Monday, February 15, 2016

Top Tips for Heart Health


February is National Heart Month, a smart time to check your heart health and assess the degree to which your lifestyle is affecting your risk of heart attack, heart disease or stroke, and make positive changes for better cardiovascular health.

How?

Good heart health is all about the basics: diet, exercise and genetics.
  • Diet: What you put into your body
  • Exercise: What you do, or don’t do, when it comes to physical activity
  • Genetics: Your family history
While you cannot redefine your genetic history, you have the ability to influence your own health and longevity by making smart lifestyle choices, and using what you know about your background to improve your odds. Let’s look at each of these three factors in terms of strengthening your heart and reducing your risk of heart disease.


Diet 

Dietitians and other experts recommend reducing your sodium (salt) intake to less than 1,500 mg/day. Other heart-healthy diet recommendations include eating lots of high-fiber foods, foods with omega-6 fatty acids (nuts, seeds, certain oils), and oily fish (salmon, mackerel, trout).
 
Foods to avoid include those with low nutrients, foods that are high in saturated fats (red meat, whole-fat dairy, egg yolks), fast food (which often is high in trans fats) and limiting alcohol to just a drink or two per day. 

For a more complete list of heart-healthy foods see University of Maryland Medical Center’s heart healthy diet list.

Exercise

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends regular physical activity to reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke and heart disease. AHA’s recommendation is to get “at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise.” 
 
An easy-to-remember and effective plan is 30 min./day for 5 days/week. If your schedule or current health condition makes the thought of doing a daily 30-minute routine overwhelming, you can break that 30 minutes up into two or three daily sessions of just 10-15 minutes each for positive results. 
 
These levels will, for most people, ensure good maintenance of heart health. But if you need to also lower your blood pressure or reduce bad cholesterol levels, shoot instead for at least 40 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise for 3-to-4 days/week. Try walking, running, swimming or biking – as these exercises naturally maintain an elevated heart rate for an extended time.
 
For more recommendations on heart-healthy physical activity, check out AHA’s Heart-Healthy Recommendations for Physical Activity.

Genetics

Your genetic background – your family tree and racial/geographic roots – can influence your risk of heart disease. But two recent studies from Northwestern Medicine suggest that a healthy lifestyle of good diet and exercise is far more influential in reducing your risk of heart disease:
  • A 2010 study showed that cardiovascular health in middle age and beyond is less a gift from your genes and more earned by a healthy lifestyle.
  • A second study showed that only a small percent of cardiovascular health is passed from parent to child; the bulk of negative or positive cardiovascular health resulted from lifestyle behaviors.
That said, if incidences of heart disease or stroke are in your family, the AHA cautions that your own risks are higher. So while knowing your family’s health history can help you avoid a heart attack or stroke, the AHA agrees that you can reduce your risk by making heart-healthy lifestyle changes.


Live Healthy. Live Smart.
- FamilyWize


Ric Moxley 
Contributing Writer


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Share the Love with FamilyWize



How appropriate that February brings us both Valentine’s Day and National Heart Month. We celebrate the heart’s passion as well as the heart’s importance to our overall wellness.

For both reasons – emotional and physical heart health – we at FamilyWize have launched the Share the Love initiative.

Share the Love, running throughout the first half of February, seeks to raise awareness of heart health as well as the savings potential of the free FamilyWize prescription savings card. In 2015, FamilyWize helped 350,000+ cardholders save more than $29 million on heart medications alone!

We encourage you to show your love for family and friends by telling them about the free FamilyWize prescription savings card. Giving the gift of chocolates in February is popular, but why not also give a gift that will save your loved ones an average of 36 percent on heart medications all year long?!


Share the Love

To help you share the love with your friends and family, here’s what you'll need to know:
  • The FamilyWize prescription discount care is free, whether or not you have health insurance.  
  • The card is accepted at more than 60,000 pharmacies nationwide, including all major chains.
  • The card comes with unlimited use, which means that the savings can be substantial for those who are on regular, ongoing medication use.
  • The card covers all FDA-approved prescription medications.
  • The card provides an average of 43% savings on all prescription medication retail prices, and an average of 36% on heart meds (based on FY 2015).
  • In total, FamilyWize has helped more than 9 million people save more than $900 million dollars on prescription medications.
  • You can get your FamilyWize card by printing it from FamilyWize.org, by calling 1-866-810-3784 or by downloading the free FamilyWize app.
  • Getting your prescription discount is as simple as showing the card to your pharmacist - every time.
  • Always  carry your FamilyWize prescription savings card with you to the pharmacy, to ensure you are always receiving the lowest price.
All of this information is available with our sharable Valentine's Day e-card, which you can get at www.FamilyWize.org/SharetheLove, through February 15, or click the first link below. The “Share the Love” Valentine’s Day e-card includes the FamilyWize prescription savings card.

 GET THE CARD               SHARE WITH OTHERS
 
There are many ways to share the message, including posting it on Facebook, sharing it on Twitter, or send the message by e-mail.
  
Hashtag the Love!

We will be sharing tips and advice for better heart health and savings on social media using #SharetheLove throughout the month, so look for those messages too!

