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ACCIONA takes its employees’ health to heart

04/29/2009

The company extends the scope of its workplace health policy to the prevention of heart disease, in an event presided by José Manuel Entrecanales and featuring an address by the internationally acclaimed cardiologist, Valentín Fuster.

ACCIONA’s Chairman and CEO is convinced that, "our commitment to the wellbeing of our team of professionals, just like our commitment to sustainability, has to be evident in the day-to-day doings of our people and across the entire organization".

The company extends the scope of its workplace health policy to the prevention of heart disease, in an event presided by José Manuel Entrecanales and featuring an address by the internationally acclaimed cardiologist, Valentín Fuster.

ACCIONA’s Chairman and CEO is convinced that, "our commitment to the wellbeing of our team of professionals, just like our commitment to sustainability, has to be evident in the day-to-day doings of our people and across the entire organization".

José Manuel Entrecanales and Valentín FusterDoes the way we work have an effect – be it good or bad - on our heart? ACCIONA has taken its workplace health policy a step forward by declaring war on heart disease in the working environment. Heart disease, one of the developed world’s major health threats, is responsible for nearly one in five deaths worldwide. In Spain alone it accounts for €7bn euros in health spending. Dr. Valentín Fuster, Scientific Chairman of Spain’s National Cardiovascular Research Centre (CNIC) and Director of the Mount Sinai Cardiovascular Institute (Mount Sinai Hospital, New York) warned of the need to take steps to avoid heart disease. In Dr. Fuster’s view, "in ten years’ time 25% of Spaniards with more than two risk factors will suffer a heart attack". According to the eminent cardiologist, risk factors include obesity, high blood pressure, smoking and being aged over 55.

Dr. Fuster’s warnings came in a special one day event, "Habits for avoiding heart disease", organised jointly by ACCIONA, the Instituto Madrileño de Formación (Madrid Training Institute) and the CNIC, with a threefold objective: to celebrate WHO World Health Day, to give thrust to the concept of “Workplace Medicine” and to raise awareness among ACCIONA employees of the importance of preventing cardiovascular disease.

ACCIONA Chairman and CEO, José Manuel Entrecanales, involved himself personally in the organization and celebration of the event. Mr. Entrecanales is also chairman of the Pro CNIC Foundation, which channels private support for the CNIC, which is a benchmark for cutting-edge research in the field of cardiovascular complaints.

The event’s list of top-flight guest speakers also included Dr. Pilar Alfranca, Director of ACCIONA’s Department of Workplace Health and Safety. Other speakers included Dr. Dulce María Puget, Director of Workplace Medicine at ASEPEYO - a mutual health insurer - and Dr. José Antonio Gómez, Director of Workplace Medicine at mutual health insurance firm FREMAP. Doctors Puget and Gómez detailed the contribution that their respective companies have made to the fight against health disease in the working environment. All the guest speakers set out to provide a multidisciplinary, enlightening and encouraging view of the challenges that need to be met, in an attempt to give thrust to efforts to stop heart disease.

Dr. Alfranca stressed the need to introduce an adequate and efficient prevention system in the company, to assign sufficient human and material resources and, above all, to encourage involvement at every level of the organisation. She also emphasized the importance of raising awareness among ACCIONA’s entire 35, 000-strong workforce, particularly at management level. "If managers get involved – and I know from personal experience that they do – they’ll have a multiplicatory effect on prevention, and staff across the company will be aware of it. Indeed, a clear example of this is the fact that we’re here today taking part in this special event!" said Dr. Alfranca.

Latest advances in cardiovascular research

Dr. Valentín Fuster, who heads a recently created US Administration-sponsored committee for worldwide heart disease prevention, stressed that "it’s wrong to think that cardiovascular complaints are something you find only in developed nations; in actual fact, 80% of heart attacks take place in countries with a low or medium level of development".

Dr. Fuster lists seven risk factors for cardiovascular disease:

  • Obesity.
  • High blood pressure.
  • High cholesterol levels.
  • High sugar levels in blood.
  • Smoking.
  • Lack of (or little) regular exercise.
  • Age: from 55 onwards for men and 60 for women.

Ninety-five percent of people who suffer heart attacks have one or two of these factors. "It’s important to bear in mind that in Spain one out of every four people with more tan two risk factors will suffer a heart attack some time in the next ten years", warns Dr. Fuster.

The Scientific Chairman of the CNIC went over new research methods in the field of cardiovascular disease: diagnosis through image scanning, study of genetic factors that can contribute to early detection of disease, and prevention in general which, Dr. Fuster believes, "works out far cheaper than treating the disease once it has actually appeared". Dr. Fuster also pointed out some of the cardiovascular disease-related projects currently in place in a number of countries: one for 6,000 schoolchildren in Colombia, dealing with healthy habits; a programme focused on cultural habits on the island of Granada; changes in the legal framework in developed nations to slow down smoking and passive smoking; prevention schemes in poor countries… The world-acclaimed specialist placed particular emphasis on the need to educate future generations to meet the challenge of cardiovascular disease in the future and offered several recommendations to help avoid this type of health complaint, from. Dr. Fuster’s tips covered eating habits, regular exercise and mental balance, something which is particularly necessary during a long day’s work.

He recommended the following healthy habits as potent allies in the fight against heart disease:

  • A healthy diet. Must be balanced in its composition and intake.
  • Regular blood pressure checks. Keep blood pressure below 120 mmHg (millimetres of mercury).
  • Regular checks for Diabetes.
  • Keep a close eye on cholesterol levels. Eat in moderation and be particularly careful with food containing cholesterol (e.g. just two eggs a week).
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Get regular exercise: 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
  • Get regular medical check-ups.
  • Make efforts to achieve mental balance.

Dr. Fuster placed particular emphasis on this last point and urged people to find time for reflection, to meditate on their own talent, to transmit a positive attitude to the people around them and to show solidarity when it comes to sharing knowledge and experience with others.

The special event was part of ACCIONA’s ongoing efforts in Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility. ACCIONA is a component of the Dow Jones Sustainability indices and a patron of the Pro CNIC Foundation, which was created in 2005 with the aim of fostering excellence in cardiovascular research in Spain through the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares (National Institute for Cardiovascular Research. Through its Board of Trustees, companies not only contribute economically but are also active in decision-making and planning processes. That makes the Foundation a pillar of the CNIC’s ground-breaking research model, led by Dr. Valentín Fuster. Today, the Pro CNIC Foundation is a prime example of scientific patronage, and points the way towards how the private and public sectors can work together.

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