Cardiovascular Health

Sarah Jane Rodriguez

July 1, 2020

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(This article first appeared in the July/August 2020 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

One in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure, but only about half of these adults have it under control. High blood pressure – or hypertension – can damage your blood vessels, lead to kidney failure, and increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Take control of your cardiovascular health today. Enter into a partnership with your health care provider and primary care physician. Become an active member of your health care team. Below are a few steps you can take towards better cardiovascular health.

Annual Checkups

Make your annual checkup a priority. There is no charge for this visit one time each year when you utilize in-network providers. Use a milestone date such as a birthday or anniversary to ensure that this visit is scheduled on a yearly basis.

Understanding your Numbers

Hypertension often has no symptoms, so be sure to check your blood pressure regularly. Understanding your results is the first step to managing high blood pressure. Make sure this is part of your discussion with your physician at each annual checkup. Blood pressure records as two numbers:

  • Systolic blood pressure: The first number – measures the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats.
  • Diastolic blood pressure: The second number – measures the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart rests between beats.

A blood pressure of less than 120/80 mm Hg is considered normal.

Lifestyle Changes – The Big Three

If you need to make lifestyle changes, it is never too late. Participate in activities that you are genuinely inter- Cardiovascular Health Sarah Jane Rodriguez, Director ested in; you will be more likely to stick with it. Changes that matter can provide multiple benefits, all of which contribute to lower blood pressure and cardiovascular health. Use your imagination, but most importantly have fun and talk with your health care provider. The possibilities are endless. To get you started, the following are steps you can take to lower your blood pressure:

Stop smoking: Today is always a good day to start quitting. The APWU Health Plan offers a Tobacco Cessation Program. Health Plan members have access to phone counseling, group therapy, and educational sessions with a doctor – all at no charge. Also, at no charge, members can obtain FDA-approved tobacco dependence drugs through mail order. This benefit includes the cessation of both tobacco and e-cigarettes. High Option members call Cigna/CareAllies at 1-800-582-1314; Consumer Driven Option members call UnitedHealthcare at 1-800-718-1299.

Whittle your waistline: Shedding even a few pounds can help lower your blood pressure. Health Plan members can participate in weight management programs at no charge. High Option members can visit an in-network registered Dietician/ Nutritionist at no charge to the member. Consumer Driven Option members have access to Rally, a website and mobile app dedicated to providing members with simple steps to help with a healthy lifestyle, including weight management. Fill out a health survey and Connect with a Coach to create a personalized platform. Visit

Reduce stress: Learn to cope with stress in healthy ways. Do not try to do too much, learn to say “no,” and make time to relax. The APWU Health Plan behavioral providers give members access to various resources for emotional wellness, prevention, and recovery through both website education and personal counseling services.

These behavioral health providers are dedicated to providing services to help manage and improve stress. High Option members are enrolled in Beacon Health Options; visit for more information. Consumer Driven Option members are enrolled in UHC Behavioral Health Solutions; visit for more information.

For more information on healthy lifestyle changes, visit

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