Learn more at www.FamilyWize.org/SharetheLove.

Live Healthy. Live Smart.
-FamilyWize

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Getting the Facts on Glaucoma

Currently, more than three million people in the United States suffer from glaucoma. According to the National Eye Institute, this number is expected to rise to about 4.2 million by the year 2030. January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, making it the perfect time to learn more about the disease - and how to help prevent it.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a classification of diseases that damage your optic nerve, which carries images from your eye to your brain. The Glaucoma Research Foundation calls it "the sneak thief of sight," as there are no symptoms. In addition, any loss of vision permanent; you can lose as much as 40% of your eyesight without noticing. It is progressive and irreversible, and initial vision loss from glaucoma is to your peripheral (side) vision, so if you have it, you may not notice anything until significant vision is lost.
 
The onset of glaucoma often results in the complete loss of eyesight. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.5 million people worldwide are blind as a result of glaucoma, with over 120,000 of those people in the United States alone.

The most common type of glaucoma is hereditary. Siblings of people with glaucoma are at a much greater risk. It can affect people of any age, but usually occurs to the elderly and people of middle age.

There are two main types of glaucoma: primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), and Angle-Closure Glaucoma. Both are identified by an increase of pressure inside the eye.
When optic nerve damage has occurred despite a normal nerve pressure, this is called normal tension glaucoma.

Secondary glaucoma can occur when a different disease contributes to increased eye pressure, resulting in optic nerve damage and vision loss. Read about this and other types of glaucoma here.

How can glaucoma be prevented?

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness and is the leading cause of preventable blindness. A number of factors can put you at higher risk. This includes:
  • People of African, Asian, or Hispanic descent 
  • People over 60 
  • Family members of those already diagnosed 
  • Diabetics 
  • Those who are severely nearsighted
Raising awareness is the key to prevention. Though glaucoma’s most common form has virtually no symptoms, a comprehensive eye examination can reveal its presence and allow you to begin treatment immediately.

The right treatment for glaucoma depends upon the type of glaucoma you have as well as other factors. Although there is no cure, medication or surgery can help slow or prevent further vision loss. This is why awareness and early detection are vital to stopping the progress of the disease.

Learn more

The resources below can help you increase your awareness and understanding of glaucoma:
Remember that regular eye exams are especially important for those at higher risk, and may help to prevent vision loss. If you have been diagnosed with the disease, it's important to follow your treatment as instructed by your doctor, including taking your medication exactly as prescribed. However, recent studies have shown that many people in the United States skip their medication, due to the high costs associated with them.

free prescription savings card like the one offered by FamilyWize can help make medication more affordable, even if you have insurance. Last year, the FamilyWize card saved an average of 43% on prescription medications. Everyone is eligible and there are no restrictions, so if you're concerned about the price of your prescription or know someone who is struggling to pay for their medication, the card can be a great way to save.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Friday, January 22, 2016

Solutions for Progress: Our New Partner in Savings!

Our goal at FamilyWize is to help improve the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities by lowering the out-of-pocket costs for prescription medication. We’re dedicated to making life more affordable for people, which is why we’re so excited to announce our partnership with Solutions for Progress (SfP), a 20-year-old company dedicated to helping low- and moderate-income individuals move out of poverty.


SfP offers cloud-based services that help people with limited incomes meet their financial needs. Their services include MyBudgetCoach, an online financial coaching service, as well as The Benefit Bank, an online service that combines a benefits screener, benefits application filer and IRS-certified tax assistance and filing.

SfP’s mission of using proven outreach techniques and cloud-based technology to help families stabilize, manage and grow their household finances makes them the perfect new partner to support FamilyWize’s goal to help make prescription medication more affordable for all.

Through their network, SfP will be helping to distribute the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card, which is absolutely free for anyone to obtain and use. In 2014, the FamilyWize card saved an average of 42 percent on prescriptions, with over $935 million saved since 2005!


Those who want to learn more about Solutions for Progress can visit their website at www.solutionsforprogress.com.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

How to Stay Healthy as a Family this New Year

If you're interested in getting healthier, the New Year is a great opportunity to connect with your family and make plans to accomplish positive changes together. By setting goals now, you can reap the benefits for the entire year. Read on for some suggestions on how to stay healthy and fit as a family in 2016.

Eating Well

A healthy lifestyle begins with a healthy diet. Start eating meals that include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. Choose foods at the grocery store that are unprocessed and lower in fat and sugar. By preparing meals and eating them as a family instead of going to a restaurant or ordering takeout, you can ensure that everyone is eating healthy and enjoying quality time together. For snack suggestions, check out our post on healthy snack options for ideas on what to have instead of junk food, which is often high in sugar or salt.

Exercising

Did you know that family members are more likely to keep up an active lifestyle if they're engaging in one together? This winter, choose fun activities that the whole family can enjoy, like sledding, skating or even having a snowball fight in the yard. In warmer weather, try biking, hiking or going to the beach.

And don’t forget to set goals. According to Let’s Move, America,  you should plan for at least 30 minutes of activity three times per week.

