Seconds count when it comes to surviving a stroke. Think F.A.S.T. to help recognize the warning signs:
Face drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?
Arm weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech difficulty: Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence like “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
Time to call 9-1-1: If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately.
Your risk of stroke increases with age, approximately doubling for each decade of life after age 55, and those who have already had a stroke are at a higher risk to have another. Stroke is also more common in men than in women and in those who are obese or who have high blood pressure or diabetes. Race is a risk factor too: African-Americans have a much higher risk for stroke than Caucasians
A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures and bleeds, or is obstructed by a blood clot. The resulting lack of blood flow prevents the brain from getting the oxygen it needs, and brain cells begin to die. Stroke can cause paralysis, vision, language and speech impairments, memory loss and changes in behavior.
Of course, prevention is the best treatment for stroke. Here are a few way to help reduce your risk:
- Control high blood pressure or diabetes
- Treat sleep apnea
- Quit tobacco use
- Eat a diet that’s rich in fruits and vegetables but has less cholesterol and saturated fat
- Maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly
- Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.
Learn more at the American Stroke Association website, strokeassociation.org
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March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and is the perfect time to discuss how you can prevent colon cancer with your physician. Approximately 40 percent of people over age 50 have precancerous colorectal polyps.
When colorectal cancer is detected early it is more likely to be cured. If you are age 50 or older, colorectal cancer screening should be on your “To-Do-List”. Those at higher risk should get screened earlier. Some common screenings for colorectal cancer are:
- Stool test for blood
- Barium enema, in which the doctor injects a contrast solution into the colon and then takes X-ray images to detect any polyps or masses
- Colonoscopy in which a lighted instrument is used to examine the colon
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy, which is similar to colonoscopy but examines just the lower half of the colon
Some screenings may require a copayment. Talk to your doctor about how often you should be tested and which screening method is right for you. For questions about copayments, call member services at 888.563.2250.
In addition to getting regular screenings, colorectal cancer can alert you to its presence. Some symptoms of colorectal cancer are:
- Blood in or on stools
- Stomach pains and aches that don’t go away
- Unexplained loss of weight
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to reduce your chance of getting colorectal cancer.
7 Best Ways to Prevent Colon Cancer
- Get screened
- Don’t smoke
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Don’t binge drink
- Lose your belly fat
- Know your family history
Regular checkups and screening tests are powerful weapons in preventing and detecting early signs of colorectal cancer. See the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information about Colorectal Cancer.
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People who consistently get too little sleep— which affects hormones, glucose production and more—set themselves up for diabetes, obesity, heart disease and mood disorders.
This month, develop some new sleep habits. Keep a consistent sleep schedule, avoid caffeine and alcohol in the five hours before bedtime, keep your bedroom between 60 and 75 degrees, and use heavy curtains or a sleep mask to block any light. Make time for catnaps too. One Greek study found that people who took three 30-minute naps weekly cut their risk of a fatal heart attack by 37 percent.
11 Benefits of Sleep
- Improve memory: Your mind is surprisingly busy while you snooze. During sleep you can strengthen memories or “practice” skills learned while you were awake (it’s a process called consolidation
- Live longer: Too much or too little sleep is associated with a shorter lifespan—although it’s not clear if it’s a cause or effect.
- Curb inflammation: Inflammation is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and premature aging.
- Spur creativity: Get a good night’s sleep before getting out the easel and paintbrushes or the pen and paper.
- Be a winner: If you’re an athlete, there may be one simple way to improve your performance: sleep.
- Improve your grades: Children between the ages of 10 and 16 who have sleep disordered breathing, which includes snoring, sleep apnea, and other types of interrupted breathing during sleep, are more likely to have problems with attention and learning.
- Sharpen attention: A lack of sleep can result in ADHD-like symptoms in kids.
- Have a healthy weight: If you are thinking about going on a diet, you might want to plan an earlier bedtime too.
- Lower stress: When it comes to our health stress and sleep are nearly one and the same—and both can affect cardiovascular health.
- Avoid accidents: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in 2009 that being tired accounted for the highest number of fatal single-car run-off-the-road crashes due to the driver’s performance—even more than alcohol!
- Steer clear of depression: Sleeping well means more to our overall well-being than simply avoiding irritability.
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This Valentine’s Day make sure the heart you love with, is a healthy heart. By selecting the most heart-healthy options to give to loved ones, or yourself, you can say “I love you” and really mean it. With chocolate, alcohol, and a meal topping the most common ways to celebrate love on this day, Western Health Advantage has ways of keeping your heart feeling loved.
