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Begin a Heart Healthy Lifestyle for American Heart Month


By: Charlotte Caldwell
TRICARE Management Activity

Many people associate February with Valentine’s Day and matters of the heart. As it turns out, February is American Heart Month, a time for everyone to be motivated to live heart healthy lifestyles.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women, accounting for one out of every four deaths in the United States.  Some people are more at risk of developing heart disease than others. For example, those with conditions such as  high blood pressure high cholesterol, diabetes, who are obese or who smoke are considered high risk and more likely to develop heart disease.

“You are in control and there are many ways that you can reduce your chances of getting heart disease, most of which are centered around living a healthy lifestyle,” said Dr. Andrew Plummer, TRICARE Population Health branch chief. “Lowering cholesterol, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and being tobacco-free are all essential to a heart healthy lifestyle.”

For individuals already living with heart disease, maintaining a heart healthy lifestyle is key to both maintaining and improving health and possibly reversing some of the effects of heart disease.

Treatment for heart disease includes making lifestyle changes, monitoring symptoms, taking medications and sometimes surgery or other specialized cardiac procedures. Knowing the symptoms of heart disease is very important.  The symptoms of heart disease vary and may include pain or dull aching chest pain or discomfort that radiates to the jaw, neck, back, arms or shoulders, feeling weak or light headed, abdominal discomfort, and shortness of breath. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention right away. For more information about signs and symptoms, as well as treatment and screening information go to

TRICARE beneficiaries are covered for preventive screenings for high cholesterol and high blood pressure, both risk factors for heart disease. Prescriptions and preventive screenings are covered at no cost when Prime beneficiaries get their care from their primary care provider or a network provider. A list of covered services is available online at

Choosing to live healthy is proven to reduce the risk of heart attack, coronary artery disease, enlarged heart and other life threatening heart diseases.  OPERATION: Live Well, the Military Health System’s healthy living campaign, provides education, resources and support for healthy living initiatives throughout the military community. Visit OPERATION: Live Well to learn how to eat healthy, stay active and live tobacco-free, all key elements of heart healthy living. OPERATION: Live Well is also available on Facebook and Twitter. 

Taking steps to adopt new healthy habits can be difficult, encourage family, friends and peers to join. Living well should be everyone’s mission. For more healthy living tips go to

Last Updated 1/7/2015