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Focusing on Blood Pressure and Diabetes for Men’s Health Week

June 14th through the 20th Men’s Health Week, and we wanted to take the opportunity to see how preventing or managing certain conditions can go a long way toward keeping you healthy. 

Blood pressure 

High blood pressure raises your risk for heart disease and stroke. Your doctor examines your systolic and diastolic pressures, which are measured in millimeters of mercury (abbreviated as mmHg). 

The normal range is: 

  • Systolic: less than 120 mmHg; and 
  • Diastolic: less than 80 mmHg. 

High blood pressure can also damage the tiny blood vessels in your eyes and restrict blood flow to your retina, leading to blurred vision or blindness. It can cause fluid to build under your retina, which distorts and sometimes impairs vision. 

And if high blood pressure completely blocks the flow of blood to your optic nerve, it can kill the nerve cells and cause temporary or permanent vision loss. High blood pressure also can lead to stroke. 

If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe medication and lifestyle changes. 

You can have your blood pressure checked during a preventive screening, which is available at no cost to State Health Plan primary members. To learn more about the preventive screening benefit, visit


About 15 percent of men in the U.S. have diabetes, according to National Diabetes Statistics Report. There are several types of blood-sugar tests to determine if you have prediabetes, Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. Normal, nonfasting blood glucose readings are between 70 and 140 milligrams per deciliter. 

If you’re diagnosed with diabetes, a diabetes educator can help you: 

  • Develop a healthy eating plan. 
  • Learn to test your blood sugar and record the results. 
  • Recognize the signs of high or low blood sugar and what to do about it. 
  • Monitor your feet, skin and eyes. 
  • Manage stress and deal with diabetes care. 

Diabetes can also affect your vision. With this diagnosis comes a chance of developing retinopathy, a disease that results when high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels in your eyes. It can harm your vision and result in blindness. Diabetes also increases the risk of other serious vision conditions, such as cataracts and glaucoma. 

Talk to your network physician if you have diabetes or think you may be at risk. Let your doctor know you’re interested in meeting with a diabetes educator, and he or she can refer you. 

You can also get one-on-one coaching from a health coach to help you manage diabetes. For details, call 855.838.5897

If you have diabetes, you may also qualify for No-Pay Copay, a program that provides certain generic medications to treat your condition at no cost to you. To learn more about diabetes education and No-Pay Copay, visit 

What you can do 

Your risk of developing these common health issues and the potential vision complications that may result can be reduced with healthy lifestyle choices: 

  • Maintain a healthy body weight 
  • Stop smoking 
  • Exercise regularly 
  • Eat a healthy diet 
  • Visit regularly with your physician and your eye doctor for thorough check-ups 

Have questions about your vision? Find an eye doctor near you, and schedule an eye exam today. 

DHEC Celebrates World Oceans Day by Spotlighting Adopt-a-Beach Program

DHEC is celebrating World Oceans Day on June 8. Established by the United Nations, the day recognizes the role of oceans in our everyday life. It also inspires actions to protect the ocean and encourage sustainable use of marine resources.  

The ocean provides a myriad of benefits including food, medicine, climate regulation, natural resources, jobs, and recreation. In addition, ocean environments are home to countless living organisms, from bacteria and fungi to fish and marine mammals. Many threatened and endangered species live within the oceans, including the sea turtles that nest on South Carolina beaches.  

The ocean is also critically important to South Carolina’s economy. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), South Carolina’s ocean economic sectors, including living marine resources, marine construction, ship and boat building, marine transportation, offshore mineral extraction, tourism and recreation, accounted for over 87,000 jobs, over 3,600 establishments$2.1 billion in wages, and $5.4 billion in GDP in 2018. 

At the same time, the world’s oceans are currently facing significant threats, including pollution, overfishing, warming ocean temperatures, and habitat loss. It is estimated that 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year.  

According to NOAA, while plastics break into smaller and smaller pieces over time, they never completely degrade. The remaining tiny plastic particles are referred to as microplastics, and they’re ubiquitous in ocean and coastal environments around the world.  

Plastics and other types of debris pose a threat to marine animals, including threatened, endangered, and commercially valuable species. Marine debris can also impact recreation, navigation, and public health. 

DHEC’s Adopt-a-Beach program is a volunteer-based cleanup program that aims to reduce litter along the state’s coastline.   

Over the past 5 years, Adopt-A-Beach partners have removed an estimated 5,800 pounds of marine debris from South Carolina beaches. Cigarette butts are the most commonly found type of marine debris on South Carolina beaches – over 58,700 have been logged and removed by Adopt-A-Beach partners in the last 5 years. 

For more information on how to participate in the program, visit the Beach Cleanup page at MyCoast South Carolina

Through the Adopt-a-Beach program, DHEC displays the core value of Promoting Teamwork. By celebrating World Oceans Day, we are demonstrating the agency strategy of Education and Engagement.  

Looking for other ways to be an ocean steward and make a difference?  

Consider the seafood you eat and choose sustainable options when possible. Consult South Carolina Aquarium’s Good Catch, a resource that generates awareness and leads communities in support of local fisheries and consumption of responsibly harvested seafood. 

As you celebrate the world’s oceans today, check out these other cool ocean facts from NOAA. 