Chocolate: Chocolate, especially dark chocolate (70% cocoa) contains heart healthy flavanols. Flavanols are antioxidants that improve heart function and lower blood pressure. Be on the lookout for chocolate options that include added sugars and fats, which increase the risk of stroke and heart disease. Love your heart with less than seven ounces of creamy, dreamy dark chocolate.
Valentine’s Day Meal: Whether the meal is enjoyed at a fancy restaurant or made from scratch at home, picking a meal that will love your heart as much as you do can be easy. Pick a meal that includes nutrient rich fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and is low in sodium and fat. This will keep your heart healthy and your taste buds happy too.
Alcohol: Like chocolate, some types of alcohol have been shown to be heart healthy in moderate doses (visit mayoclinic.org for recommended alcohol intake limits). Red wine has been shown to contain antioxidants that protect your arteries and increase your HDL cholesterol levels. (If you don’t currently drink, it is not recommended to start.)
For more Valentine’s Day heart love visit the American Heart Association, heart.org .
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Many people take the time to update their status on social media sites, but how many are updating their health status?
When it comes to taking charge of your health, one of the most important things you can do is to schedule annual checkups and screenings. These appointments help your doctor learn about your health risks and overall health.
When you are covered by Western Health Advantage, you can rest assured that all of your preventive care services such as annual physical examinations, immunizations and recommended health screenings are fully covered as part of your health plan. This means WHA members have NO out-of-pocket costs for preventive care visits.
Some of the main indicators of good health that you should know are:
- Blood Pressure: High blood pressure increases your risk of heart attack, stroke or kidney disease. Nutrition, physical activity, stress and heredity all play a role in determining your blood pressure. Ideally, blood pressure should be less than 120 over 80.
- Blood Sugar: Glucose, the sugar stored in your blood, should be less than 100. Glucose levels that are too high or too low can indicate diabetes.
- Cholesterol: The normal range for cholesterol is 200 or less. High total cholesterol can lead to heart attack or stroke. The level of HDL (or good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol) is also important to know.
- Body Mass Index: This is a measure of your height in relation to your weight. A healthy BMI is less than 25.
- Family History: Many health risk factors are passed on within families. Knowing if a close relative has or had some serious health issues can be a warning for you.
For detailed information on your specific plan benefits, you can create a secure account at mywha.org. Once logged in, visit our healthy living section for access to gym discounts, health education classes, materials, and services to help you find balance and live healthier.
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Join WHA’s team! Be a superhero!
Men, wear heels to help raise money for victims of violence!
On April 27, 2014, Capitol Mall will be taken over by more than 600 men– business leaders, elected officials, husbands, neighbors – who will walk, run, and limp the one-mile course while wearing high heels to raise critical funds for WEAVE.
The money raised ensures 24-hour services are available for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
What: Walk a Mile in Her Shoes
When: Sunday, April 27, 2014
Where: Capitol Mall
Join our team and we’ll pay your $35 registration fee. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be a part of WHA’s team!
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Covered California announced today that HMO Quality Ratings are now available on their website to help consumers choose a quality health plan.
“Our 4-star customer service rating validates our commitment to providing members with the highest quality of care and customer service,” said Garry Maisel, Western Health Advantage President and Chief Executive Officer. “Whether you are shopping inside or outside of Covered California, we believe our emphasis on choice and flexibility of more than 3,200 doctors within our entire Northern California network makes us an attractive choice for anyone needing affordable health coverage.”
The California Office of the Patient Advocate publishes the annual Health Care Quality Report Cards in order to provide consumers with performance ratings for the state’s 10 largest health plans and over 200 medical groups.
The HMO Report Card includes health care quality scores for two major areas:
- Clinical Performance Scores
- Patient Experience Scores
The newest HMO Report Card, released back in March, gave Western Health Advantage the most stars of any health plan in California.
Patients rate their experience with WHA in the following categories:
- HMO Provides Recommended Care – 3 stars
- Rate Their HMO – 4 Stars
- Getting Care Easily – 2 Stars
- HMO Helps Members Get Answers – 3 Stars
Out of the 10 largest HMOs in California, Western Health Advantage received 12 stars — more than any other health plan. The 2013 report card provides California consumers with side-by-side comparisons of the ten largest HMO health plans in the state. For the HMO Quality Ratings Summary 2013 Edition, please visit the State of California’s Office of the Patient Advocate website.
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