This month at Castlight, we’ve been focused on heart health — not because anyone broke our hearts on Valentine’s Day, but because February is American Heart Month.
Many people may know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Beyond this, the total annual costs for heart disease in the U.S. are $316 billion, including treatment costs and lost productivity. It’s important to understand where this comes from and what can be done to help reduce the impact of heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions on many people’s lives.
That’s why at Castlight, we ensure employers have the resources they need to understand how heart health affects their workforce, and employees have the tools they need to stay healthy well beyond American Heart Month. Fortunately we’ve got the right partner to help us do so, Livongo, which is redesigning chronic condition management through its innovative digital programs.
One of the major risk factors in developing heart disease is hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure. Unfortunately, 46 percent of Americans have hypertension, and this number keeps rising. Another major risk factor for heart disease is diabetes, and 73 percent of American adults diagnosed with diabetes also suffer from high blood pressure. These two chronic conditions coupled together greatly increase an individual’s risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
As Dr. Jennifer Schneider, Chief Medical Officer at Livongo, explains,
“It’s often thought that the biggest part of diabetes management is controlling one’s blood sugar, but the true trifecta of diabetes management is controlling: blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol.”
Fortunately, there are a number of behavior changes, such as weight loss, diet, and exercise, as well as clinical actions employees can take to get these conditions under control.
“Like Castlight, we believe we can empower people to take control of their own healthcare through data-driven insights, real-time consumer engagement, and a personalized experience. Our diabetes and blood pressure solutions drive healthy behavior change by delivering users the right information, tools, and support at the right time,” said Jesse Bridgewater, Vice President of Data Science at Livongo.
Beyond the costs from those who develop heart disease – high blood pressure and diabetes have high costs of their own. High blood pressure accounts for $131 billion per year in healthcare costs. And, diabetes, despite only affecting 10 percent of the population, costs about $176 billion in direct medical costs nationally. With such a high price tag, employers must prioritize helping their employees navigate to the chronic disease care and provide the effective management solutions they need. Livongo is the first digital health company focused on managing both diabetes and high blood pressure.
“By coupling our diabetes and high blood pressure programs, we’ve made it easier than ever before for employers to tackle two of their biggest healthcare concerns,” said Jim Pursley, Chief Commercial Officer at Livongo. ”Employers can now offer chronic condition management programs that are proven to deliver better health and financial outcomes, while creating a better experience for all of their employees and dependents with chronic conditions.”
At Castlight, we pride ourselves on making health benefits as easy as humanly possible for our employer customers, and Livongo helps us do just that. By integrating Livongo into our health navigation platform, we provide employers the insights and tools needed to address high blood pressure and diabetes among their employee population. As a result, we can deliver improved results for both employers and employees feeling the health and cost consequences of these interconnected chronic conditions.
As American Heart Month wraps up, it’s a great time for employers to check the pulse of their employee health benefits, to make sure they offer the chronic condition benefits employees need.