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Taking Care of Your Health

Learn more about how to get and stay well.

Preventive Screenings

Managing your health includes preventive care, even when you’re not feeling sick. Preventive screenings are an important part of staying healthy.Talk to your doctor about which screenings are right for you.

  • Breast Cancer Screening

    Did you know that three out of four women who get breast cancer have no family history of the illness? The best protection is early detection. Routine mammograms are covered by your health plan, at no cost to you, so talk to your doctor about when and how often you should be getting a mammogram. All you need is a prescription from your doctor.

    A mammogram can:

    • Detect symptoms years before you can feel a lump
    • Find cancer early, when it’s most treatable, but only if you have the screening every year
    • Take as little as 20 minutes with minimal discomfort for most women

    Plus, you can receive a $50 CVS gift card when you complete your mammogram. Learn more about earning rewards by completing your preventive health screenings through the Horizon Healthy Journey Program. The program is available to members who have a Horizon Medicare Advantage plan (HMO or PPO).

  • Top 5 Things to Talk About at Your Annual Wellness Visit

    When you have your Annual Wellness Visit with your Primary Care Physician (PCP), be sure to have an open discussion and remember to ask questions. Your PCP will create a personalized care plan that treats all your conditions, so being honest about your health concerns helps your doctor help you.

    Talk about:

    1. Falls: Certain health issues or living conditions may increase your chance of falling and these risk factors increase as you age. Always tell your doctor about any falls you have had in the past. Ask about taking a falls risk assessment.

    1. Blood pressure: Make sure your doctor checks your blood pressure at every visit. If it’s high, ask how you can lower your blood pressure to avoid health issues like a stroke, heart disease and kidney failure.

    1. Preventive care: If you had a fracture (broke a bone) in the last six months, you should get a DEXA scan to assess your bone health. Other important screenings to discuss are breast cancer, colorectal cancer and diabetes.

    1. How you are feeling: Let your doctor know if you’re feeling sad or depressed. You may benefit from talking with a behavioral health professional who can help you learn skills to cope with negative feelings or prescribe medication to manage depression.

    1. Medications: Follow the directions on your medicine bottles and don’t forget to take them even if you feel like they aren’t working. If you have side effects, let your doctor know right away. You must take your medication correctly for it to work properly. Not taking your medication correctly can cause serious damage to your health.

  • Colorectal Cancer Facts
    Colorectal cancer, often called colon cancer, occurs in the colon or rectum. Colon cancer is usually found in adults age 50 or older. Your risk of getting colon cancer increases with age and if you have had colon polyps or inflammatory bowel disease. Symptoms may include:
     
    • Blood in or on your stool
    • Change in bathroom habits, such as stools that are thinner than usual
    • Stomach aches, pains or cramps that occur often
    • Weight loss

    Colon cancer can be treatable and curable if caught early. Ask your doctor which of these different types of screenings is best for you:

    • Fecal Occult Blood Test: Also referred to as FOBT or FIT test. A lab test that looks for blood in a stool sample.
    • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: A procedure that uses a tiny camera on a thin tube to view the rectum and lower third of the colon to check for signs of cancer.
    • Colonoscopy: Similar to a sigmoidoscopy, but uses a longer tube to view the entire colon.
    • CT Colonography: A CT scanner is used to take images of the colon.
    • FIT-DNA Test: Also referred to as the stool DNA test. A lab test that checks for DNA changes and blood in a stool sample.

    Plus, you can receive a $50 CVS gift card when you complete a Colonoscopy or Sigmoidoscopy, or you can receive a $15 CVS gift card when you complete Fecal Occult Blood Test kit or Stool DNA. Learn more about earning rewards by completing your preventive health screenings through the Horizon Healthy Journey Program. The program is available to members who have a Horizon Medicare Advantage plan (HMO or PPO).

    Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC.gov; National Committee for Quality Assurance Health Effectiveness Data and Information Set, NCQA.org

  • How Diabetes Affects Your Body
    When people have diabetes, their body either does not make enough insulin or cannot use the insulin it has effectively. As a result, the amount of sugar in the blood becomes unhealthy. High blood sugar levels can cause many complications. The effects can be seen throughout the body, including:
     
    • Eyes: Diabetic eye disease (retinopathy) can cause small blood vessels to swell and leak liquid into the retina of the eyes, blurring the vision and in some cases causing blindness. It is important to see an optometrist or ophthalmologist for a diabetic eye exam at least once a year.
    • Kidneys: High blood sugar levels from diabetes can damage kidneys and lower their function, causing waste to build up in your blood. If left untreated, it may lead to kidney failure, which in some cases can cause death. A urine microalbumin lab test will let your doctor check on how well your kidneys are working. This test should be completed once a year.
    • Nerves: High blood sugar can cause nerve damage resulting in numbness in the hands, feet and legs. Hemoglobin A1c testing measures your average blood sugar over the last three months. You should have this blood test every three to six months.

    Plus, you can receive a $25 CVS gift card when you complete your Annual Wellness Visit. Learn more about earning rewards by completing your preventive health screenings through the Horizon Healthy Journey Program. The program is available to members who have a Horizon Medicare Advantage plan (HMO or PPO).

Health and Wellness

Staying healthy helps keep your body and mind strong, and can help prevent illness. Regular visits to your doctor, along with other tests and screenings, can help prevent certain health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. Taking care of yourself today can help keep you healthy tomorrow.

  • Falls Risk Assessment

    Did you know that falling once doubles your chances of falling again? If you fall and injure yourself, you may lose the ability to live independently. Factors that can increase your risk include weakness in your legs, low levels of vitamin D, certain medications, vision problems, foot pain, poorly fitted shoes, uneven steps, throw rugs and items left on the ground.

    Ask yourself:

    • Have you fallen or tripped in the past year?
    • Do you ever feel unsteady when walking?
    • Do you need to push with your hands to stand up from a chair?
    • Do you take medicine that makes you tired or dizzy?
    • Have you ever lost feeling in your feet?
    • Do you have weakness in your legs?

    If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, schedule your annual checkup with your Primary Care Physician and ask for a Falls Risk Assessment.

    Sometimes making simple changes to your home or lifestyle can help keep you from falling.

    Consider:

    • Asking for help to bring in the groceries
    • Cleaning up clutter in hallways and on staircases
    • Installing handrails in hallways and on staircases, and in bathrooms
    • Repairing or removing tripping hazards like as loose carpeting, throw rugs or floorboards

    Use our Doctor & Hospital Finder to find a doctor, or any other specialist, hospital or lab.

  • High blood pressure: Do you know your numbers?

    High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is often called a “silent killer.” Many people don’t know that they have it because it often has no warning signs or symptoms. The only way to know if you have hypertension is to measure your blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe medications for you to take.

    Blood pressure is measured using two numbers – systolic and diastolic:

    • Normal:
      • Systolic: <120 mmHg
      • Diastolic: <80 mmHg
    • At risk:
      • Systolic: 120-139 mmHg
      • Diastolic: 80-89 mmHg
    • High:
      • Systolic: 140+ mmHg
      • Diastolic: 90+ mmHg

    Check with your doctor to know if your blood pressure is within a safe range.

    Use our Doctor & Hospital Finder to find a doctor, or any other specialist, hospital or lab.

  • Cervical Cancer Screening
    Cervical cancer can affect women of all ages, and it’s treatable if found early. The best way to diagnose cervical cancer is a Pap test. Here are some tips if you are nervous about getting your Pap test:
     
    • Be comfortable with your doctor. Find a doctor that you get along with, and don’t be afraid to talk with him or her about any questions or hesitations you may have about getting tested.
    • Try to stay relaxed. When you’re anxious or nervous, it’s natural for your muscles to tense up, which can make the exam more uncomfortable. Taking deep breaths is one way to relax. Or, try to distract yourself by counting the ceiling tiles or even wiggling your toes.
    • Mild discomfort is normal, pain is not. Let your doctor know if Pap tests are painful for you. Your doctor can help identify the causes and may be able to offer solutions.
    • If you feel self-conscious or are scared, you are not alone! These are some of the main reasons women avoid getting a Pap test and it’s common to feel this way. Learning about the test is one of the best ways to empower yourself and become more confident as a patient.

    When to screen for cervical cancer:

    • Age 20. Begin screening for cervical cancer.
    • Age 20 to 30. Pap test every three years if results are normal.
    • Age 31 to 64. Pap test every three years or Pap test plus HPV test every five years.
    • Age 65 and over. Stop routine screening if results are normal for the past 10 years.

