March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

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Colorectal cancer or colon cancer for short, is cancer that occurs in the colon or rectum. With the pandemic, colorectal cancer screenings have dropped. The goal of this month is to gain awareness of the disease and encourage people to get early screenings. When discovered early, colon cancer is very treatable.

Colorectal Cancer

The colon is connected to the large intestine. Most colorectal cancer develop first as polyps, which are abnormal growths inside the colon or rectum that may become cancerous if not removed.3 Screening tests are used to find and remove polyps. The scientific medical community is always doing research to discover new findings.6

Screening Tests8

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends adults aged 50 to 75 be screened for colorectal cancer. Screening tests are used to find polyps or colon cancer. A few of the tests are:

  • Stool Tests: This test is used to detect blood in your stool. Stool samples are checked in a lab to determine the existence of blood.
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: For this test, a doctor inserts a thin tube in your rectum to check for polyps or cancer in the rectum or the lower third of the colon.
  • Colonoscopy: This is like the flexible sigmoidoscopy test, but your entire colon is checked for polyps.
  • CT Colonography: Also known as a virtual colonoscopy, this test uses X-rays and computers to get images of your entire colon for examination.

Symptoms4

Many times, colorectal cancer does not cause symptoms, which is why screenings are so important.7 Symptoms of colorectal cancer include:

  • A change in bowel habits
  • Persistent abdominal discomfort
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Unexplained weight loss

Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors:2

  • As you get older, your risk of getting colorectal cancer increases
  • Having a family history of colorectal cancer
  • Lack of physical activity
  • A diet that lacks fruits or vegetables
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Tobacco use

Facts & Statistics

  • Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the U.S3
  • It is the second leading cause of death in men and women combines in the U.S3
  • It is mostly found in people 50 years or older.3
  • The lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 23 (4.3%) for men and 1 in 25 (4.0%) for women.5

What should you do?

Talk to your doctor at your annual check up to see if a simple stool test at home is right for you. Beginning at the age of 50, those with no symptoms should consider getting a colonoscopy every 10 years. You can do your part to prevent colorectal cancer. Visit www.cancer.org for more information.

Sources:

  1. Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month | Colorectal Cancer Alliance (ccalliance.org)
  2. What Are the Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer? | CDC
  3. What is Colorectal Cancer? | Colorectal Cancer Alliance (ccalliance.org)
  4. ​What are the symptoms of Colon and Rectal Cancer? | Colorectal Cancer Alliance (ccalliance.org)
  5. Colorectal Cancer Statistics | How Common Is Colorectal Cancer?
  6. NATIONAL COLORECTAL CANCER AWARENESS MONTH – March 2021 | National Today
  7. Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month: What You Need To Know (jacksonhealth.org)
  8. Colorectal Cancer Screening Tests | CDC

Telehealth

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Telehealth is becoming increasingly more popular. With the pandemic, telehealth has allowed people to get the health care they need while also allowing for safe social distancing. Are you taking advantage of what telehealth has to offer?

What is Telehealth?

Telehealth is the use of electronic communication technologies to access health care services remotely to manage your health. The goals of telehealth are to make health care more accessible, provide access to medical specialists and improve care coordination between members of health care teams and patients.2 With telehealth you can:

  • Talk to your doctor live over the phone or video chat.1
  • Use remote patient monitoring.1
  • Send or receive secure messages to communicate with your doctor.1
  • Use an online portal to schedule appointments, request refills or email your doctor.2

Benefits of Telehealth

  • Reduced exposure to pathogens: Telehealth keeps patients at home and away from COVID-19, the flu and other viruses.4
  • Convenience: You will not need to commute, take time off from work or get childcare for a health care appointment.3
  • Lower cost: Telehealth appointments typically cost less than in-person visits do.4
  • Medical access: People in rural and undeserved urban areas have a difficult time accessing medical care. This provides a way for people to see and meet their healthcare professional quickly.4
  • Easy access to specialists: Using telehealth tools can expand the range of access to specialists who live further away.1

Common Questions About Telehealth5

  1. Does telehealth protect my privacy? Absolutely. Healthcare providers are HIPAA compliant. When you communicate using electronic communication technologies, your medical information is held to the same standards as a regular in-person visit.
  2. Is telehealth hard to use? If you are not tech savvy, do not worry! Your healthcare provider will be able to walk you through the process. If you would rather talk on the phone than use video conferencing, your healthcare provider should be able to accommodate you in most cases.
  3. Can I get a prescription during a telehealth visit? If your health issue does not require further testing, your healthcare provider can provide you with an electronic prescription.
  4. Are telehealth visits as effective as in-person ones? Yes, if your health concern does not require bloodwork, x-ray or lab tests, your healthcare provider can still physically examine you with video technology in most cases.

