The Impact of Metabolic Syndrome in the Workplace? You may have heard about metabolic syndrome, a condition that more than 50 million Americans have been diagnosed with, but do you understand what it is and how it is affecting your cost as an employer?
What is Metabolic Syndrome? It is a condition that has become increasingly common in the United States and is characterized by a cluster of risk factors. When these risk factors occur together, it increases a person’s risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. These risk factors include:
▪ Elevated blood pressure
▪ Insulin resistance or glucose intolerance
▪ Abnormal cholesterol levels (low HDL and/or high Triglycerides)
▪ Excess visceral fat, or body fat around the waist or abdomen
Why is Metabolic Syndrome So Costly to the Employer? It is a serious health condition that affects about 34 percent of adults and is linked to increased absenteeism and poorer health status, according to a study in the October, 2016 Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The combination of these health risks places these employees at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and diseases related to fatty buildups in artery walls.
▪ According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999 to 2000 and NHANES 2001 to 2002, working-age individuals with metabolic syndrome had significantly higher medical costs compared to those without metabolic syndrome: $626 per member per month (PMPM) for those with metabolic syndrome compared to $367 PMPM for those without metabolic syndrome. Of the $259 excess medical cost for individuals with metabolic syndrome, $46 is because of additional cardiovascular events and $213 is because of the expense of higher prevalence of co-morbidities, particularly cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
▪ These findings show that most cardiovascular cost and risk borne by employers is concentrated in the one-third of the working-age population with metabolic syndrome.
What can employers do to help employees to improve their health status and reduce their risk (and therefore their cost)? Employers should also think about prevention, as well as treatment. While it is difficult to pinpoint an exact cause for the group of conditions existing simultaneously, research indicates that metabolic syndrome is linked to a person’s metabolism, and possibly to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance interferes with the body processes. It can raise triglyceride level and other blood fat levels, interfere with kidney function and raise blood pressure. Having just one of these conditions cannot be diagnosed as metabolic syndrome, but it can certainly increase risk of this serious disease. If an individual has three or more of these conditions, their health risks are greater.
Written By Carrie Company