  • The ocean covers over 70% of the Earth’s surface and includes over 96% of the Earth’s water. 
  • Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure on Earth and can be seen from the moon!  
  • The deepest part of the ocean is in the Mariana Trench, nearly 7 miles beneath the waves!  
  • Coral reefs cover only 1/50th of the ocean floor, but about one quarter of all the marine species make coral reefs their home.  
  • No light penetrates the ocean at depths greater than 3,280 feet.  
  • Aided by deep diving rovers and remote sensing cameras, scientists are still discovering new species beneath the waves.  
  • The Gulf Stream transports more water than all of the Earth’s rivers combined.  
  • The mid-ocean ridge crisscrosses the globe for over 40,000 miles and is the largest geological feature on Earth.  
  • About 95% of the ocean remains unexplored! 

Nursing Homes: Apply for CMP Funds

DHEC’s Healthcare Quality would like to remind all nursing homes that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid’s (CMS) Civil Money Penalty Reinvestment (CMP) Program is an amazing funding opportunity to apply for that can provide aid and resources to nursing home facilities in South Carolina.

CMP funds may be used for, but not limited to, the following:

  • Activities that protect or improve the quality of care or quality of life for residents
  • Facility improvement initiatives, such as training or technical assistance
  • Assistance to support and protect residents of a facility that closes or is decertified
  • Culture change/quality of life
  • Projects that support resident and family councils and other consumer involvement in assuring quality care in facilities
  • Resident transition due to facility closure or downsizing
  • COVID-19 specific funding for virtual technology, such as iPads and tablets
  • COVID-19 specific funding for tents and shelters for outdoor visitation

More information regarding the CMP Program and its different application types, including COVID-19 Communicative Technology Funding and COVID-19 In-Person Visitation Aids Funding, is available in DHEC’sNursing Home Civil Money Penalty (CMP) Reinvestment Projects web page.

Contact with any questions regarding the program.

DHEC Highlights National Kidney Month

March is National Kidney Month. DHEC recognizes everyone living with kidney disease, healthcare professionals striving for treatment advancements and cures, and the renal dialysis facilities across South Carolina that continue to provide care to patients in need.

This year’s focus is self-sufficiency and helping people take charge of their health by educating themselves on the many factors that go into managing kidney disease.

In the past decade, the number of South Carolinians currently on dialysis and new cases has increased by 15%. Kidney-related deaths from nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis remain the 8th leading cause of death in the state. [BJ1] Many cases of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) go undetected for long periods of time and are often overlooked until moderate to severe symptoms appear. CKD is progressive and can put you at risk for serious health complications, including kidney failure.

Kidneys are vital to our health. While each is only about the size of a computer mouse, they filter all blood in your body every 30 minutes in order to remove waste, toxins, and excess fluids. They also help control blood pressure, stimulate production of red blood cells, and keep your bones healthy. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more kidney-friendly tips and related information.

Follow these healthy lifestyle tips to take charge of your kidney health:

  1. Meet regularly with your health care team. Staying connected with your doctor, whether in-person or using telehealth via phone or computer, can help you maintain your kidney health.
  2. Manage blood pressure and monitor blood glucose levels. Work with your health care team to develop a plan to meet your blood pressure goals and check your blood glucose level regularly if you have diabetes.
  3. Take medicine as prescribed and avoid NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen. Your pharmacist and doctor need to know about all the medicines you take.
  4. Aim for a healthy weight. Create a healthy meal plan and consider working with your doctor to develop a weight-loss plan that works for you.
  5. Reduce stress and make physical activity part of your routine. Consider healthy stress-reducing activities and get at least 30 minutes or more of physical activity each day.
  6. Make time for sleep. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.
  7. Quit smoking. If you smoke, take steps to quit.

It may seem difficult, but small changes can go a long way to keeping your kidneys and you healthier for longer!

For those currently afflicted with CKD and are looking for assistance in finding the right treatment plan or dialysis options, DHEC’s Healthcare Quality team strongly encourages those individuals to locate renal dialysis facilities near them by using our Find A Facility application. Contact information, licensing details, and a myriad of other data are available when searching through the GIS map.

Regulation 61-97, Standards for Licensing Renal Dialysis Facilities, was updated last year and its amendments became legally effective in the summer of 2020. The changes made to the regulation have allowed patients, families, renal dialysis facility staff, and our community to benefit from the improvements specified in the regulation. DHEC encourages the public to read the regulation to learn more about state-approved dialysis management, facility licensure requirements, current provider language, and a variety of useful information regarding our state-licensed renal dialysis facilities.

 [BJ1]Source, (most current data published by DHEC):

DHEC Celebrates National Athletic Trainers Month

March is National Athletic Training Month (NATM) and DHEC would like to celebrate how Athletic Trainers (ATs) across South Carolina impact healthcare and improve lives. Athletic Trainers are highly skilled healthcare professionals who provide preventative services, emergency care, therapeutic intervention, and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. ATs are educated on handling a myriad of medical events, including catastrophic injuries such as spinal cord injuries, sudden cardiac arrest, heat illness, and concussions. With over 1,050 state-certified Athletic Trainers working in South Carolina today, this is a career field that is steadily growing and yet still enigmatic to the general public.

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