Maintaining Good Mental Health

Mental health is just as important as physical health when it comes to your overall wellness. If you suffer from high stress levels, use techniques like exercise or meditation, which can help manage your mood. How much you socialize is also an important factor, so group activities are best. Incorporating healthier habits in your diet and exercise routines can also give you more energy and lead to a more positive outlook.

Financial concerns can also be a major cause of stress. In many cases, people who need a prescription or take one regularly often skip doses or fail to fill their prescription entirely. This can affect your entire well-being - both mental and physical. That's why FamilyWize is proud to offer a free prescription savings card that can save you money just by showing it to your pharmacist when you pick up your medication. It's completely cost-free to use, can be used an unlimited number of times, and everyone is eligible, insured and uninsured.

The image of a healthy parent is an important one. Kids will mimic your habits and lifestyle, so it’s just as important for you to stay healthy as it is for the rest of the family. By making plans and setting concrete goals, you can help ensure that 2016 is your healthiest year yet!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Thyroid Awareness Month: What You Need to Know

What is your thyroid? It’s a tiny butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, and while it may be small, thyroid issues can cause a whole range of serious health problems that can result in expensive medical bills. January is Thyroid Awareness Month, making it a great time to learn more about this important part of your body.

The thyroid is one of your endocrine glands, which produces hormones that affect your breathing, digestion, and heart rate. It helps you use energy, stay warm, and keep your organs working properly; In addition, your thyroid plays a role in regulating your body temperature. The more hormones your thyroid produces, the faster these systems in your body go. These systems working together are known as your metabolism.

According to the National Institute of Health, about 1 in 20 Americans over the age of 12 have an underactive thyroid, a condition known as hyperthyroidism. This causes bodily functions to slow down. A much smaller number of Americans, about 1 in 100, have hypothyroidism, an overactive thyroid, which can also cause problems.

Aside from these conditions, other health issues related to your thyroid include goiter, when your thyroid gland enlarges, thyroiditis or swelling of the thyroid, and thyroid nodules, which appear as small lumps in your neck. Thyroid nodules are extremely common and usually harmless, but it’s best to have them checked by a doctor to make sure they aren’t related to thyroid cancer.

In many cases, a thyroid condition can be difficult to diagnose, because the symptoms can seem unrelated. If you have an overactive thyroid, you may be prescribed medication that will help you regulate the flow of hormones. For an underactive thyroid, artificial hormones can help.

The cost of prescription medication can really add up, especially if you take them each month for long-term conditions or chronic diseases. If you’re looking for ways to save on your prescription medication bills, or simply interested in spending less money, free prescription savings card like the one offered by FamilyWize can be a great option.



The FamilyWize card can save you up to 75% off the total cost of your prescription medication, simply by showing it to your pharmacist when you pick up your prescription. It even works if you have insurance - simply show the pharmacist your FamilyWize card in addition to your insurance card, and ask for the lowest price. So if you’re taking medication for your thyroid, or are simply trying to spend less money in the New Year, print out a free FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card or download the free app on your smartphone!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Ring in the New Year With a Resolution to Save!

The holiday season has come to a close, and resolutions have been set for the New Year. Now comes the hard part - sticking with them! According to Nielsen, the most popular resolutions include getting healthier, getting organized, and spending less money. However, research shows that 92% of Americans fail to achieve the resolutions they set.

Why does this happen? There are several reasons. Many people set unrealistic goals, while others don't develop a plan - they set a resolution without knowing how they're going to achieve it. 

By setting small, manageable goals and taking concrete steps to meet them, reaching your New Year's resolution suddenly becomes much easier. And if you're trying to save money in 2016, your medicine cabinet can be one of the best places to start. This year, help meet your New Year's resolutions by being smart with your prescriptions!

The first step to saving money with your medication is to make sure you are using them properly. Check the labels to make sure you are taking your medications as prescribed and that you are storing them correctly. While many Americans attempt to cut healthcare costs by taking less medication than they've been instructed, this ultimately has the opposite effect: the cost of non-adherence to the healthcare system is an estimated $290 billion annually.

If you're taking any name-brand medications, you may want to try talking to your doctor to see if there are any generic alternatives he or she can recommend. In many cases, generic medication can be a less expensive, but equally effective option. For more information, see our earlier blog post about generic prescription medication.

Even if you take generic drugs, prescriptions can often be costly, especially if you don't have insurance. That's why it's smart to take advantage of prescription savings cards like the one offered by FamilyWize. These cards can be a great resource for saving more on your medication and staying healthy.

The FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card offers an average savings of 42% on retail prescription prices and has no eligibility requirements. You can use it whether you're insured or uninsured, and getting savings is easy - simply show it to your pharmacist when you're picking up a prescription, and ask them for the lowest price.  You can also compare prices in your neighborhood at home by using the FamilyWize Drug Price Lookup Tool.  

You can print out or order your own FamilyWize card on our website, or download the free smartphone app, available on iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone. It’s a great tool for saving money, even if you have insurance, so make sure to always bring your FamilyWize card when you're making a trip to the pharmacy. Happy New Year, and enjoy the savings!