Preventing Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. The best way to prevent heart disease is to lower your risk by living a healthy lifestyle. Not sure where to begin? We have simplified five healthy habits to help you live a better life. Another good habit is to see your primary care provider (PCP) for a checkup every year.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle can seem overwhelming. Breaking it down into specific habits can make it easier.

1. Eat a healthy diet. A poor diet can lead to high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and foods high in fiber. Choose foodsthat are low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. Be food smart as packaging may say “low fat” or “low sodium” but the manufacturer may be comparing that food to a super high fat or sodium product. Read the nutrition facts food label as it will give you the most accurate information.

2. Exercise regularly. Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic physical activity a day, five days a week.

3. Watch your weight. If you are unsure if you are at a healthy weight, see your PCP. If you do need to lose weight, go slowly and aim to lose ½ to 1 lb. a week.

4. Don’t smoke. Smoking greatly increases your risk of heart disease. Quitting will lower your risk. Keep your home smoke-free as secondhand smoke is dangerous too. See your PCP if you need help quitting.

5. Limit alcohol. Alcohol increases your blood pressure.


Know Your Risk Factors

The key risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure, high LDL (also known as ‘bad’) cholesterol and smoking. Almost half of Americans have at least one of these three risk factors.

Establish a relationship with your PCP so you can:

· Have your cholesterol levels checked. Cholesterol deposits can accumulate in the arteries which causes the arteries to harden and narrow.

· Learn your body mass index (BMI). BMI is a measurement that shows the amount of fat in your body based on your weight and height.

· Monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure has no symptoms, but its effects are very serious. High blood pressure puts added stress and force on the artery walls.

· Properly manage any chronic condition. Your PCP may prescribe medication to treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes. Be sure to follow instructions carefully. If you don’t understand something—test results, medication, etc.—ask your PCP. They want you to be healthy too.

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I am not working. Can I stay on the Plan’s coverage?

If you are not working, but you are still eligible for Plan coverage under the collective bargaining agreement, you may continue your coverage under the Plan by making monthly payments to the Plan during your period(s) of leave. You must notify the Health and Welfare office when you return to work.

If you are out on Workers’ Compensation, you must also make your monthly payments directly to the Health & Welfare Plan because they are not deducted from your paycheck or from your Workers’ Compensation benefits.

Payments are due on the first of the month. It is your responsibility to make your Health & Welfare payments on time. The Plan does not send notices of delinquent payments, nor will it send you a bill. If you do not make your payments on time, your coverage under the Plan will end. Consider permitting the Plan to deduct payments from your bank account. Contact the Plan for more information.

Coverage will retroactively end as of the monthly premium payment due date if the required monthly premium payment is not paid within 30 days from the due date (e.g., if the monthly premium payment for September, which is due on September 1, is not paid by September 30th, coverage would be terminated as of September 1). If coverage is terminated due to non-payment of the required monthly premium payment, you may again become covered (on a prospective basis) by sending in the required monthly premium payment for future coverage. Your coverage will re-start as of the first day of the month following receipt of the required monthly premium payment. You will not be permitted to retroactively reinstate coverage for any period of coverage that terminated due to non-payment of the required monthly premium payment.

If you are on a leave of absence for military duty, you are permitted to continue medical, dental, prescription drug, and vision benefit coverage under this Plan for you and your covered dependents in accordance with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). Please see the “If You Enter Military Service”  section on the Life Events page for more information.

If your coverage ends due to termination of your employment with METRO, you may be eligible for COBRA for you and your family. Although METRO will notify the Health & Welfare Plan of your termination, you are also encouraged to inform the Health & Welfare Plan to avoid any delay.

If you lose Plan coverage due to the termination of your employment or any other reason, you may want to look into purchasing health coverage through a Health Insurance Marketplace.

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