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Live Healthy Heart Care

The UnitedHealthcare Heart Care program works to provide members with information on heart attack and heart failure to help them better understand these conditions, symptoms, some treatments used, and how they can be prevented. Our mission is designed to help members with those conditions stay as healthy as possible.

What is a Heart Attack?

Information found on this page about heart attacks is available from the American Heart Association1. The medical term for a heart attack is myocardial infarction (or MI). A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to the heart muscle is partially or entirely blocked off. The blockage is usually from the buildup of plaque, a fat-like substance generally caused by high cholesterol.

Warning Signs...
The most common warning signals of a heart attack:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing, or pain in the center of the chest lasting more than a few minutes
  • Pain spreading to the shoulders, neck, or arms
  • Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea, or shortness of breath

Less common warning signs of a heart attack are:

  • Unusual chest, stomach, or abdominal pain
  • Nausea or dizziness
  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
  • Unexplained anxiety, weakness, or fatigue
  • Heart fluttering, cold sweat, or paleness

Things you should know...
There are medications that have been proven effective in preventing a second heart attack. These medications are called beta-blockers.

After someone has a heart attack, the heart tries to make up for its weakened pumping action by beating faster, which puts more strain on the heart. A beta-blocker is a type of medication that blocks the heart’s tendency to beat faster. Beta-blockers are often used together with other medications, including aspirin, to reduce the chances of a second heart attack.

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What is Heart Failure?

Heart failure, or chronic heart failure (CHF) is a condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. CHF usually develops gradually as a result of a problem with the heart, such as a heart attack, high blood pressure, cholesterol build-up in the blood vessels, and diabetes. Some other causes can be alcohol abuse, severe emphysema, and rheumatic fever.

Approximately five million Americans are living with heart failure. CHF affects all ages, but it is more common in people over the age of 65. While CHF is a serious and chronic condition, it can be controlled with medications, diet, and an exercise program recommended by a health care provider.

Warning Signs...
At times, heart failure can worsen rapidly. It’s important that you contact your doctor if you have one or more of the symptoms listed below:

  • Shortness of breath, especially during mild activity or when at rest
  • Swollen feet, ankles, and legs (edema)
  • Fatigue, weakness, dizziness, or fainting
  • Feeling of suffocation while sleeping
  • Weight gain with abdominal swelling, pain, and tenderness
  • Frequent dry, hacking cough, especially when lying down

Things you should know...
Ask your doctor about ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers. ACE inhibitors have been proven to slow the progression of heart failure. These drugs decrease the heart's workload. Beta-blockers are also used for mild to moderate heart failure and often with other drugs such as the ACE inhibitors.

Read our Heart Failure Newsletter (English) / (en Español)

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Do You Know Your Own Risk Factors?

Certain risk factors can increase your risk of heart disease, and in some cases, a stroke. The more risk factors you have, the greater your chances of having a heart attack or stroke. Some risk factors, such as gender, race, family medical history, or previous heart attack or stroke, are beyond your control. But there are also risk factors you can control, treat, or prevent.

These include:

  • Smoking and secondhand smoke
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes

Other factors that may add to your risk of heart attack or stroke include:

  • Stress
  • Hormonal factors
  • Birth control pills
  • Excessive alcohol
  • Tobacco and illegal drugs

Follow the advice of your physician or health care professional. Your treatment plan may include medications, diet, and exercise programs.

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References:

1American Heart Association, www.americanheart.org.




 

LIVE HEALTHY MEMBER MATERIAL (in Spanish)
Heart Failure
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Welcome Letter (English and Spanish)
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Disease Management Member Rights & Responsibilities (English and Spanish)
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Heart Health Action Plan (English)
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Heart Health Action Plan (Spanish)
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Blood Pressure
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Managing Your Cholesterol
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Adult Vaccine Brochure
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"Commit to Quit" Smoking Cessation Booklet
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"Living Well with Heart Failure," for a copy please call 1-800-369-2704, option 4

 

 
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