Top 5 Programming Ideas for Heart Health Month

                                                                          Toni Sperlbaum                                                                                           VP of Sales and Marketing


The American Heart Association (AHA) states that 1 in 3 women will die from a heart related incident.  They also are 11% less likely to receive bystander CPR than their male counterparts.  February is Heart Health Month, with “Go Red For Women” being the AHA’s movement to raise awareness of heart disease in women.

February’s focus provides a great opportunity for organizations to promote heart health to both their male and female employees. There are MANY ways for you to do this, most free or low cost. Here are our top 3

  1. Promote and Celebrate National Go Red for Women Day (Friday, February 1)
    Have a photo contest and encourage your staff to wear red! You can even have awards for best red accessories, most red overall, best decorated workspace, and more.  Don’t forget to post your #GoRed photos on your organization’s social media pages and @Health Plan Advocate. We will feature your organization on our sites too!  What a FUN way to show your customers and employees your commitment to wellness.
  2. Host a Lunch & Learn on Heart Disease
    There are many organizations (HPA included!) who can do an educational seminar on preventing heart disease and learning the signs of a heart attack. There are also a variety of CPR and AED classes available through organizations like The American Red Cross that could save a life.  Also consider hosting free and open blood pressure checks for your employees.  Education is essential!
  3. Host a Heart Healthy Potluck:
    Red foods, healthy foods, sugar free beverages and healthier desserts. Decorate the table with hearts and don’t forget the red plates and cups!  The AHA’s Heart Check Recipe Guidelines would be perfect to send out as a guide for what is considered healthy.
  4. Heart Healthy Testimonials:
    Do a call for testimonials from your workforce. Is anyone a heart disease survivor who is willing to tell their story? Celebrate their life!  Has anyone made heart healthy changes? Lost weight, stopped smoking, ran a race, or similar?  Feature them!  We learn best from others’ experiences and we get inspired by their successes.  Feature these stories in a newsletter, on your intranet, on a cork board in the break room, an Eboard, etc.  Better yet, if your CEO or executive and middle leaders have stories, focus on them.  Middle and upper management’s involvement in wellness is essential to your program’s success.  You can even have a photo contest of their heart healthy activities!
  5. Heart Healthy Scavenger Hunt:
    Around the lunch hour, come up with a quiz of 10 questions and post the answers somewhere throughout your facility so they have to walk around and search for the answers to your quiz, while getting some steps in! The quiz can consist of questions like “#1. What is a healthy blood pressure level?” and they have to find the “#1” posted on a wall or on the floor somewhere with the answer of “<120/80”. You can find more helpful stats here.

Take advantage of the opportunity (you have ALL of February to do it!). Just a little bit of planning ahead can get your employees excited and having FUN all while learning and bringing awareness to the dangers of heart disease.

 

 

January: National Blood Donor Month

Todd Freitag                                                                                     Sales/Wellness Coordinator


January is national Blood Donor Month, and it just so happens to be the time of the year we give blood less. Blood donations typically drop off during and immediately after the winter holidays, which makes January a critical time for the American Red Cross. The Red Cross needs to collect more than 13,000 donations every day to keep the blood supply ready and available to meet the needs of about 2,600 hospitals, clinics and cancer centers across the country.

National Blood Donor Month has been observed in January since 1970 with the goal of increasing blood and platelet donations during winter – one of the most difficult times of year to collect enough blood products to meet patient needs. During the holidays and the end of the year, we all become overwhelmed with holiday parties, visiting friends, shopping, wrapping up end of the year deadlines and personal goals; not allowing time to donate. Not only do busy schedules play a role, but Mother Nature herself can wreak havoc on times of donation, forcing cancellations of many blood drives. We like to think that during the holidays, we are all taking breaks to relax and unwind, but those in need of blood and platelet donations are in need no matter what time of year.

Every two seconds of every day, someone needs blood. The reason to donate is simple…it helps save lives. Blood is essential to life for several important reasons including the fact that blood circulates through our body and delivers essential substances like oxygen and nutrients to the body’s cells. It also transports metabolic waste products away from those same cells. But did you know that donating blood has it’s health benefits for the donor?

  • Blood donation helps in lowering the risk of cancer. By donating blood the iron stores in the body are maintained at healthy levels. A reduction in the iron level in the body is linked with low cancer risk.
  • Reduced risk of hemochromatosis; a health condition that arises due to excess absorption of iron by the body. This may be inherited or may be caused due to alcoholism, anemia or other disorders. Regular blood donation may help in reducing iron overload.
  • Regular blood donation reduces the weight of the donors. This is helpful to those who are obese and are at higher risk of cardiovascular diseases and other health disorders.
  • After donating blood, the body works to replenish the blood loss. This stimulates the production of new blood cells and in turn, helps in maintaining good health.

Before you donate, a health professional will ask about your current and past health, including some very personal questions, to make sure that you can donate. You will be asked these questions every time you give blood, because the list of who can give blood may change, or your health may change. Having a long-term illness, such as diabetes, doesn’t mean you can’t donate. You may be able to give blood if your health problem is under control. But you shouldn’t donate blood if you feel like you’re getting a cold or the flu.