Health Conditions

Learning more about your health condition can help you manage your health and live a healthy life. You can use the tabs below to learn more about common health conditions to keep you and your family healthy.


What is heart failure?
Heart Failure is when your heart does not pump correctly. Your heart becomes weaker over time and can cause problems to your body. Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) is a type of heart failure. Symptoms of heart failure may develop over weeks or months. If you do not visit your doctor, heart failure can get worse.

Signs of heart failure:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Build-up of fluid
  • Swelling in feet, ankles, legs or stomach
  • Feeling tired, weak, lightheaded or dizzy
  • Coughing (white or pink blood-tinged mucus)
  • Trouble breathing when lying down
  • A racing heartbeat while resting

Changes to report to your provider:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Fluid builds up, causing swelling in feet, ankles, legs or stomach. This build up is called edema.
  • Fluid may build up in the lungs. This is called congestion.
  • Loss of hunger

Some causes of heart failure:

  • Heart attack damage to the heart muscle. The damaged heart muscle weakens the heart’s ability to pump blood
  • Blockages in the heart’s arteries caused by cholesterol and fatty deposits. Blockages do not let enough blood flow to the heart
  • High blood pressure (See High Blood Pressure for more info)
  • Heart muscle disease (Cardiomyopthy)
  • Diabetes (See Diabetes for more info)


Your doctor may put you on a plan to treat your health and improve your health. The plan may focus on:

  • Diet – eat more vegetables and decrease salt with more natural seasonings like herbs, citrus and vinegars.
  • Medicine- Medicine may be prescribed to strengthen your heart and reduce swelling.
  • Managing stress- taking time to relax can improve your health. Try yoga, meditation or guided imagery.
  • Exercise – Being active for 30 minutes to 1 hour a day can improve your health. Be sure to speak with your doctor about safe activities.
  • Limit smoking and drinking alcohol. People who quit smoking are more likely to have their symptoms improve. If you are interested in quitting smoking you can visit

To learn more about heart failure you can visit:

Source: American Heart Society

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a common disease that affects the way your body uses sugar. All of the cells in your body need sugar to work properly. Sugar gets absorbed into your cells with the help of a hormone called insulin. If you do not make insulin or if your body does not respond to it then the sugar builds up in your blood. This is what happens when you have diabetes.

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is when the body makes little to no insulin. Type 2 diabetes means that your body does not respond to insulin or does not make enough. In some cases it can mean both problems.

Signs of diabetes:

  • Intense thirst
  • Being very tired
  • Urinating often
  • Losing weight
  • Blurred vision
  • Cuts/bruises are slowly healing


  • Measuring your blood sugar often, to make sure it does not get too high or too low. (Your doctor will explain how to measure your blood sugar.)
  • Using insulin shots or an insulin pump to keep your blood sugar levels in the right range. (An insulin pump is a device that you wear close to your body. This device supplies your body insulin.)
  • Your doctor may also put you on a plan to carefully plan your meals and activity levels. This plan will help track your blood sugar levels.

To learn more about diabetes you can visit:

Source: NIH; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure is a condition that puts you at risk for the following:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Kidney disease

You may not feel that anything is wrong, but high blood pressure can seriously affect your health. Doctors define your blood pressure by two numbers. See the chart below for a definition of normal and high blood pressure:



Top number


Bottom number

High 140 or above 90 or above
Prehypertension 120 to 139 80 to 89
Normal 119 or below

79 or below

Prehypertension is a term used as a warning. This means that your blood pressure is not as low as it should be for good health. People with prehypertension are likely to develop high blood pressure.

You can lower your blood pressure by taking these steps:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a low fat diet and eat more fruits and vegetables
  • Reduce the amount of salt you eat
  • Get active at least 30 minutes a day
  • Cut down on alcohol

For more information about high blood pressure, you can visit:

Source: American Heart Association

What is chronic pain?

Chronic pain is pain that lasts longer than 3 months. This pain often makes daily activities difficult. Some injuries or conditions that have been treated may cause chronic pain.

Chronic pain related to cancer or end-of-life may be treated differently.

