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Knock out the top 5 preventable diseases

Posted 6/16/2008   Updated 6/16/2008 Email story   Print story

    


by Brian P. Smith
TriWest Healthcare Alliance


6/16/2008 - VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Five health conditions are responsible for two out of every three adult male deaths in America. With the odds against him, what can a man do to effectively fight back?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that five diseases account for more than 65 percent of the deaths of American men. Faced with those frightening statistics, it is more important than ever to make sure men are doing what they can to guard against those deadly diseases: heart disease, cancer, stroke, lung disease and diabetes.

While it is unclear why men may be more at-risk for these diseases than women, TRICARE will cover preventive screenings and tests to help beneficiaries avoid preventable conditions.

"A lot of people don't really understand how powerful preventative measures can be," said Frank 'Mac' Maguire, M.D., senior vice president of Health Care Services at TriWest Healthcare Alliance, TRICARE's West Region contractor.

Recognizing the leading health threats, a man can better understand the steps to take that may reduce the risks and help avoid the leading causes of death. Lifestyle changes can lessen some of the risks. For those with a higher risk for any of the diseases, it is very important to discuss screenings with a primary care manager (PCM). Clinical preventive care services for family members and retirees are generally covered by TRICARE without a referral; active duty servicemembers should coordinate all preventive services through their PCM or military treatment facility.

View a list of TRICARE-covered services online under the "Medical" tab at www.tricare.mil/mybenefit.  

Heart disease 

Topping the list is heart disease, responsible for more than one quarter of the deaths. Reduce the risk of heart disease and its deadly partner, coronary artery disease, by treating the conditions that contribute to them: high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure.

TRICARE coverage includes blood pressure and cholesterol screenings. To lower the risk of heart disease, the CDC recommends not smoking, eating a healthy diet, exercising and following the doctor's directions for any prescribed medications.

Cancer 

While lung cancer is the most common form, all types of cancer cause almost 25 percent of deaths in American men. Smokers are most at risk for lung cancer and family history can play a role for all cancers. Build a defense against cancer with a healthy diet, exercise and by avoiding known causes of cancer, like exposure to the sun's UV rays.

Those with cancer in their family should discuss regular health screenings with their PCM. TRICARE coverage for colonoscopies, prostate exams and certain blood tests may have certain medical or risk factor criteria. 

Stroke 

Not always deadly, a stroke can also paralyze. Although family history can be responsible for risk factors, the American Stroke Association suggests making healthy lifestyle choices to help control risk factors like high blood pressure and diabetes. These choices can include lowering cholesterol levels, controlling high blood pressure, exercising and eating healthy. The appropriate tests and screenings should be coordinated with a PCM.

Lung Disease 

Associated with lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can also include infections, emphysema, some forms of asthma and chronic bronchitis. Respiratory-related conditions can be made worse by smoking and by poor air quality; reduce risks by not smoking and working with a PCM to manage any other breathing-related issues.

Diabetes 

Excess body fat (and family medical history) can affect how the body uses blood sugar (glucose). The CDC estimates that 80 percent of diabetics are overweight. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise as well as following a PCM's recommendations can help reduce treatable risk factors.

For those who suffer from congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes, TriWest offers a voluntary Condition (Disease) Management program, offering education to eligible TRICARE beneficiaries to help them manage their condition. Visit the Healthy Living Portal on www.triwest.com for more information on the program and for more healthy resources.

It is important to recognize unhealthy habits and decide to make a change for healthy living. TRICARE's clinical preventive care and regular screenings, from a PCM, can help monitor disease risk factors.

Contact:
TriWest Healthcare Alliance: www.triwest.com; 1-888-TRIWEST
TRICARE: www.tricare.mil  
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov  
American Stroke Association: www.strokeassociation.org  



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