At Highmark Wholecare, we know how hard it can be living with a chronic condition. Highmark Wholecare Lifestyle Management Program is designed to partner with our Medical Assistance members to help them monitor their condition, stick to a treatment plan and remove the obstacles that stand in the way of a longer, healthier life.
This program is available for all members who need help to manage their asthma. Highmark Wholecare Case Managers can help you better understand your medications, triggers and support your treatment plan to help you keep your asthma under control.
Below are some tips to help you control your asthma.
Know your triggers and avoid them
Triggers like allergens and irritants can make your asthma symptoms worse by irritating your airways. The best way to control your asthma is to know what your asthma triggers are and how to avoid them.
Take your asthma medication as prescribed by your doctor
Asthma is a chronic (long-term) disease. If you have asthma, you have it all the time, even when you don't feel symptoms. You have to manage your asthma every day, not just on days when you feel symptoms.
Have an Asthma Action Plan
Everyone with asthma should have an asthma action plan. An asthma action plan is a written plan that you develop with your doctor to help control your asthma. It can help you remember what medicine is needed every day, what steps to take for an asthma attack, and when you should call your doctor or seek emergency treatment.
If you or your child do not have an asthma action plan, please download and print one out below. Bring it to your next medical appointment, so that you and your doctor can fill out the plan together.
Use your inhaler properly
Your doctor can show you how to use your inhaler properly so that your medicine reaches the airways. Some people especially children may need to use a spacer or a mask to get the medication to the lungs.
See your doctor regularly
You need to visit your doctor at least twice a year. Your doctor needs to see you to make sure your asthma is under control. When your asthma is under control you can do more of the things you like to do!
Quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke.
Do not smoke. If you need help to quit smoking or using tobacco, call the toll-free Quitline at 800-784-8669 or 1-800-QUIT-NOW. Do not be around tobacco smoke. If someone in your family smokes, ask them to smoke outside
- Take your medicines the way your doctor ordered. If you cannot take them for some reason, call the doctor’s office and tell them what problems you are having. Wait to hear back from the doctor’s office before you stop taking your pills.
- Some heart medicines have to be stopped over several days. Do not just stop taking a pill. You could have serious problems if you do.
- Most heart and blood pressure medicines must be taken for life. When you run out of refills, call your doctor for another prescription.
- Make sure you visit your doctor at least twice a year for a checkup. If you are admitted to the hospital, make an appointment to see your doctor within 2 weeks of getting out of the hospital.
- Ask your doctor which lab tests you may need to have done to monitor your heart disease.
- Eat more fruits, vegetables, nuts, dried beans, whole grains and foods low in salt.
- Have your blood pressure checked as prescribed by your physician. You should maintain your blood pressure of less than 140/90 unless your doctor helps you set a different goal.
- Do not smoke. If you need help to quit smoking or using tobacco, call the toll-free Quitline at 1-800-784-8669 or 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
- Do not be around tobacco smoke. If someone in your family smokes, ask them to smoke outside.
We Take Your Health to Heart
If you're over 21 and have had congestive heart failure, a heart attack or heart surgery, please talk with a Case Manager about our Cardiac Program. Case Managers can teach you how to eat healthy, stay active and take medicines the right way. They can also help you recognize the warning signs of more trouble with your heart.
What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a condition that causes decreased amount of air flow out of your lungs. This makes it harder to breathe. Unfortunately, COPD only gets worse with time, but there are many drugs to help manage your breathing problems.
How Do I Know if I Have COPD?
Do you get winded when walking up stairs? Some people might write this off as a sign of "growing older," but it could be the symptom of something more serious. If you have a chronic cough and shortness of breath you should discuss this with your doctor. Depending on several factors, your doctor may have you take a spirometry test.
What is a Spirometry Test?
A spirometry breathing test will show how much air you can breathe into your lungs and how fast you can blow it out. This will tell your doctor if you have any blockage of air flow. This test will be recorded and put on a graph for your doctor to read.
What Causes Flare Ups?
- Smoking - Quitting smoking is the most important change you can make to help yourself. You can also get help by calling 1-800-748-8669 or 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
- Pollution - Aerosol sprays, strong chemicals or other irritants or allergens can cause breathing troubles. Listen to the television and radio for warnings about poor air quality or ozone alerts. Try to stay indoors when the pollution levels are high.
- Lung infections - To help prevent irritating your COPD, you can get your flu shot at your doctor’s office or at many large pharmacies. You should also ask your doctor about a pneumonia vaccine. Wash your hands often and do not touch your face, especially your eyes.
- Weather - Cold air can dry your airways and irritate your lungs. You should cover your mouth with a scarf to help warm the air so that you can breathe easier. In the summer, heat and humidity can also make it hard to breathe so use an air conditioner if possible.
- Stress and anxiety - When a person has difficulty breathing it can make them feel stressed and they may panic. This will make the breathing problem worse.