Signs of chronic pain are:

  • Pain
  • Aches inside muscle or bone
  • Stabbing, shooting pain; and tingling or numbness
  • Dull, throbbing pain
  • Trouble with usual activities like bathing or dressing

Function is an important factor in evaluating pain. If you are having trouble with your normal activities due to pain


Your doctor will create a care plan that fits your needs. Some treatment options include:

  • Medicines to improve sleep or mood
  • Physical therapy to learn exercises and stretches
  • Working with a behavioral health counselor
  • Relaxation therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Surgery

Often times, depression and chronic pain go together. If you feel depressed, talk to your doctor about it. See the condition “depression” for signs.

You can also try some these things at home:

  • Use a heating pad or cold pack on the painful area. (Check with your doctor first.)
  • Practice relaxing. Relaxing the mind can help with how the body feels pain. Try deep breathing exercises or ask your doctor for other methods.
  • Stay as active as possible. Gentle activity like walking or swimming can help ease muscle and joint pain. If you are not active, your pain might get worse.

Opioids (narcotics) and Chronic Pain

Your doctor may prescribe you a drug called an opioid for treatment. Opioids may also be called narcotics. These drugs have a high risk for drug misuse and even death. Drug misuse is the use of prescription drugs without a prescription.

Common opioid drug names are:

  • Oxycodone (OxyContin)
  • Methadone
  • OxyContin
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
  • Morphine
  • Tylenol #3

For more information about chronic pain and opioids, you can visit:


What is HIV?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus and is the name of a virus that can affect the body’s “immune system,” which is responsible for fighting infections. It weakens your immune system by destroying important cells that fight disease and infection. When people have an untreated HIV infection, they can become sick easily. There is not cure for HIV. But people with HIV can take medicine to control the virus, keep their immune system strong and stay healthy for many years.

How do I get HIV?

You can get infected with HIV by sharing body fluid with a person infected with HIV. Some examples include:

  • Having sex without using a condom with someone who has HIV. This includes vaginal, anal and oral sex.
  • Sharing needles or syringes with someone who has HIV. HIV can live in a used needle up to 42 days depending on temperature and other factors.

Testing for HIV

If you are between the ages 13 and 64 it is suggested that you get tested for HIV. You can ask your doctor for an HIV test. Often times a blood sample or saliva (spit) is taken to be tested. Results from some tests may take a few days to come back. Ask your doctor about a rapid HIV test can be ready within minutes. Many HIV tests are now quick, at no cost to you and painless.

You can text your Zip Code to KNOW IT (566948), or call 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636) to find a testing site near you.

Treatment for HIV

There is no cure for HIV, but it can be controlled. Treatment for HIV is called “antiretroviral medicines” or ART. ART can help you live a long and happy life when taken the right way, every day.

How to prevent spreading HIV to others

You can take these steps to stop spreading HIV to others:

  • Get tested for HIV and start treatment as early as possible
  • Tell anyone you have sex with that you have HIV
  • Use a condom every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex
  • Do not share razors or toothbrushes
  • Do not share drug needles or syringes

What is AIDS?

When you are in the last stage of HIV infection your immune system it is at its weakest. Your immune system is damaged and you will have severe illnesses like cancer. This is called AIDS. AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

For more information about HIV/AIDS, you can visit:


What is Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C or Hep C is a virus that harms the liver. The liver is an organ in the body that helps you digest, absorb and process food. You can get hepatitis C from contact with blood infected with hepatitis C. Examples of contact include:

  • Sharing drug needles
  • Using infected needles for tattooing, acupuncture, or piercings
  • Sharing toothbrushes, razors, or other things that could have blood on them
  • Having had a blood transfusion in the United States before 1990 (after that time, blood banks started testing donated blood for hepatitis C)
  • Having sex with someone who is infected
  • Being born to a mother who has Hep C

What Are Symptoms of Hepatitis C?

Most people with hepatitis C do not have symptoms. When symptoms do occur, you may notice:

  • Feeling tired or week
  • Lack of hunger
  • Nausea
  • Muscle or joint aches
  • Weight loss

As time goes on, you may notice other symptoms. Many people who have hep C have chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Testing for Hepatitis C

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that the following persons get tested for Hepatitis (Hep) C:

  • Adults born from 1945 through 1965 should be tested once (without prior ascertainment of Hep C factors)
  • Persons who:
    • Currently inject drugs
    • Ever injected drugs, including those who injected once or a few times many years ago
    • Have certain medical conditions, including persons:
      • who received clotting factor concentrates produced before 1987
      • who were ever on long-term hemodialysis
      • with persistently abnormal alanine aminotransferase levels (ALT)
      • who have HIV infection
    • Were prior recipients of transfusions or organ transplants, including persons who:
      • were notified that they received blood from a donor who later tested positive for HCV infection
      • received a transfusion of blood, blood components, or an organ transplant before July 1992
  • Hep C testing based on a recognized exposure is recommended for:
    • Healthcare, emergency medical, and public safety workers after needle sticks, sharps, or mucosal exposures to HCV-positive blood
    • Children born to HCV-positive women


Treatment depends on what type of hepatitis C you have. There are different medicines to treat hepatitis C.

