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Taking care of your heart with TRICARE benefits

February is nationally recognized as American Heart Month, a time for the Department of Defense community to show its love for healthy living. February is nationally recognized as American Heart Month, a time for the Department of Defense community to show its love for healthy living.

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Are you ready for Heart Health Month? This is the time to listen to – and take care of – your heart. You can do so by getting familiar with the risk factors of heart disease and taking action to reduce your risk.

One simple way to lower your risk for heart disease is to visit your doctor regularly. TRICARE covers cardiovascular disease screenings, including blood pressure and cholesterol checks. For men age 65 to 75 who have ever smoked, TRICARE covers a one-time abdominal aortic aneurysm screening to screen for cardiovascular disease. During a Health Promotion and Disease Prevention exam, TRICARE also covers Type 2 diabetes screening for those who have high blood pressure and adults between the ages of 40 and 70 who are overweight or obese. Getting preventive screenings now could save your life tomorrow.

What is Heart Disease?

Heart disease is the term used to refer to several types of problems affecting the heart. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., responsible for 610,000 deaths per year. Coronary artery disease, which is caused by plaque buildup in the heart’s blood vessels, is the most common type of heart disease and causes most heart attacks. You can also learn more about heart health by visiting the CDC website.

Every year, nearly 800,000 Americans have a heart attack. It’s important to know the warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack. If you think you’re having a heart attack, waiting to get help can cause damage to your heart and may be life-threatening. Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately. If you aren’t sure how TRICARE covers emergency care or urgent care, learn the difference and the rules for your TRICARE plan. 

Heart Disease Risk Factors

You can’t change some risk factors, such as age and family history. But there are some risk factors you can do something about, including: 

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • High glucose levels
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes

Take Command of Your Health

You can decrease your risk for developing heart disease. During Heart Health Month, pay attention to your heart and give it the care it deserves. Start by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol, and giving up smoking. Your doctor can also help you determine your level of risk and suggest changes to help improve your heart health. Remember, cardiovascular disease screenings are part of your TRICARE benefit. Don’t delay seeing your doctor. 

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Absolute and Relative Morbidity Burdens Attributable to Various Illnesses and Injuries, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016

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Did you know  … ? In 2016, essential hypertension accounted for 52,586 encounters for health care among 29,612 active component service members in the U.S. Armed Forces. Of all cardiovascular diseases, essential hypertension is by far the most common specific condition diagnosed among active duty service members. Untreated hypertension increases the risks of subsequent ischemic heart disease (heart attack), cerebrovascular disease (stroke), and kidney failure. CHART: Healthcare burdens attributable to cardiovascular diseases, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016 Major condition: •	For all other cardiovascular the number of medical encounters was 70,781, Rank 29, number of individuals affected was 35,794 with a rank of 30. The number of bed days was 4,285 with a rank of 21. •	For essential hypertension the number of medical encounters was 52,586, rank 35, number of individuals affected was 29,612 with a rank of 35. The number of bed days was 151 with a rank of 86. •	For cerebrovascular disease the number of medical encounters was 7,772, rank 79, number of individuals affected was 1,708, with a rank of 96. The number of bed days was 2,107 with a rank of 32. •	For ischemic heart disease the number of medical encounters was 6,629, rank 83, number of individuals affected 2,399 with a rank of 87. The number of bed days was 1,140 with a rank of 42. •	For inflammatory the number of medical encounters was 2,221, rank 106, number of individuals affected 1,302 with a rank of 97. The number of bed days was 297 with a rank of 72. •	For rheumatic heart disease the number of medical encounters was 319, rank 125, number of individuals affected 261, with a rank of 121. The number of bed days was 2 with a rank of 133. Learn more about healthcare burdens attributable to various diseases and injuries by visiting Health.mil/MSMRArchives. #LoveYourHeart Infogaphic graphic features transparent graphic of a man’s heart illuminated within his chest.

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