaces
- World Heart Day urges action against heart disease and stroke: the world's leading causes of death
- More on Forum's Working Towards Wellness Initiative at: http://www.weforum.org/Wellness

In the lead up to World Heart Day on 27 September, the World Economic Forum, the World Heart Federation and the World Health Organization have joined forces to call on governments, employers and workers around the world to make workplaces healthier. Over 17.2 million people worldwide die annually from heart disease and stroke - the world's leading causes of death. Workplace wellness programmes that encourage healthy diets, physical activity and restrictions on tobacco use show they are a cost-effective way to save lives and improve productivity.

"The World Economic Forum has identified chronic diseases as a major global threat for human lives and for economic growth and development over the coming 10 years," said Professor Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum. "Some of the world's leading companies, Members of the World Economic Forum, have ongoing workplace wellness programmes. In addition to improving health and well-being, this also makes good business sense, given that productivity losses due to chronic diseases have been estimated to be four times greater than the cost of their prevention or treatment."

"At a time when governments and business leaders are devoting considerable amounts of energy, and billions of dollars, to improve the health of global financial systems, attention should also be directed to the health of the workforce", said Professor Pekka Puska, President of the World Heart Federation. Professor Puska will officially launch World Heart Day in Abuja, Nigeria, where he will join with community leaders and health professionals to discuss the prevention and control of heart disease, stroke and diabetes during a three-day, all-Africa conference.

"There is still a widespread misconception that heart disease and stroke are "rich country" problems," said Dr Fiona Adshead, Director, Department of Chronic Diseases and Health Promotion, the World Health Organization. "In fact, over 80% of deaths from cardiovascular disease occur in low- and middle-income countries. We need a worldwide effort if we are to have a significant impact."

Workplaces are an ideal setting to encourage healthy lifestyles. Most people spend over one-half their waking hours at work. This year's call is to "Work with Heart". Small changes, such as bans on smoking, making more fruit and vegetables available at canteens, and encouraging workers to incorporate physical activity into their daily routine, can make a big difference in terms of better health. These measures help prevent not just heart disease and stroke, but also other chronic disease such as diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory disease, which together cause 60% of all deaths worldwide.

There are also substantial benefits for employers, including increased productivity, up to 20% fewer sick days, lower medical costs, improved morale and corporate image, and enhanced staff retention.
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