You may also take these steps for a healthier liver:

  • Avoid alcohol
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Get vaccinated for hepatitis A and B
  • Get vaccinated for pneumonia, the flu and other diseases
  • Ask your doctor about taking over-the-counter pain medicines (these medicines can sometime damage the liver).

For more information, visit:


What is Asthma?

Asthma is a lung disease that can make it hard to breathe. Asthma may cause wheezing (whistling sound when breathing), chest tightness, shortness of breath and coughing.  Asthma is a serious illness, but it can be treated.

Causes of Asthma Symptoms

  • Cigarette smoke, air pollution, chemicals, sprays (such as hair spray)
  • Respiratory infections like a cold, sinus infection, the flu, bronchitis or pneumonia
  • Allergies – foods or environmental (such as dust, tree pollen or animal fur)
  • Physical activity such as exercise or yard work

What can you do to help yourself?

  • If you are a smoker, stop smoking. The Arizona Smoker’s Helpline, ASHLine, is a free resource to help you quit smoking and using tobacco. Call 1-800-55-66-222 to get started.
  • See your doctor regularly. If you are not feeling well, don’t wait! Work with your doctor to develop an asthma action plan. You can also call our 24 Hour Nurse Assistance Line at 855-354-9006 for advice.
  • Avoid things that you know make your asthma worse.
  • Get your vaccines, like pneumonia, flu and Tdap. Ask your doctor which vaccines you need. Vaccines are available through your doctor, county health department or local pharmacy.
  • Use your inhalers and other medicines as prescribed by your doctor. Daily (maintenance) inhalers, such as steroid inhalers, are used to keep asthma under control. These should be used every day. Rescue inhalers, such as albuterol, are usually used only when you need them. If you need to use a rescue inhaler every day, you should let your doctor know.
  • If you are overweight, it may help to lose weight.
  • Take a Healthy Living (CDSMP) workshop to learn how to manage your health. For information, talk to your case manager or go to:
  • Get a free cell phone, minutes and texts through SafeLink so you can talk to your providers and get information about your health. Talk to your case manager or go to:

More Information:

  • American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology. Information on Asthma, including symptoms and management.
  • Health Choice Integrated Care. Information on asthma and other health conditions, member services, provider locator, and more.


What is COPD?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. The airways that carry air within your lung become narrow and damaged. This makes you feel out of breath and tired.

COPD is a serious illness that cannot be cured. Your doctor can offer treatments that can help.

What causes COPD?

Smoking is a key factor in development of COPD. You can also get COPD from breathing in toxic fumes or gasses.

What are sings of COPD?

At first, you may not experience any symptoms. As your conditions worsen you may notice:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing (making a whistling or squeaking noise when you breathe)
  • Coughing and phlegm (mucus)
  • Chest tightness

If you have had COPD for a while you may have increased risk for:

  • Infections, such as pneumonia
  • Lung cancer
  • Heart problems

Testing for COPD

Your doctor can give you a test called a “spirometry” to check for COPD. This test measures how much air you blow out of your lungs and how fast you can blow. Your doctor may have you use an inhaler to open your airways. You will then blow into the tube again.

Treatment for COPD

There is no cure for COPD. But lifestyle changes and treatments can help you feel better and slow the progress of the disease. If you smoke, stopping can be the most important thing you can do if you have COPD. Quitting will slow your disease and help you feel better. You can also help your symptoms by getting the flu and pneumonia vaccine every fall. Preventing these infections will also help your lungs.

Your doctor may use some of the following as types of treatments:

  • Medicines
  • Oxygen- If your disease gets worse, you might need to use oxygen.
  • Pulmonary rehab – In pulmonary rehab, you will learn exercises and ways to breathe that can help your symptoms.

For more information, you can visit:

Source: NIH; National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute