4 Screening Tests You Should Get for Optimal Heart Health

The human heart is about the size of a person’s fist, but it’s one of the hardest-working organs in the body. It beats about 100,000 times per day, gives your body the oxygen and nutrients it needs, and is quite literally the ‘heart’ of your existence. Because of this, keeping your heart strong and healthy is one of the most important things you can do. While exercising and maintaining a healthy diet are keys to heart health, it’s also important to know your risk factors. Some risk factors like heredity and aging can’t be changed, but others like smoking and being overweight could be modified, treated or controlled. In addition to addressing your risk factors, you should get regular heart screenings starting around age 20 to keep your heart in check.

The American Heart Association recommends these four tests for optimal heart health:

Blood pressure screening
High blood pressure often occurs when the arteries lose their elasticity, and it can greatly increase one’s risk of heart disease and stroke. Since high blood pressure doesn’t usually present symptoms, blood pressure screenings are one of the most important things you can do for heart health. The tests are quick and easy and should be performed at least once every two years starting at age 20.

Fasting lipoprotein profile
A lipid profile is used as part of a cardiac risk assessment to help determine a person’s risk of heart disease and to make decisions about treatment. The tests measure total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol and triglycerides. You should have a fasting lipoprotein profile taken every four to six years starting at age 20.

Blood glucose screening
Blood glucose tests measure the amount of sugar in a person’s blood, and if levels are too high, individuals are at a greater risk of developing insulin resistance, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Untreated diabetes can lead to serious health problems like heart attack and stroke, which is why it’s imperative to have your blood glucose levels checked at least every three years starting at age 45.

Body weight screening
Maintaining a healthy body weight is essential to a healthy heart, as research has linked excess belly fat to higher blood pressure and unhealthy blood lipid levels. Your doctor may start measuring your waist circumference or calculating your body mass index (BMI) during routine visits starting at around age 20.

If you have a family history of heart disease or have been diagnosed with a cardiovascular condition, you will likely require additional and more frequent testing. It’s important to meet with your doctor to identify your risk factors and establish an individualized plan. Until then, get out and exercise and start making some healthy modifications to your diet – your heart will thank you in the long run.

The Covenant Center for the Heart goes the extra mile for heart patients every day. Learn more about our extraordinary care here.

Posted Date: 2/6/2017

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