February is American Heart Month: Time to get heart smart

February is American Heart Month: Time to get heart smart

February 5, 2020
heart healthIf you want to protect your brain, get busy protecting your heart, says the American Heart Association (AHA). Behaviors that boost your heart health, such as exercise and healthy eating habits, also contribute to good brain health.

The heart is an amazing machine, and the AHA has designated February as American Heart Month to bring awareness to the steps you can take to keep it in top condition. So, there’s no better time than now to get smart about your heart.
 
National Wear Red Day is Friday, February 7, 2020! Wear the powerful color of red on February 7 to help raise awareness about heart health during American Heart Month.

Identify your risk factors

Fitness begins with awareness. Cardiovascular disease–heart disease–is the leading cause of death for women and men in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Chest pain or a heart attack can happen when too much fat and cholesterol block blood flow to the heart.

Many factors increase your risk for heart disease, particularly:
  • high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes,
  • smoking, vaping and other tobacco use,
  • being overweight or obese and
  • not getting enough exercise.
To identify your risk factors, complete an online health risk assessment (HRA) through your Texas Employees Group Benefits Program (GBP) health plan–at no cost to yourself. The HRA can quickly show if you are at risk for things like heart attack, diabetes and stroke. After you finish answering the questions in the online HRA, you’ll get a personal action plan and recommendations to help you address any health risks your HRA has identified.

Schedule a checkup

heartbeatMake an appointment with your doctor for a checkup–and work together to help achieve your heart health goal. Be sure to talk to your doctor about your diet and physical activity. Check on your blood pressure and cholesterol, heart rate, blood sugar and body mass index. Ask questions about your chances of developing heart disease and ways to lower your risk.

If you have not yet chosen a doctor, you can find one by clicking on your GBP health plan’s Find a Provider link below:
Live well today for a healthier tomorrow! –the American Heart Association  

Take action to lower your risks

In addition to following your doctor’s recommendations, you can also make changes on your own that address your heart disease risk factors, says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Consider taking the following common preventive measures to help keep your heart and brain healthy:
  • Maintain a healthy diet and weight.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.
  • Avoid or limit caffeine, alcohol and smoking.
  • Use stress management techniques like deep breathing exercises to help reduce your blood pressure and heart rate.  

Resources to go tobacco-free

If you’re ready to kick the tobacco habit, take advantage of the tobacco cessation programs and resources offered through your GBP health plan: View the ERS Tobacco Policy and Certification webpage to learn about state-mandated certification requirements for tobacco use and more resources to help you quit.

Additional resources

To learn more about heart health–including common heart attack symptoms–check out “Good heart health” by OptumRx in the HealthSelectSM Prescription Drug Program education information section. Or, call OptumRx at (855) 828-9834 (TTY: 711).