Get With the Program

September 26th is World Heart Day

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

Your health begins with your attitude. Get with the program and live a better, healthier life.

Each year, more than 17 million people die from cardiovascular disease, mainly heart disease and stroke, making it the world’s leading cause of death.1

Workplace Wellness: Take Responsibility for Your Own Heart Health

This year marks the 10 year anniversary of celebrating World Heart Day. In 2000, the World Heart Federation, a non-governmental organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, created the annual World Heart Day campaign to increase public awareness about the threat of heart disease and stroke.

The theme of the 2010 World Heart Day is "Workplace Wellness: Take Responsibility for Your Own Heart Health." There are simple ways to foster and promote healthy lifestyles in general and around the workplace.

Here are things that an individual can do to live a healthy lifestyle.2

Engaging in healthy behaviors helps to control certain risk factors such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and prevent heart disease and stroke.

For Employers

If you are an employer, here are things you can do to build a healthier workplace for your employees:

High Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

  • Provide free or subsidized blood pressure screening and feedback and clinical referral when appropriate.
  • Provide individual lifestyle counseling for those with high blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Provide educational information that addresses the risks of high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol.
  • Provide free seminars, workshops, and lifestyle self-management programs to help individuals control their blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Set up blood pressure monitoring devices at key places in the work site to help individuals monitor their blood pressure.
  • Reduce or eliminate employee out-of-pocket costs for blood pressure and cholesterol control medications.


  • Provide employees with food preparation and storage facilities such as a microwave oven, sink, refrigerator, or kitchen.
  • Provide places to purchase healthy and low-cost food and beverages (e.g., vending machines, cafeterias, or snack bars, onsite or nearby farmers market).
  • Identify healthy food choices with signs or menu labeling near vending machines, cafeterias, or snack bars.
  • Have a written policy making healthy food choices available during meetings when food is served.
  • Provide educational information, classes, and lifestyle management programs to provide tools on healthy eating.

Weight Management

  • Provide educational information (e.g., brochures, videos, posters, pamphlets, newsletters) that addresses the risks of overweight or obesity.
  • Provide educational seminars, workshops, or classes related to weight management.
  • Provide free or subsidized lifestyle counseling and self-management programs that include advice or tools on weight management.

Physical Activity

  • Provide an exercise facility on-site, or subsidize or discount the cost of onsite or offsite exercise facilities.
  • Post signs at elevators, stairwell entrances and exits, and other key locations that encourage employees to use the stairs.
  • Provide environmental supports for recreation or exercise, (e.g., walking paths, organized walking clubs), a shower, and changing facility.
  • Provide free fitness assessment and follow-up exercise counseling.
  • Provide educational information, classes, seminars, and programs to help employees establish a self-tailored physical activity program.

Tobacco Control

  • Have a written policy banning smoking and tobacco use at the workplace.
  • Refer smokers to a state or other tobacco cessation telephone quit line (e.g., 1-800-QUIT NOW).
  • Provide incentives for being a non-smoker (e.g., discounts on health insurance, increases in disability payments, additional life insurance).
  • Prohibit the sale of tobacco products on company property (e.g., in vending machines or by vendors).
  • Provide health insurance coverage to reduce or eliminate employee costs for FDA-approved cessation medications, include nicotine replacement products.
  • Provide free tobacco cessation programs and counseling.

Resources for Employers

  • A Purchaser's Guide to Clinical Preventive Services: Moving Science into Coverage
    This is an important resource on preventive services. Developed in collaboration with the National Business Group on Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Purchaser's Guide translates clinical guidelines and medical evidence, providing employers with the information they need to select, define, and implement preventive medical benefits.
  • Successful Business Strategies to Prevent Heart Disease and Stroke Toolkit
    This CDC toolkit provides an ideal resource for state programs to collaborate with business coalitions and employers in developing cardiovascular health work site programs.
  • Workplace Health Promotion
    This site provides a CDC toolkit for workplace health promotion activities. It provides information and guidance to practitioners interested in establishing or enhancing workplace health and safety programs.


Activities organized by members and partners of the World Heart Federation include workplace campaigns, public talks, concerts, and sporting events. The national member organizations in the United States are the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association.

Information about World Heart Day and the World Heart Federation.

For additional information please contact the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at
CDC funds heart disease and stroke prevention programs in 41 states and the District of Columbia. Read additional information about these programs.


Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 24, 2010