The power of prevention: Understanding heart health.
Did you know heart disease kills more people in the United States than any other disease? According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 695,000 people in the United States died from heart disease in 2021— that's 1 in every 5 deaths1.
By making cardiovascular health a priority, you may experience increased energy, an improved mood, lowered stress, and a reduced risk of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association2. With some simple lifestyle changes, regular checkups, and by making the most of your Surest health plan, you may strengthen your heart and add years to your life.
The power of prevention and understanding heart health
Your heart is responsible for pumping blood throughout your body and providing oxygen and nutrients to your organs and tissues. Evaluating your cardiovascular health is one first step you could take in prioritizing your heart health. It may seem simple, but by doing the following, you may be able to make a big difference to the health of your heart3:
- Exercise regularly
- Eat healthy foods
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Check your blood pressure and cholesterol regularly
- Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption
- Practice stress management techniques
Being proactive and taking steps to improve your heart health is an investment in yourself. According to the AHA, if you have a pre-existing condition, you should work with your chosen health care provider to help manage your condition. Surest is designed to give you the tools to support you in finding the most effective and affordable care for your health challenges, including pre-existing conditions.
Make healthy choices to improve your cardiovascular health
One way to improve cardiovascular health is to exercise regularly. Exercise not only helps to strengthen your heart, but it also helps to reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Aim for around 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise, like walking, jogging, biking, or swimming. Lifting weights and building muscle is also a great way to improve your overall health, as reported by the Mayo Clinic4.
Additionally, making healthy food choices can improve your cardiovascular health. According to Just Heart, try to make it a goal to incorporate fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats into your diet. Don't forget to manage your stress levels and make sure to get plenty of good sleep, as both can have a significant impact on your heart health.
Depending on factors like your age and family history, you should also start receiving regular screenings for blood pressure and cholesterol level — two important indicators of cardiovascular disease. Taking preventive steps now is an effective way to reduce your risk of a heart attack, stroke, or heart disease.
With heart disease consistently a leading cause of death in the United States — and heart disease being a factor that leads to heart attack or stroke — it’s important to pay attention to warning signs and symptoms.
Warning signs and symptoms
If you believe you’re having a heart attack or stroke, you should call 911 immediately. Heart attack symptoms can vary, so make sure and talk about any signs with your doctor5.
Common heart attack signs include:
- Chest discomfort, pressure, tightness, squeezing, or pain in the center of your chest that lasts for more than a few minutes
- Pain in one or both arms
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweat
Men and women can have different heart attack symptoms. The most common among both genders is chest pain, but women can also experience shortness of breath, back pressure, fainting, vomiting, and back or jaw pain6.
Stroke symptoms are often more easily recognizable than those for a heart attack. According to the AHA, here is how to spot a stroke F.A.S.T.:
- Face drooping
- Arm weakness
- Speech difficulty and/or slurred speech
- Time to call 911
Note: If you or someone you know shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 and get to the hospital immediately.
How Surest can help
Preventive care is a must. For Surest health plan members, check the Surest app or website to find preventive services and programs available to you.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a heart condition, you may want to get information about the Centers of Excellence network through Optum. They offer valuable services and resources for congenital heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases.
In addition, the Surest Clinical Advocacy team is available to help members understand their benefits and connect them with programs and resources that may offer support. Call Surest Member Services at 866-683-6440, Monday – Friday from 6 am – 9 pm CT.
The Surest health plan is designed to help members search for, evaluate, and make informed care setting decisions, and hopefully improve their health and add years to their life.
Did you know you can visit a doctor virtually?
You may be able to schedule either a virtual visit or a telehealth visit — both options allow you to seek care from a provider without going to a clinic. Note: Not all doctors offer this service, so check with your provider first.
If you get your health insurance through work, virtual visits may be available to you for a variety of needs, including for virtual urgent care, virtual primary care visits, virtual therapy for behavioral health care visits, and virtual specialty care. Coverage depends on your specific plan benefits.
2 American Heart Association "Healthy Living Toolkit," 2023.
5American Heart Association
6American Heart Association "Heart and stroke symptoms," 2023.