What’s at the Heart of TRICARE Coverage? Keeping Yours Healthy

2/11/2020

It’s the season for cupid, chocolates, and roses. Around Valentine’s Day, people focus on pledging their hearts to loved ones. It’s also an ideal time to pledge to take care of your heart health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in every four American deaths is due to heart disease. Fortunately, heart disease is often preventable. Making lifestyle changes and using your TRICARE benefit can help prevent heart disease and keep you healthy.

Heart disease is the term used to refer to several types of problems affecting the heart. But coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease. It’s caused by plaque buildup in the heart’s blood vessels. For some people, the first sign that they have CAD is a heart attack.

Know Your Risk for Heart Disease

According to the CDC, nearly half of all Americans have at least one of the three major risk factors for heart disease. These risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. Additional factors that increase your risk are diabetes, excessive alcohol use, and being overweight or obese.

“Some risk factors, like age and family history, you can’t change,” said Dr. James Black, medical director of the Clinical Support Division at Defense Health Agency. “But other risk factors can be reduced when you make healthy lifestyle choices, manage health conditions that lead to heart disease, and get routine screenings.”

Lower Your Risk for Heart Disease

Visiting your doctor regularly and getting preventive screenings now may help protect you from serious health problems later.

“Your doctor can help you determine your level of risk for heart disease and suggest changes to help improve your heart health,” said Dr. Black.

TRICARE covers cardiovascular disease screenings, including blood pressure and cholesterol checks. TRICARE covers Type 2 diabetes screening for people with high blood pressure and adults between the ages of 40 and 70 who are overweight or obese. 

For men ages 65 to 75 who have ever smoked, TRICARE covers a one-time abdominal aortic aneurysm screening to screen for cardiovascular disease.

You can also choose healthier habits to decrease your risk for developing heart disease. Start by improving your eating habits. A heart-healthy diet may include lots of fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods. Also, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol, and giving up tobacco use are healthy steps you can take. For help in these areas, your provider can provide education and counseling at your next Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HP&DP) exam. TRICARE covers one HP&DP exam annually for beneficiaries who are age six or older.

Remember, cardiovascular disease screenings are a part of your TRICARE benefit. Take command of your health by learning more about heart disease, and start treating your heart right this February.

Last Updated 6/23/2020