    Use our Doctor & Hospital Finder to find a doctor, or any other specialist, hospital or lab.

  • Body Mass Index (BMI): What does this number mean for your health?

    Your BMI is an estimate of how much body fat you have based on your weight and height. BMI results are split into four categories:

    • Underweight
    • Normal or healthy weight
    • Overweight
    • Obese

    Your BMI can tell your doctor if you have a higher risk for certain health problems, including:

    • High blood pressure
    • High cholesterol
    • Type 2 diabetes
    • Heart disease
    • Stroke
    • Certain types of cancer

    Lifestyle changes, like an improved diet and daily exercise¹,can make a big difference in reducing your risk for health problems. Here are some tips for getting started:

    • Drink water or unsweetened iced tea, instead of sugary drinks.
    • Make healthier lower calorie versions of your favorite meals.
    • Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, like brisk walking.

    Ask your doctor about your BMI and how you can reduce your risk for future health problems.

    Use our Doctor & Hospital Finder to find a doctor, or any other specialist, hospital or lab.

    ¹Talk to your doctor before changing your diet or starting an exercise plan.

    Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC.gov

  • Bladder Control and Your Health
    We understand that topics like urinary incontinence are uncomfortable to discuss with your doctor. But you’re not alone. More than 25 million people in the United States experience this every day. Urinary incontinence is the loss of urine control. The need to urinate can come on quickly and almost without warning.

    The good news is that there are many treatments. A few basic lifestyle changes may be enough to solve the problem, but your doctor is the best person to help you take control of this issue. Here are some treatments for urinary incontinence:
     
    • Lifestyle changes may help with incontinence. Losing weight, quitting smoking, saying “no” to alcohol, drinking less caffeine (found in coffee, tea and many sodas), preventing constipation and avoiding lifting heavy objects may help with incontinence. Drinking water instead of other drinks and limiting any drinks before bedtime may also help.
    • Pelvic muscle exercises (also known as Kegel exercises) work the muscles that you use to stop urinating. Making these muscles stronger helps you hold urine in your bladder longer.
    • Timed voiding may help you control your bladder. In timed voiding, you urinate on a set schedule; for example, every hour. Then you slowly extend the time between bathroom trips. When timed voiding is combined with Kegel exercises, you may find it easier to control your urge to go and bladder leakage.

    To make it easier to talk to your doctor about incontinence, bring a list of your symptoms and any questions. Discuss how much bladder control issues affect your daily life. Be ready to write down notes to help you remember what the doctor said. To get the highest quality care, it’s important to be clear and honest with your doctor about what is happening with your health.

    Use our Doctor & Hospital Finder to find a doctor, or any other specialist, hospital or lab

    Sources: National Institute of Aging; National Association for Continence

  • Diabetes and Your Mental Health
    A lot goes into managing diabetes; checking your blood glucose levels, taking your medications, counting carbs and getting enough exercise. With so much focus on the physical aspects of your disease, you may be neglecting your mental health.

    When you feel stressed, your body releases glucose for your cells to use as energy. If you have diabetes, you may not have enough insulin to move that extra glucose into your cells. As a result, your blood sugar level rises. Try these relaxation techniques to help you reduce stress:

    • Deep breathing: While sitting or lying down, take deep breaths in and out as you focus on relaxing your muscles. Aim for five to 20 minutes of deep breathing at least once a day.
    • Progressive relaxing: Starting with your toes, flex your muscles as you inhale. As you exhale, release the tension. Work your way up your body and repeat the exercise in each body part.
    • Think happy thoughts: When you notice a bad or stressful thought, replace it with one that makes you happy. Choose a positive word or phrase to repeat each time you have a negative thought.
 
  • Reduce Your Risk for Skin Cancer
    Protection from ultraviolet (UV) radiation is important all year round, not just during the summer or at the beach. UV rays from the sun can reach you on cloudy and hazy days, as well as bright and sunny days. UV rays also reflect off of surfaces like water, cement, sand and snow.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends easy options for protection from UV radiation:
     
    • Stay in the shade, especially during midday hours.
    • Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.
    • Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade your face, head, ears and neck.
    • Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block both UVA and UVB rays.
    • Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) protection.
    • Avoid indoor tanning.

    Use our Doctor & Hospital Finder to find a doctor, or any other specialist, hospital or lab

    Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC.gov