How Do I Manage My COPD?
- Breathing Medicines - Use your inhalers as your doctor ordered. This will help reduce your chances of having to go to the hospital. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to show you how to use your inhalers properly.
- Exercise - Daily exercise is recommended for everyone with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Do not be worried that it will make you more short of breath. If you do not exercise, your muscles will become weak and you will have more trouble breathing. If your muscles are strong, then you will be able to do more without getting as short of breath. Talk to your doctor about an exercise program.
- Oxygen Therapy - Sometimes people with COPD need oxygen, but they are embarrassed to use it, or they don’t like being attached to a machine. There is an upside to using oxygen though. It can help you to breathe better and be more active. It may even help you live longer! If your doctor ordered oxygen for you, it is important to use it exactly as prescribed. Do not turn the flow rate up higher when you have trouble breathing as it may not help, and it could even be harmful. If you are using your oxygen as your doctor ordered and you are still having trouble breathing, you should call your doctor right away.
- Breathing Exercises - Ask your doctor to show you how to do pursed lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing. These breathing techniques can help you breathe easier when you feel short of breath. You will need to practice these techniques so that you are ready to use them when you need them.
- Nutrition - It is important to eat a healthy diet. This can help to keep your muscles strong so that you can breathe better. It can help your body fight off germs. Drink a lot of fluids to keep your mucus thin so that it is easier to cough up.
- Conserve Energy-Make sure you get enough sleep. This will help to give you more energy during the day. It’s a good idea to plan your daily activities so that you are not doing all of your hard chores at once. Try to space them out as this will help you to conserve energy. Also remember that eating a meal uses energy, so it’s important to rest for about 20 or 30 minutes before you decide to do another activity. You can also take advantage of the opportunity to do activities while you are sitting. For example, you may be able to sit while drying your hair or shaving. If you get tired, remember you can finish the activity at another time. It’s fine to stop and take a rest and to ask family or friends for help.
Diabetes Management is for members with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The program can help you understand how to manage your diabetes and decrease the chance of developing long-term complications.
Here are some tips to help manage your diabetes:
- Have your A1C checked at least once a year
- Monitor your blood sugar at home like your doctor recommends. Write it down and bring it with you to your appointments
- Know the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and high blood sugar (hyperglycemia). Also what to do if it happens
- Have healthy eating habits
- Get moving! Being physically active can help keep your blood sugar in target range
To help prevent complications like heart disease, blindness or amputations from happening, take care of your overall health too!
- Have your blood pressure checked at least once a year. Talk with your doctor what you can do to manage high blood pressure
- Have your cholesterol checked at least once a year. Talk with your doctor if a statin medication can help you manage your cholesterol
- Have a special exam called a retinal eye exam to check to see if there has been damage to blood vessels at least once a year
- Long-term diabetes can damage kidneys. Have a urine microalbumin test or blood work to check how your kidneys are functioning at least once a year
- Check the bottoms and tops of your feet every day for any injuries or sores that are not healing. Do not forget to check in between your toes too! Have a healthcare provider thoroughly exam your feet at least once a year
Do not smoke. If you need help to quit smoking or using tobacco, call the toll free line 1-800-748-8669 or 1-800-QUIT-NOW.Do not be around tobacco smoke. If someone in your family smokes, ask them to smoke outside.
We have a special program for pregnant women called MOM Matters®. This program gives you the education and support to help you have a healthy pregnancy. Our Maternity Team members are here to answer questions and help you every step of the way. They can help you:
- Find a doctor and set up your appointments for prenatal care. Call us as soon as you find out you are pregnant!
- Answer questions, direct you to community services, and guide you throughout your pregnancy.
- Arrange a home visit by a nurse when needed.
- Provide resources for transportation to and from important doctor appointments.
- Connect you to the smoking quit line at 1-800-784-8669 or 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
- Earn rewards for going to all your prenatal and postpartum care doctor visits!
Healthy Weight Management assists members who are overweight, obese or otherwise interested in maintaining a healthy weight.
Excess weight increases the risk for diseases and health conditions like:
■ type 2 diabetes
■ high blood pressure
■ heart disease
■ some types of cancer like colon and kidney
■ mental health like anxiety and depression
■ body pain
Weight status is measured using height and weight. Adults with the same weight but different height may not have the same Body Mass Index (BMI). Children and teen weight status is figured out in another way. A child or teen’s age and gender is included when assessing BMI.
Calculate BMI using these calculators from the CDC:
■ Adults 20 and over: Adult BMI Calculator
■ Children and Teens (ages 2-19): BMI Calculator
Here are some tips:
■ Build healthy meals using the plate method
■ Get moving! Find ways to add extra movement and steps throughout the day
■ Get a good night’s sleep
■ Limit sugar sweetened beverages
■ Talk with your doctor about a healthy weight that is right for you