Heart to Heart.

Become a Heart Health Success Story

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. It beats out all other diseases for this distinction among both men and women. That’s why it’s so important to know where you stand as far as your risk for heart disease. A cardiac risk profile (CRP) gives you this information, while an HRA (health risk appraisal) puts it to practical use. Both of these tools are available free of charge to Federal employees.

Share Your Success Story
Heart to Heart

The Federal Privacy Act protects the results of your CRP and HRA, but if your CRP/HRA experience is making a difference in your life, you might help others by telling them about it. Has it already made a difference? Is it shaping your future plans?—or that of a friend? We encourage anyone who would like to talk about their experience to email a short statement to the Center for Health Communications. With your permission, we will share some of those stories online to encourage others to take care of their hearts.

CRP: Getting a Clearer Picture

A cardiac risk profile (or CRP) can give you a snapshot of some of the factors that can put you most at risk for heart disease—things like elevated blood levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose. You can get your CRP from your health care provider or, if you’re a Federal employee, from the health unit at your worksite, where available.
For more information on CRP, go to www.FOH.hhs.gov/CRP.

HRA: Getting Guidance

An HRA is a short (20-minute) survey that you can take online from your own desk that reviews your family health history and daily lifestyle practices. Combined with results from your CRP, it will help map out potential health risks, including those affecting your heart. That will give you the power to make your own decisions to lower your risk of heart disease.
For more information on HRAs, go to www.FOH.hhs.gov/HRA.

Getting Started

So, make an appointment with your FOH Health Unit or health care provider to take your CRP today. You can then use the results from the CRP to plug into your HRA.

Lower Your Risk to Create Your Success Story

Some things that may lower your risk for heart disease include:

Becoming more active

A good place to start is with at least 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity, like a brisk walk, every day. This can be broken down into smaller segments (for example, three segments of ten minutes each) as long as they add up to 30 minutes or more per day. Find some physical activity that you like doing and enjoy the many health benefits of getting physical.

Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight

Use our BMI calculator to the right to see if you are overweight. If you’re overweight (a BMI of 25 or higher), go to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's (NHLBI) web page for detailed information on losing weight.

Stopping smoking

There are many smoking cessation programs available. In fact, there may be one at your worksite health clinic. For information on cost-free tobacco cessation support for Federal employees, go to www.FOH.hhs.gov/QUIT.

Limiting alcohol consumption

If you drink alcohol, a general rule of thumb for better health is to keep it to one drink or less per day, if you’re a woman, and two drinks or less per day, if you’re a man. For more information on alcohol and heart disease, visit the American Heart Association’s page on Alcohol and Cardiovascular Disease.

For some, lifestyle changes may not have a big enough influence on lowering risk for heart disease. Talk to your healthcare provider about managing these conditions with medication, when necessary.

Know Your Numbers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends tracking your body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels to know where you stand regarding your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and other medical disorders.

Body Mass Index

Looking at your BMI can give the average person a good ballpark figure of their weight status and if any adjustments are needed. Use our BMI calculator to get your BMI.

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is a quick and easy measure of your heart and vascular health. Knowing these numbers can be a lifesaver. Systolic is the measure of pressure when the heart beats. It's usually the higher number. Diastolic is the measure of the pressure when the heart is relaxed.

Systolic Diastolic
Desirable less than 120 mmHG less than 80 mmHG
At risk (pre-hypertension) 120-139 mmHG 80-89 mmHG
High 140 mmHG or higher 90 mmHG or higher

Cholesterol and other blood lipids

Your cholesterol levels are another important indicator of heart health. A simple blood test can measure the different amounts of cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood. Your health care provider can then determine what steps should be taken to lower them, if they’re elevated.

Desirable levels
Total cholesterol Less than 200 mg/dL
LDL (“bad” cholesterol) Less than 100 mg/dL
HDL ("good" cholesterol) 40 mg/dL or higher
Triglycerides Less than 150 mg/dL

Blood Sugar

A test of your blood sugar levels after you’ve not eaten for 8 hours or more (a fasting glucose test) can give your health care provider an idea if you’re at risk for diabetes or may already be showing signs of the disease.

Desirable 99 mg/dL or lower
At risk (pre-diabetes) 100 to 125
Diabetes 126 or above

Start Now

You may wonder when’s a good time to start making changes to lowering your risk for heart disease. Why not right now? All it takes is some small changes in your attitude and the way you approach life. Enjoy your new life and encourage others with your success story.

