Healthy Blog

LDL and HDL Explained – Can Workplace Cholesterol Tests Boost Productivity?

Monday, August 08, 2016

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that the body produces from high-fat foods in your diet. There are two types of cholesterol present in blood - LDL bad cholesterol and HDL good cholesterol.  Too much LDL bad cholesterol in the blood causes heart diseases like angina, heart attack and stroke.

Function of cholesterol

Cholesterol is carried around the body by the blood flowing through your veins. If you eat too many high-fat foods LDL cholesterol builds up inside your veins where it sticks to the walls and prevents sufficient blood getting to your heart.  The heart needs a strong blood flow to bring it the oxygen it needs to work properly.

HDL cholesterol is good because it carries bad cholesterol away from the body to be broken down in the liver or passed out as waste matter.

Risks linked to high cholesterol

High levels of bad LDL cholesterol block arteries and starve the heart, brain and body of oxygen.  If left untreated this leads to hardening of the arteries making them brittle and prone to tears.  A ruptured artery causes internal bleeding.  If a piece of hard cholesterol breaks off from the artery wall it can cause a blood clot that completely blocks off the blood flow, causing sudden heart attack or stroke.

Roughly 50% of adult Australians have a blood cholesterol level above the safe level of 5.00 mmols per litre.  This makes high blood cholesterol a major health concern in Australia and a significant cause of lost productivity – even though cholesterol levels can easily be checked by a simple blood test in the workplace.

Ill-health and workplace productivity

Given that a high proportion of Australian workers are already suffering from the symptoms caused by undiagnosed high cholesterol levels, it’s obvious that in many workplaces productivity is lower than it could be.  Many studies have shown that employees who attend work with even minor medical symptoms don’t perform as well as their healthier co-workers.

However, if you bring in an ergonomics consultant to provide workplace health screening days you can identify employees with undiagnosed/untreated high cholesterol, high blood pressure or obesity whose job performance may be below par.  In addition, you can arrange for potential employees to have important pre-employment health checks.

Promoting a healthy lifestyle

Fortunately, once high cholesterol has been identified, workers can consult their GP for suitable medication to treat the condition.  As lifestyle changes are extremely important in reducing cholesterol, an ergonomics consultancy can also provide important health education sessions.  These include advice about healthy eating; help with giving up smoking and advice on how to fit more physical activity into a daily routine.   

Employees respond positively to health advice provided at work and often help each other to reach their health goals.  For the employer, there are many short and long term advantages to be gained from providing periodic medical assessments.  Absenteeism for ill-health reduces and job performance increases when workers get appropriate medical treatment and take more interest in getting fit.


Furthermore, employer led health initiatives are viewed as an excellent job ‘perk’ by workers and contribute much to their job satisfaction.  This enhances job performance and attracts well qualified job candidates. 

Health monitoring provided by an ergonomics consultant are a very cost-effective way to invest in your business because the reduced sick leave, high staff retention and increased productivity are just what the doctor ordered!