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Be my Valentine

If you’re giving away your heart, make sure it’s healthy

“If you take this heart of mine, you will be my Valentine …”

Valentine’s Day is almost here, and romantics throughout the nation have hearts and flowers on their minds. Perhaps it’s only appropriate that February is also American Heart Month. After all, when giving away your heart, it’s only polite to make sure your gift is working properly!

About 715,000 Americans have heart attacks each year, and another 600,000 die of heart disease. That’s one out of every four deaths, making heart disease the No. 1 cause of death for both men and women. Treatment is also expensive, totaling $312.6 billion per year in health care services, medications and lost productivity. 1

Steps to a healthier heart

The good news is that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is not only preventable but controllable. Here are eight things employees can do to improve their heart health:

  1. Mom was right: Regular hand-washing goes a long way toward chasing away colds and flu. But did you know there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about the process? According to the Centers for Disease Control, washing hands the right way means wetting them with running water and soaping up for a minimum of 20 seconds before rinsing and drying with a clean towel.  If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer with an alcohol content of at least 60 percent. Remember, though, that hand sanitizer isn’t as effective as old-fashioned soap and water. It eliminates some germs, but not all of them. 1
  2. Eat a diet that includes fresh foods and vegetables, as well as foods that are low in saturated fat and trans-fat and high in fiber. Limiting salt or sodium can lower blood pressure.
  3. Maintain a healthy weight, because being overweight or obese can increase the risk of heart disease.
  4. Exercise regularly. Physical activity not only helps workers maintain a healthy weight, it can also lower cholesterol.
  5. Monitor blood pressure at home, at a pharmacy or at a doctor’s office.
  6. Stop smoking, because cigarettes are a major risk factor.
  7. Limit alcohol consumption because alcohol increases blood pressure.
  8. Have cholesterol levels checked by a doctor at least once every five years.
  9. Manage diabetes by closely monitoring blood sugar.

Other keys to attaining heart health include getting enough rest and limiting stress. The American Heart Association says stress “may affect behaviors and factors that are proven to increase heart disease risk: high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, smoking, physical inactivity and overeating.” 2

Easing stress with the right insurance coverage

One thing for certain is that employees who’ve experienced heart-related illnesses don’t need the additional stress of worrying about how they’ll pay for medical treatment. Voluntary insurance can go a long way toward helping them put money fears aside in favor of what’s important – and that’s getting well. Three key insurance policies that can help alleviate financial concerns are:

Heart attack symptoms

The five major symptoms of a heart attack are:

  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck or back.
  • Feeling weak, light-headed or faint.
  • Chest pain or discomfort.
  • Pain or discomfort in the arms or shoulders.
  • Shortness of breath.

If you think you or someone you know is having a heart attack, immediately call 9-1-1.

Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • Specified health event, which pays cash benefits for covered events as patients concentrate on recovery.
  • Hospital confinement indemnity, which pays out-of-pocket benefits associated with a covered hospital stay.
  • Short-term disability, which helps pay bills such as the monthly mortgage or rent, child care, utility bills and car payments while a policyholder is unable to work.

Let’s be real: A voluntary insurance policy isn’t the ultimate Valentine’s Day gift. It certainly can’t replace candy, flowers or a romantic dinner. But when it comes to showing your Valentine you’re in it for the long term, taking care of your heart and helping protect your financial security with appropriate insurance coverage are great ways to show you care.

Sources

1 American Heart Association,"Heart disease and stroke statistics – 2013 update," accessed Nov. 22, 2013 - http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/127/1/e6
2 The American Heart Association, “Stress and Heart Health,” accessed Nov. 22, 2013 - http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/MyHeartandStrokeNews/Stress-and-Heart-Health_UCM_437370_Article.jsp

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a solicitation.

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12/13