Tria Health

At Tria Health, our pharmacists provide telehealth services when outreaching to high-risk patients, improving patient health and helping them find ways to reduce costs. Tria Health is a no cost benefit available through select members’ health plans. Tria Health’s Pharmacy Advocate Program offers one-on-one, private telephonic consultations with a Tria Health Pharmacist. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins and supplements. Tria Health will assist you in identifying any possible drug interactions or savings opportunities! Your pharmacist will work with you and your doctor(s) to ensure the intended outcomes from your medications are being received.

Questions?

Contact the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. What is telehealth? | Telehealth.HHS.gov
  2. Telehealth: Technology meets health care – Mayo Clinic
  3. Telemedicine benefits, disadvantages, and uses (medicalnewstoday.com)
  4. Telemedicine Benefits: 17 Advantages for Patients and Doctors (healthline.com)
  5. Telehealth: What Is It, How Does It Work, and How Much Does It Cost? – GoodRx

American Heart Month

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Each February, the American Heart Association sponsors American Heart Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Every year more than 600,000 Americans die from heart disease.1 The purpose of this month is to raise awareness on the importance of heart health and what you can do to prevent heart disease in yourself and your loved ones.

Heart Disease

Heart disease is caused when plaque develops in the arteries that lead to the heart. Plaque accumulates overtime when the lining of an artery is damaged by high blood pressure, smoking or high cholesterol.3 When plaque clogs your arteries, oxygen and nutrients are unable to reach your heart.

Risk Factors3

Common risk factors are:

  • Smoking tobacco
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Having a high-sodium and high-carbohydrate diet
  • Obesity

Facts About Heart Health

  1. One in five heart attacks happen without the person even knowing that they had one.1
  2. Women under the age of 50 are twice as likely to die of a heart attack than men under 50.1
  3. Heart attacks are more likely to occur on Monday mornings than other days of the week. 1
  4. Diet soda raises heart attack risks. Drinking one or more diet sodas a day makes your chances of having a heart attack 43% higher than those that drink regular soda or none.1
  5. Hypertension is the leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Nearly 1 in 2 U.S. adults has hypertension, but only 1 in 4 have it under control. 2

Heart Healthy Lifestyle Choices

The American Heart Association recommends that to live a healthy lifestyle, you must:4

  • Eat Smart: Make healthy, delicious choices wherever and whenever you eat.
  • Add Color: Make life more colorful with fruits and vegetables.
  • Move More: Infuse more movement into your life for optimal health.
  • Be Well: Create balance, vitality and wellbeing through self-care.

Heart disease can be prevented in a lot of cases. If you live a heart-healthy lifestyle, you can decrease your risk for heart disease.

Tria Health Can Help

This month and always, Tria Health can help you understand your risks of heart disease and what you can do to take better care of your heart. Tria Health offers Chronic Condition Management through our Pharmacy Advocate Program. Heart Disease is one of the many chronic conditions that Tria Health targets. Clinical Pharmacists provide one-on-one telephonic counseling for members and act as their personal advocate to help them navigate through the health care system. Through reviewing a member’s medications and lifestyle habits, Tria Pharmacists can make recommendations that will help control their chronic conditions and help them feel better!

Questions?

Call the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. AMERICAN HEART MONTH – February 2021 | National Today
  2. American Heart Month Toolkits 2021 | cdc.gov
  3. Heart Disease Causes and Risk Factors (healthline.com)
  4. Healthy for Good | American Heart Association

National Wear Red Day

Did you know that 87% of all heart issues are believed to be preventable?2 Go Red for Women is the American Heart Association’s national movement that advocates for more research and swifter action for women’s heart health. This day is crucial as it raises awareness, educates and brings about resources on women’s heart disease and stroke risks.

Women & Heart Disease Facts7

  1. 90% of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease or stroke.
  2. 80% of heart disease and stroke events can be prevented by education and lifestyle change.
  3. Fewer women than men survive their first heart attack.
  4. Only 54% of women recognize that heart disease is their number 1 killer.

Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease & Stroke

Cardiovascular disease is the number one health related killer in women as it causes 1 in 3 deaths in women every year.2 Cardiac events can be prevented with education and lifestyle changes.

  1. Diet and exercise: A healthy diet and physical activity can reduce your chances of heart disease by as much as 80 percent.2
  2. Know your risk: Factors like smoking, kidney disease and family history can increase your risk. If you are 40-75 years old, use Check. Change. Control. Calculator. (ccctracker.com) to evaluate your risk. It only takes five minutes.3
  3. Stop smoking: It puts you at a higher risk. For help on quitting visit: 5 Steps to Quit Smoking and Vaping | American Heart Association
  4. Control alcohol use
  5. Know your cholesterol levels6
  6. Reduce your blood sugar6
  7. Manage blood pressure: If it is higher that 140 over 90, seek treatment.

