Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States — it claims nearly one million lives every year. Knowing and managing the risk factors for heart disease, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and high blood glucose, can help reduce your risk of heart disease.
The only way to know your risk factors is through screening tests performed at routine doctor visits. Regular cardiovascular screenings can detect risk factors in their earliest stages, and early detection and treatment lower your risk of dying from heart disease.
At your next checkup, ask your doctor about the following basic heart health tests:
- Weight and BMI
- Waist circumference
- Blood pressure
- Fasting blood glucose
While few people will have ideal results from all of these tests, knowing your results can serve as a wake-up call regarding your health. Your doctor will be able to recommend lifestyle changes (and medication, if needed) to reduce your risk.
When do I need a heart screening?
Most routine cardiovascular screening tests should begin at age 20. The frequency of follow-up screenings depends on your risk level, including family history. If you have been diagnosed with a heart condition, you will likely require additional and more frequent testing.
Here are the recommended guidelines for basic heart health screening tests:
Blood pressure: If your blood pressure is below 120/80, have it checked at least every two years beginning at age 20. If it is higher, your doctor may want to check it more often. Lifestyle changes and medication can help keep your blood pressure within a healthy range.
Cholesterol and triglycerides: You should have a fasting lipoprotein profile to test for high cholesterol and triglycerides every four to six years, starting at age 20. If your physician determines that you are at an increased risk for heart disease or stroke, you may need to be tested more frequently.
Body weight: Beginning at age 20, your doctor should calculate your body mass index (BMI) and take your waist measurements to determine your body composition. Obesity increases risk for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes, among other health problems.
Blood glucose: Once you turn 45, you should have your blood glucose level checked at least every three years. High blood glucose increases your risk for developing insulin resistance, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. If you are overweight and have at least one additional cardiovascular risk factor, your doctor may recommend this test at an earlier age and more frequently.
It is important to discuss all of your lifestyle factors — including smoking and alcohol use, physical activity, diet and stress level — with your primary healthcare provider at every regular checkup. These factors may increase your risk of developing heart disease.
Posted: 7/18/2016 by
Filed under: Heart and Vascular