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Be heart smart

American Heart Month begins

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tips to help you live a heart-healthy lifestyle.

February is American Heart Month, a time to learn more about heart disease, the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States.

The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease, which affects blood flow to the heart.

Heart attacks occur when the heart muscle doesn’t receive enough blood. The more time that passes without restoring blood flow, the higher the chance for heart damage.

The USPS Health and Wellness team encourages you to know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, which include chest pain or discomfort; feeling weak, light-headed, unusually tired or faint; pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck or back; shortness of breath; and nausea or vomiting.

If you have these symptoms, call 911 immediately. The sooner medical treatment can be administered, the better the chances of surviving a heart attack.

The three most common risk factors for heart disease are high cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking. Half of all Americans have at least one of these risk factors, which are often asymptomatic, so it’s important to talk to your physician and know your levels.

To live a heart-healthy lifestyle, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests six strategies:

• Know your risks and family history.

• Make healthy food choices.

• Move more by getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week.

• If you smoke, quit.

• Take medications as directed by your healthcare provider.

• Rethink your drinks and substitute water for sugary drinks and alcohol.

The CDC and USPS February Wellness Toolkit websites have more information.