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Tiptop tickers

American Heart Month begins Feb. 1

The three most common risk factors for heart disease are high cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking.

February is American Heart Month, a time to learn about the causes of cardiovascular disease and how to prevent it.

The USPS Health and Wellness team encourages employees to use the month to learn more about living a heart-healthy lifestyle and to address the risks for developing coronary disease.

The three most common risk factors are high cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking. Family history can play a role, too.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests several strategies for keeping your heart in tiptop shape:

• Make heart-healthy food choices;

• Get at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week;

• Know your numbers (blood pressure, body mass index, good and bad cholesterol) and family history;

• Rethink your drinks — substitute water for sugary drinks and alcohol;

• If you smoke, quit.

It is also important to know the signs of heart attack and stroke because when more time  passes from the onset of symptoms to treatment, more damage can be done.

Heart attack symptoms include chest pain; feeling weak, light-headed, unusually tired or faint; jaw, neck or back pain; shortness of breath; nausea; and vomiting.

Stroke symptoms include sudden dizziness, headache, confusion and numbness in the face, arm or leg; loss of balance; trouble walking; and trouble seeing in one or both eyes.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. And yet, according to the National Institutes of Health, it is largely preventable.

The CDC and USPS February Wellness Toolkit have more information on heart health and steps you can take to improve it.