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      Helping seniors fight the silent killer

      February is American Heart Month, a chance to raise awareness of the leading cause of death in the United States â?? heart disease â?? which accounts for over 22 percent of deaths per year in South Carolina.

      COLUMBIA (WACH) - February is American Heart Month, a chance to raise awareness of the leading cause of death in the United States ?? heart disease ?? which accounts for over 22 percent of deaths per year in South Carolina.

      The annual observance is an opportunity to educate seniors ?? about the significant impact that so-called ??silent killer?? diseases such as heart disease can have on one??s pocketbook and quality of life.

      At least 69 percent of the more than 50 million Medicare beneficiaries suffer from two or more chronic conditions.

      Every year millions of people with heart disease and other common chronic conditions go undiagnosed, not receiving the appropriate follow-up care to help prevent life-threatening complications. For seniors with chronic conditions, quality health care, self-management skills, and lifestyle improvements can make the difference between a high quality of life and regular visits to the emergency room.

      According to studies by the American Hospital Association and the American Heart Association, rates of chronic illnesses such as heart disease among Medicare beneficiaries are increasing, but remain underdiagnosed.

      Scott Gorman, Director of United Health Care Medicare and Retirement, says its important to understand chronic risk factors and resources to support early diagnosis.

      "There are four steps to take aim against ??silent killer?? diseases, "says Gorman, " know your risk factors, re-evaluate your lifestyle, having self-management skills, and considering specialized Medicare coverage."

      According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adopting a lifestyle that includes healthful eating and regular exercise, as well as keeping up with preventive screenings, can prevent or delay serious health complications for those with chronic conditions.

      Gorman adds there are resources and solutions to ease the burden of chronic conditions. "Learning how to manage a condition like heart disease and the available treatment options can be overwhelming. People with chronic conditions and their caregivers should know that specialized health care resources are available to support them."