March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Recommended colorectal cancer screenings—start earlier than you might think. Many people with early stages of colorectal cancer experience no symptoms.  This disease is preventable, treatable, and beatable. Most colorectal cancer starts as precancerous polyps, meaning that doctors can stop colorectal cancer before it starts. 

Start screening at age 45 if you are at average risk. In 2021, the U.S. Preventive Task Force (USPSTF) lowered the recommended colorectal cancer screening age from 50 to 45.  If you are at increased risk, you may need to be screened sooner or more frequently – talk with your doctor as soon as you can.

According to the American Cancer Society One in three people in the US who should get tested for this type of cancer have never been screened.

Early detection of colorectal cancer can mean Better Outcomes: more treatment options and more effective treatment.

Learn more about colorectal cancer and talk to your medical provider about the best screening option for you.

Additional source

CDC, What should I know about colorectal cancer screening?

Smoking and Heart Disease

You APWU Health Plan includes access to health management programs to help you quit tabacco. Our health management programs help protect your well-being and help you live a healthier life-all with no out-of-pocket costs in most cases.

Enroll in a Consumer Driven Option health management program by contacting UnitedHealthcare 1-800-718-1299 or log in to your member website Enroll in a High Option health management program by calling Cigna/CareAllies at 1-800-582-1314.

Consider signing up for a tobacco cessation program to help you move beyond tobacco and take control of your health.

#OurHearts are healthier when we quit smoking together
#OurHearts are healthier when we quit smoking together. Smokers are up to 4x more likely to develop heart disease or to have a stroke, compared to nonsmokers. But it pays to quit. Just 1 year after quitting, your heart attack risk drops sharply. Ask your family and friends for support or  join a support group. Tell your family, friends, and coworkers that you're quitting and you want their help. Ask them not to smoke around you. They might catch the bug too: Research has shown that people are much more likely to quit if their spouse, friend, or sibling stops smoking.

Are You Heart Smart?

What to Know for a Healthier Heart

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. One in five deaths is due to heart disease, even though the disease is largely preventable.[1]

Keeping your heart healthy starts with living a heart-healthy lifestyle. But first, you need to get smart about your heart. Knowing what causes heart disease, what puts you at risk for it, and how you can reduce those risks can help you make informed decisions to protect your heart and keep it strong.

Want to test your knowledge? Take this short Heart Smart Quiz:

Heart Smart Quiz

  1. True or False? High blood pressure is also known as hypertension and occurs when your blood pressure is consistently 130/80 mm Hg or higher.
  2. True or False? Your body mass index, or BMI, shows if your weight is in a healthy range for your height and is one measure of your future risk for heart disease.
  3. True or False? Cholesterol helps make hormones, vitamin D, and substances to help you digest foods. Your body needs it for good health, but in the right amounts.
  4. True or False? Eating lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, using fat-free or low-fat dairy products, and limiting foods high in saturated fat or sugar-sweetened beverages are all part of a heart-healthy diet.
  5. True or False? Not getting enough sleep or getting poor quality sleep on a regular basis increases the risk of having high blood pressure, heart disease, and other medical conditions.
  6. True or False? To strengthen their heart, adults should aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as brisk walking each week.

Answer Key: All answers are True.

How did you do? Knowing your own risk factors for heart disease can help guide your lifestyle choices, so talk to your healthcare provider to make sure you’re clear. Just as important: know your numbers. Your weight, waist size, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels all affect your heart. If they aren’t where they should be, make a pledge to begin improving them.

Adding more physical activity to your day, eating a heart-healthy diet, managing stress, getting enough quality sleep, and not smoking can put you on the path to better heart health.

Learn more about heart disease prevention from The Heart Truth® at and download the Heart Smart Basics fact sheet to improve your knowledge about heart health.


Article courtesy of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute https://www.nhlbi.nih.ov/education/american-heart-month

February is American Heart Month!

Did you know that people who have close relationships at home, work, or in their community tend to be healthier and live longer? One reason, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), is that we’re more successful at meeting our health goals when we work on them with others. NHLBI launched the #OurHearts movement to inspire us to protect and strengthen our hearts with the support of others.

Here are some facts, how-to tips, and resources to inspire you to join with others, even if you can’t be physically together, to improve your heart health.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Most middle-aged and young adults have one or more risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or being a smoker or overweight. Having multiple risk factors increases your risk for heart disease.