  • Federal Occupational Health supports February's Wear Red campaign for Heart Health.
    Wear Red Promotional Poster.
  • Group shot of HUD office in support of Health Heart Disease Awareness.
    HUD staff in support of Heart Disease Awareness.
  • In this picture sitting is RoseAnn Brostoski RN, Nurse Associate, and Sandy Hartin, RN, Nurse Coordinator II.
    RoseAnn Brostoski RN, Nurse Associate, and Sandy Hartin, RN, Nurse Coordinator II from A64 FOH/IRS Kansas City celebrate their annual “National Wear Red Day.”
  • Sandra Hartin,RN, Nurse Coordinator II in Kansas City at FOH/IRS A64 discussing heart health with Stroke Survivor Chareese Ray.
    Sandra Hartin, RN, Nurse Coordinator II in Kansas City at FOH/IRS A64 discussing heart health with Stroke Survivor Chareese Ray.
  • self portrait of Edith Watson-Lotts, SSA
    "Wearing red in remembrance of my grandmother, mother, aunt and my oldest daughter, all of whom died from complications of Heart Disease." – Edith Watson-Lotts, SSA
  • Get Up! Man on exercise bike talks to female trainer.
    Yvonne Jobe in her HUD health unit, A65 in ATLANTA Georgia, celebrating Heart Health Month.
  • Dawn V. Koch and Ethel Draper in Atlanta wearing red.
    Dawn V. Koch and Ethel Draper in Atlanta wear red to celebrate Heart Health.
  • CHPS group shot wearing red.
    CHPS wears red in support of Heart Health Awareness.

Your Heart to Heart Stories

I highly encourage anyone who ever feels any chest “discomfort” or “tightness” in their chest to have it checked out immediately with a physician. I am a survivor of quadruple bypass surgery. I am one of the lucky ones. I contacted my family physician as soon as I had experienced a “tightness” in my chest while doing some gardening work. After a treadmill test (dubious results), a detailed physical examination by a cardiologist (he detected nothing), and finally an angiogram (test of last resort), the angiogram revealed 95% blockage at the branch points of two coronary arteries. I was immediately scheduled for coronary bypass surgery; the location of the blockages precluded the use of stents. My surgeon told me I was a “walking widow-maker”. I was age 53 at the time (Nov. 2005), and had two kids at home (ages 10 and 15). My surgery occurred almost exactly one year after former President Clinton had the identical surgery. Fortunately, I did not have a heart attack, there was no detectable damage to my heart, and I am living a very healthy, robust life today. I am fairly athletic, never smoked, not obese, and had assumed I was at low risk for a heart attack. My blood tests several years prior to my surgery had suggested otherwise, but I assumed that those “risks” did not apply to me. Boy, was I wrong. In addition, both my parents had heart disease, and I subsequently learned that family history of heart disease is one of the top risk factors. After my surgery, I made some easy changes in my eating habits. I am now almost exclusively an “aquarian” (vegetarian + fish); no red meat or dairy products. The Director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was not as lucky as me; he died of a heart attack about three years ago while skiing in Colorado. He was the same age as me. So I highly encourage everyone to get their blood tested annually, understand the risk factors for heart disease (e.g., family history), and never discount a strange or different feeling in their chest area, especially after any form of exertion. I was able to walk out of the ICU under my own power 24 hours after my bypass surgery because I did not have a heart attack and had no heart damage. I was indeed a lucky one.
– Don Campton, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


"I was very pleased with the results of my Cardiac Risk Profile (CRP) screening today. Last year, I had the same screening and I found out that my triglycerides were nearly 600. My triglycerides are now down to 242! I realize I still have work to do to get my numbers down to optimum range (under 150), but because of my screenings and the help from the FOH staff, I was able to make some lifestyle changes to help save/prolong my life. Thank you for your support!"
– Civilian Employee, Air Force Materiel Command


"My test numbers were always good, but the weight had crept up over the years. Then one year my annual blood work revealed a lipid panel so high that it was rechecked to see if it was an error. I thought I had a healthy diet already so it was a real surprise. I always ate three meals a day, and had snacks between, but I didn’t eat fatty foods. I already ate multi-grains. I didn’t drink a lot of empty calories like soda. But clearly, it wasn’t enough. So, the diet started and it went like this: keep it real, with regular food and no starving or skipped meals.
STRATEGIES:

And It wasn’t just what I stopped eating, but also what I added to my diet.