Recognize Stoke Symptoms

The American Stoke Association has developed an acronym called F.A.S.T. to help patients recognize symptoms:4

F = Face drooping, is it drooping or numb?

A = Arm weakness, when lifting your arms does one drape down?

S = Speech, is it slurred?

T = Time to call 9-1-1, if any of these symptoms occur.

Knowing this acronym just might help you save a life. Additionally, there are stroke symptoms that are specific to women. These symptoms include:5

  1. Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  2. Sudden trouble seeing or blurred vision in one or both eyes
  3. Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  4. Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Recognize Heart Attack Symptoms

These heart attack symptoms are also specific to women:

  1. Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.
  2. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  3. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  4. Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
  5. As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

Tria Health Helps Control Heart Disease

Tria Health offers Chronic Condition Management through our Pharmacy Advocate Program. Heart Disease and stroke are two of the many chronic conditions that Tria Health targets. Clinical Pharmacists provide one-on-one telephonic counseling for members and act as their personal advocate to help them navigate through the health care system. Through reviewing a member’s medications and lifestyle habits, Tria Pharmacists can make recommendations that will help control their chronic conditions and help them feel better!

Questions?

Call the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. National Wear Red Day® | NHLBI, NIH
  2. NATIONAL WEAR RED DAY – February 5, 2021 | National Today
  3. 8 Steps to Prevent Heart Disease and Stroke Infographic | American Heart Association
  4. American Stroke Association | To be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives.
  5. Warning Signs and Symptoms | Go Red for Women
  6. Risk Factors in Women | Go Red for Women
  7. Heart Disease Facts | cdc.gov

Obesity Worsens Outcomes from COVID-19

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Nearly 40% of people who make a New Year’s resolution say they plan to lose weight.1 However, the pandemic is making it more difficult for Americans to keep weight off. Obesity rates are on the rise in the United States. This is concerning as people with obesity have died of COVID-19 at excessive rates.1

Obesity

A body mass index (BMI) between 30 kg/m2 and <40 kg/m2 or severe obesity (BMI of 40 kg/m2 or above), increases your risk of severe illness from COVID-19.6 Obesity is now considered a chronic condition and puts people at risk for other chronic conditions.5 According to the CDC, medical costs for obese people are $1,429 higher than those that are not obese.3

Vaccinations and Obesity

Vaccines that protect against seasonal flu, hepatitis B and rabis are less effective in obese populations compared to leaner ones.1 Researchers have found that having obesity increases one’s likelihood of hospitalization for COVID-19 by 113%.2

Facts About Obesity and COVID-19:

  1. Having obesity may triple the risk of hospitalizations due to a COVID-19 infection.7
  2. Obesity is linked to impaired immune function.7
  3. The risk of death from COVID-19 increases as BMI increases.7
  4. Obesity decreases lung capacity which can make ventilation more difficult.7

Actions to Take to Combat Obesity

  1. There are prescription medications for obesity. Make sure that you have at least a 30-day supply of your medications and are taking them as prescribed.4
  2. Eating a healthy diet can help support immune function. A healthy diet prevents and aids in managing other chronic conditions like diabetes, which also increases your risk of severe illness from COVID-19.7
  3. Physical activity also supports immune function and helps with weight loss. Being active can help decrease a person’s chance of having severe illness from COVID-19.7
  4. Getting enough sleep is crucial as insufficient sleep has been linked to other chronic conditions and obesity.7
  5. Coping with stress over time can lower BMI.7

Tria Health Can Help

Tria Health offers a weight management service called Choose To Lose. If this structured weight loss program is included through your benefits plan, you can receive help from a combination of registered dietitians, health coaches and pharmacists, along the best-in-class nutrition tracker app ‘LoseIt!’ and a Bluetooth scale. This program is great at helping tackle the risks associated with obesity.

Tria Health is a no cost benefit available through select members’ health plans. Tria Health’s Pharmacy Advocate Program offers one-on-one, private consultations with a Tria Health Pharmacist. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins and supplements. Tria Health will assist you in identifying any possible drug interactions or savings opportunities! Your pharmacist will work with you and your doctor(s) to ensure the intended outcomes from your medications are being received.

Questions?

Contact the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. The Health 202: Obese Americans suffer disproportionately from the coronavirus – The Washington Post
  2. Why COVID-19 is more deadly in people with obesity—even if they’re young | Science | AAAS (sciencemag.org)
  3. Adult Obesity Facts | Overweight & Obesity | CDC
  4. Certain Medical Conditions and Risk for Severe COVID-19 Illness | CDC
  5. Obesity Is Now Considered a Disease – Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic
  6. Certain Medical Conditions and Risk for Severe COVID-19 Illness | CDC
  7. Obesity, Race/Ethnicity, and COVID-19 | Overweight & Obesity | CDC