Why Connecting is Good for Your Heart

Feeling connected with others and having positive, close relationships benefit our overall health, including our blood pressure and weight. Having people in our lives who motivate and care for us helps, as do feelings of closeness and companionship.

Follow these heart-healthy lifestyle tips to protect your heart. It will be easier and more successful if you work on them with others, including by texting or phone calls if needed.

  • Be more physically active.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat a nutritious diet.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Get 7-9 hours of quality sleep.
  • Track your heart health stats.

You don’t have to make big changes all at once. Small steps will get you where you want to go.

Move more

Invite family, friends, colleagues, or members of your community to join you in your efforts to be more physically active:

  • Ask a colleague to walk “with you” on a regular basis, put the date on both your calendars, and text or call to make sure you both get out for a walk.
  • Get a friend or family member to sign up for the same online exercise class, such as a dance class. Make it a regular date!
  • Grab your kids, put on music, and do jumping jacks, skip rope, or dance in your living room or yard.

How much is enough? Aim for at least 2½ hours of physical activity eachweek—that’s just 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. In addition, do muscle strengthening exercises 2 days a week. Can’t carve out a lot of time in your day? Don’t chuck your goal, chunk it! Try doing 10 minutes of physical activity at least three times a day. NHLBI’s Move More fact sheet has ideas to get and keep you moving.

Aim for a healthy weight

Find someone in your friend group, at work, or in your family who also wants to reach or maintain a healthy weight. (If you’re overweight, even a small weight loss of 5–10 percent helps your health.) Check in with them regularly to stay motivated. Agree to do healthy activities, like walking or cooking a healthy meal, at the same time, even if you can’t be together. Share low-calorie, low-sodium recipes. Check out NHLBI’s Aim for a Healthy Weight web page.

Eat heart-healthy

We tend to eat like our friends and family, so ask others close to you to join in your effort to eat healthier. Follow NHLBI’s Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan. Research shows that, compared to a typical American diet, it lowers high blood pressure and improves cholesterol levels. Find delicious recipes at NHLBI’s Heart-Healthy Eating web page.

Quit smoking

To help you quit, ask others for support or join an online support group. Research shows that people are much more likely to quit if their spouse, friend, or sibling does. Social support online can help you quit. All states have quit lines with trained counselors—call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). You’ll find many free resources to help you quit, such as apps, a motivational text service, and a chat line at and

If you need extra motivation to quit, consider those around you: Breathing other people’s smoke, called secondhand smoke, is dangerous. Many adult nonsmokers die of stroke, heart disease, and lung cancer caused by secondhand smoke.

Manage stress

Managing stress helps your heart health. Set goals with a friend or family member to do a relaxing activity every day, like walking, yoga, or meditation, or participate in an online stress-management program together. Physical activity also helps reduce stress. Talk to a qualified mental health provider or someone else you trust.

Improve sleep

Sleeping 7–9 hours a night helps to improve heart health. De-stressing will help you sleep, as does getting a 30-minute daily dose of sunlight. Take a walk instead of a late afternoon nap! Family members and friends: remind each other to turn off the screen and stick to a regular bedtime. Instead of looking at your phone or the TV before bed, relax by listening to music, reading, or taking a bath.

Track Your Heart Health Stats, Together

Keeping a log of your blood pressure, weight goals, physical activity, and if you have diabetes, your blood sugars, will help you stay on a heart-healthy track. Ask your friends or family to join you in the effort. Check out NHLBI’s My Heart Health Tracker.

For more information about heart health, visit

Article courtesy of the National Institute of Health

Tick-Tock goes the clock for Open Season!

Don’t wait till the last minute, check out our great benefits today, especially those almost to good to be true (but aren’t) *APWU Consumer Driven Rates! Family $35.01, Self plus one $32.09, Self only $14.77 a pay period

*95% contractually negotiated discount applies to active Career APWU Bargaining Unit employees, who have been enrolled in an FEHB plan for one year

Successful Food Drive for Maryland Food Bank

The APWU Health Plan The 2022 Virtual Food Drive ended on June 17th. As the APWU Health Plan Director, I would like to personally thank those who donated this year to our food drive. Thank you for showing kindness and compassion to our Maryland neighbors facing hunger.

Our goal was set at $2,500 and we collected $2,728 that will go directly to families in need.

I appreciate your support. I am so proud of the APWU Health Plan employees for making this drive a success!