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The four pillars of better cardiometabolic health

Written by Dr. Tejaswi Kompala MD, Chief Strategy Director for Cardiometabolic Conditions, Teladoc Health

Incremental improvements in nutrition, activity, sleep and stress create better cardiometabolic health and can help prevent cardiometabolic diseases. 

I spend much of my day talking about cardiometabolic disease with clients at Teladoc Health and with patients in my clinic. This focus is understandable; cardiometabolic diseases—high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes—are extremely prevalent in our country and have a major impact on people’s lives and on plan sponsors’ healthcare costs.

As an endocrinologist, my aim is to shift the conversation from cardiometabolic disease to cardiometabolic health. This distinction is more than semantics. In shifting the focus and mindset to cardiometabolic health, we broaden the spectrum of care—from management of cardiometabolic diseases to prevention of and improved outcomes for people with a cardiometabolic disease.

With this broader view comes a refreshed approach to fostering cardiometabolic health and a call to move beyond traditional interventions that just manage the disease. For more people to reach a state of better cardiometabolic health, they need support that addresses the entire spectrum.

A foundation for better cardiometabolic health: four pillars

Let’s take a step back and look at what impacts a person’s overall health. About 30% of a person’s health outcomes are related to four core health behaviors: nutrition, activity, sleep and stress management.

There are other important factors as well, such as physical environment, socioeconomic status and clinical care. However, incremental improvements in the four health behaviors can yield significant returns on preventing cardiometabolic disease or improving clinical outcomes in people who have cardiometabolic disease.

Health behaviors for better outcomes

On an individual level, changing health behaviors can be difficult. That’s why it’s important to support people around all four interrelated behaviors to achieve better outcomes.

Teladoc Health has years of experience helping people bridge the gap between intention and action for all four health behaviors, and we continue to invest in the best ways to activate a person’s healthiest intentions to create lasting changes.

  • Nutrition: Diets should incorporate high-quality foods and be personalized in a way that makes eating healthy an enjoyable and sustainable experience. Preferences, cultural factors and more must be considered to ensure sustainability for the long term.
  • Activity: It’s become easier in our society to live a sedentary life. Breaking up stretches of sitting is critical to better health. Small, repeated ‘exercise snacks’ meaningfully contribute to physical activity goals. With digital programs that consider mindset and support physical activity tracking, there are opportunities to help motivate people to be more active and achieve better outcomes.
  • Sleep: Sleep is foundational to overall health, but studies also show it can specifically benefit cardiometabolic health. Increasing sleep has been shown to reduce desire for high-calorie foods and improve blood sugar regulation. However, sleep challenges are incredibly common, with 30% of Americans reporting difficulty sleeping. Helping people achieve better sleep hygiene with self-guided aids and other interventions can yield many positive returns with regard to cardiometabolic health.  
  • Stress management: High levels of stress, whether from a diagnosed mental health condition or just daily life stress, play a significant role in our cardiometabolic health. A quarter of people with type 2 diabetes are diagnosed with depression, and one in five are diagnosed with anxiety. Stress management is only one part of mental health, but it’s critical that people are supported with healthy stress management techniques not only for their mental health, but also for their cardiometabolic health.

Supporting members in these four areas has been the core of Teladoc Health chronic care programs for years and will continue to be. As we expand our solutions to support clients in developing a strategy for GLP-1 medications, health behaviors are as important as ever to helping our members achieve better cardiometabolic health.

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