Local lifestyle columnists

Listen to your heart

By From page D6 | March 09, 2014

Though Valentine’s Day, along with February’s American Heart Month, has passed, Americans should still be thinking about their hearts. That’s because continual promotion of good heart health and awareness of heart disease is important.

Heart disease, which refers to several types of heart conditions, is the leading cause of death for both men and women in America. It results in roughly 600,000 deaths per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease in the United States and can lead to angina (chest pain), heart attack, heart failure and arrhythmias, according to the CDC. The main risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. There are also several other risk factors for heart disease, including having diabetes, being overweight or obese, poor diet, physical inactivity  and excessive use of alcohol,  according to the American Heart Association.

According to both the CDC and the American Heart Association, there are many things you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease. Remember to eat a healthy diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium. You should also exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, limit your alcohol use and avoid smoking.

Another great way to maintain or improve your heart health is to make sure you have the health coverage you need. Having access to health insurance allows you to get your cholesterol and blood pressure checked regularly, both of which are key in understanding your risk for heart disease. In addition, having access to health coverage allows you to access preventative care as well as timely treatment if you do develop heart disease.

According to the National Health Interview Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 7.3 million Americans with cardiovascular disease were uninsured before implementation of the Affordable Care Act. In addition, according to the American Heart Association, being uninsured puts people at greater risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Thankfully now that implementation of the Affordable Healthcare Act is well under way, you can get the health coverage you need to really keep your heart doing its best. Here in California, consumers who are uninsured now have access to health insurance through either Covered CA or expanded Medi-Cal. Those who purchase coverage through Covered CA may even have access to financial assistance, in addition to being able to choose between quality plans that cover the 10 essential health benefits.

In addition to new coverage options being made available under the Affordable Care Act, consumers can also no longer be denied health insurance because of pre-existing conditions such as high blood pressure or a congenital heart defect. This means that people who already have heart disease or risk factors for it can no longer be denied access to insurance because of these conditions.

For more information about what new coverage options may be available to you, go to www.coveredca.com. You can also visit your local community health center to find out more information about signing up for health coverage, as well as resources for keeping your heart healthy.

Whether you want to start eating healthier, exercising more, or getting enrolled into health insurance coverage, now is the perfect time to take the steps you need to keep your heart healthy!

Morgan Westfall is a Project Coordinator at the Community Clinic Consortium, a partner of Solano Coalition for Better Health.

Morgan Westfall


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