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Successful Business Strategies to Prevent Heart Disease and Stroke Toolkit

Collage of photos of men and women in the workplace.


Heart disease and stroke, the principal components of cardiovascular disease (CVD), are among the nation's leading causes of death and disability and the most expensive medical conditions for businesses.1,2 The good news is that employers take preventive action to improve worker health and productivity and save on health care costs.

In 2002, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) initiated the Heart–Healthy and Stroke–Free at Work project to identify effective interventions and approaches that can influence employers to buy prevention–related benefits for cardiovascular health (CVH). The Heart–Healthy and Stroke–Free at Work project produced evidence that certain health plan benefits and work site programs can improve the health of employees, prevent heart disease and stroke, and produce cost savings.

During Phase 1 of the Heart–Healthy and Stroke–Free at Work project, CDC conducted formative research to identify effective interventions and promising practices for preventing heart disease and stroke (with a focus on controlling high blood pressure and cholesterol) at the work site, through health plans, and in health care settings. This research included a literature review and analysis of CVH interventions. Interviews were also conducted with six employers/purchasers and three health plan providers that implemented promising practices with successful outcomes. The results of this research served as the basis for the following toolkit components: Reducing the Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke: A Six–Step Guide for Employers, and Evaluating Health Plan Benefits and Services to Promote Cardiovascular Health and Prevent Heart Disease and Stroke.

Phase 2 focused on developing the Heart–Healthy and Stroke–Free Toolkit of Successful Business Strategies to Prevent Heart Disease and Stroke. It is designed to assist State Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Programs (referred to in this guide as state programs) in making the business case to employers. The toolkit provides state programs with suggestions about which health benefits, services, and interventions can improve employee cardiovascular health, prevent heart disease and stroke, and reduce related costs.

The Role of State Programs in Work Site Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Benefits and Services

State programs focus on promoting policy, environmental, and system changes and on providing education to improve cardiovascular health and prevent heart disease and stroke in populations throughout the nation. To meet these goals, state programs partner with and seek to motivate those in leadership positions who make policy and environmental changes in health care settings, workplaces, schools, and the community. In the business community, state programs provide leadership by

  • Promoting the importance of comprehensive heart disease and stroke prevention programs at the state and regional levels, rather than approaching businesses one–on–one or providing direct services to work sites.
  • Working at the macro level (the highest level of change) through direct service organizations to provide technical assistance in program design and evaluation to businesses.
  • Disseminating best and promising practices that demonstrate successful work site policy and environmental changes that realize cost savings.
  • Establishing and coordinating partnerships with organizations that encourage businesses to implement heart disease and stroke prevention policies and system changes. (See Section IV for a complete list of macro–marketing strategies).

The Successful Business Strategies to Prevent Heart Disease and Stroke Toolkit provides information, materials, and tools that state programs can reference and distribute to businesses, primarily through employer and professional organizations. The toolkit also assists state programs in addressing these CVH priority areas:

  • Providing health care coverage for employees and their families that includes primary and secondary prevention services addressing heart disease and stroke, as well as rehabilitation services for heart attack and stroke survivors.
  • Assuring detection and follow–up services with employees at the work site to control high blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Promoting adequate cost coverage or reimbursement for prescription drugs for preventing heart disease and stroke.
  • Assuring implementation of policies that support employee training and education on signs and symptoms of a heart attack and stroke, the importance of calling 9–1–1, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) methods, and the use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs).

The toolkit also provides an ideal resource for state programs to collaborate with other chronic disease partners throughout the state in developing comprehensive CVH work site programs and cultivating “champions” who will promote these activities. Employers can contact other agencies and use other resources referenced in the toolkit for this purpose.

Download the Toolkit and it's Components

Toolkit Guide
The Guide will assist state programs to use the toolkit effectively.
PDF [1.2M]
The toolkit in its entirety.
PDF [939K]
A Six–Step Guide for Employers
Six steps to show employers how to reduce costs by investing in work site health promotion.
PDF [578K]
Power Point Presentation
A Power Point presentation for employers and business groups using the information in the Six–Step Guide.
PPT [21M]

PDF [2.3M] 508 compliant


  1. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preventing Heart Disease and Stroke: Addressing the Nation's Leading Killers. (CDC At–A–Glance Report) Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2005.
  2. American Heart Association. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics: 2006 Update. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association, 2005.

Other Resources