There was nothing drastic and there was no starving. But slowly the weight came down, about 2 lbs. a month. The next year my lipid panel was back to normal and my BMI was under 25."
– Nancy Horan, FOH Medical Employability


"I have always exercised however now that I am over 61, I have implement the following regimen:

– Jesus Lopez, CPA


"Over a year ago my weight was about 228 and my blood glucose level was 123. My physician told me it was time to get serious about a healthy diet and weight loss to lower this reading and avoid developing diabetes. I have lost about 15 to 18 pounds (I fluctuate) and my blood glucose has dropped to about 107. My eating habits have changed and I do daily walking exercise. I even wash my car for exercise (other than in the winter). I still have work to do to further lower my weight and the blood glucose levels."
– Stanley Sokolove, Policy Specialist


"I was a daily coffee drinker at Starbucks. I love coffee, but realized I was drinking a lot of calories. I started reducing the number of pumps of mocha I got from six to two, switched to skim milk, and decreased my visits to two times a week. I know this does not seem like a huge change, but I have lost 5 lbs. and several inches around my mid-section. This, with exercise, 30 minutes, three days a week, and an hour the remaining days has resulted in a more energetic, sharper person. I also started Zumba — WOW is all I can say. Ladies and gentleman, this is one well spent hour of dancing. Join me and ZUMBA your way to a fit you. That is from my heart to your heart.
– Stacia L. Johnson


"My father, Herbert E. Smith, was one of the oldest enlistees in the WWII U.S. Marine Corps. He also was one of the first to receive an artificial heart valve at Cincinnati Veteran’s Administration Hospital in 1965. Despite his preponderance towards behaviors labeled, ‘type A personality,” he was able to live a very high quality life, an additional seven and then some years after his operation. My mother always instilled in us the importance of giving back, so annually, in February, we were given the task to collect for the heart research fund in our small, rural neighborhood.

Regarding Cardiac Risk Profiles, in my role as client advocate and wellness teacher, I am passionate about working with clients to identify their strengths in nutritional intake and asking for their story of what is the type of exercise they are most comfortable and willing to explore on a routine basis. We offer the new technology of Cholestech finger stick to get reliable fasting cholesterol/glucose readout within fifteen minutes of their scheduled visit to our Occupational Health Center A2A.

It is a privilege and challenge to work in a capacity that is able to reach a large population of individuals in their work environment as they strive to have a healthy, productive life."
– Sylvia Marianne Smith, RN


"I generally obtain an annual checkup in which doctors order various blood tests. My tests revealed an increase in cholesterol of 242. My doctor prescribed a statin medication, and I was on my way to become healthier. Prior to filling the prescription, I researched the side effects and decided I did not want to endure the risks of taking the medication and decided against it. I worked out regularly at the gym, but decided to change my workout by adding a spin (cycling) class three times a week for an hour. The intensity of my workout was enhanced and I enjoyed the cycling more than running. It wasn't easy to change and remain on this routine, so I prayed for help in strengthening me to become disciplined in going to bed earlier and rising earlier to attend my class and work out 5-6 days per week.

I also started making 4-6 servings of Irish oats in advance and refrigerated until I was ready to eat a serving. Since so many of us work these days, it is a convenient way to either quickly heat a serving in the microwave before jetting out the door, or simply placing the unwarmed oatmeal into a container with its fixings and heat it at your leisure after arriving to work. I wanted to make my eating so healthy, that I cooked the oatmeal with skim milk instead of whole milk. I also added a handful of trail mix – almonds, raisins, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. I packed my lunch daily – lean chicken breast, tuna or salmon, a garden salad with a very small amount of vinaigrette style dressing. My morning snack is a handful of trail mix and about 4 oz of water, and my evening snack consists of 1 piece of fruit and 1 oz of low-fat cheese. I practiced a healthier style of eating and drinking plenty of water while taking a daily multi-vitamin and a fish oil supplement.

I attended my follow-up appointment within six weeks, and my doctor was amazed that not only was I eleven pounds lighter, but my cholesterol had decreased to 198. I continue to eat healthy, read, and tune into television and radio programs that promote healthy living as this is definitely a lifestyle change for me. My energy level has increased, the minor pain I previously experienced in my knee has subsided, and my spouse, family, and friends complimented me on how healthy I look. I now work out 3 days per week and have become more conscious of walking more, for example, parking my car at the farthest end of the parking lot at work, grocer, mall, etc.

I encourage all to start some type of "moving around" like short walks on breaks, or long brisk walks after work. Also, remember: 80% of your success is determined by what you eat.
– Crystal R. Moore

Poll Questions

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BMI Calculator

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BMI Weight Status
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5–24.9 Normal
25.0–29.9 Overweight
30.0 + Obese