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WorkLife Wisdom: Heart Health Awareness Month

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.

To help prevent heart disease and type 2 diabetes, you should control your cholesterol and blood pressure by watching your weight, eating healthy, getting active, quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke, only drinking alcohol in moderation, and managing stress.

You are at higher risk for heart disease if:

  • You are a woman over age 55
  • You are a man over age 45
  • Your father or brother had heart disease before age 55
  • Your mother or sister had heart disease before age 65

As you get older, your risk for heart disease and heart attack increases. When people talk about heart disease, they are usually talking about coronary heart disease (CHD). It’s also called coronary artery disease (CAD). This is the most common type of heart disease.

When someone has CHD, the coronary arteries (tubes) that take blood to the heart are narrow or blocked. This happens when cholesterol and fatty material, called plaque, build up inside the arteries. Plaque is caused by fat and cholesterol in the blood, high blood pressure, smoking, and too much sugar in the blood (usually because of diabetes). When plaque blocks an artery, it’s hard for blood to flow to the heart. A blocked artery can cause chest pain or a heart attack.

A heart attack happens when blood flow to the heart is suddenly blocked. Part of the heart may die if the person doesn’t get help quickly. Common signs of a heart attack include:

  • Chest pain (or feeling pressure, squeezing, or fullness in your chest)
  • Pain or discomfort in the upper body – like the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach (above the belly button)
  • Trouble breathing (while resting or being active)
  • Feeling sick to your stomach or throwing up
  • Feeling dizzy, light-headed, or unusually tired
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat

Don’t ignore changes in how you feel
Signs of a heart attack often come on suddenly. But sometimes, they develop slowly – hours, days, or even weeks before a heart attack happens.

Talk to your doctor if you feel tired for several days, or if other health problems (like pain or trouble breathing) bother you more than usual.

For more information on heart disease visit Healthfinder.gov.

Accessible 24/7, your FAA WorkLife Solutions Program offers many resources and services to help you and your family live healthier. Options available through the program include convenience services to help with everyday events needing your time and attention, child and elder care options, legal and financial services, in-person counseling, and much more. Call your program at 800-234-1327, TTY Users: 800-456-4006, or log on to www.MagellanHealth.com/Member to begin accessing these services today.