Celebrate National Self-Check Month with a Healthy Heart Screening

Neeru Singh, MD
February 1, 2021
5 min

February is National Self-Check Month. Learn how basic self-checks and preventative care can help improve your long-term heart health.

Not only is February American Heart Month, but it's also National Self-Check Month, a time to shine a light on the importance of early detection, and how it can make a HUGE difference for our overall health. In honor of both of these months, we're sharing important screenings and tips on how to keep your heart healthy throughout the years. 

Key Screening Tests for Good Cardiovascular Health

Cardiovascular health is about so much more than just your heart. There are many diseases and conditions that fall under this umbrella that relate to either the heart or the blood vessels of the circulatory system which carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart throughout the rest of the body.

Since there are so many factors that can affect the cardiovascular system, healthy adults need a variety of regular screenings to ensure that their heart and blood vessels are in good working order. These screenings will also show your doctor whether there are any warning signs for cardiovascular diseases that need to be addressed before they get worse.

Here are some of the screenings you should be getting regularly.  

Blood Pressure

Getting regular blood pressure screenings is vital because high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, has no symptoms. Starting at age 20, all healthy adults should be getting their blood pressure checked at least once every two years. If your blood pressure is high, your doctor may ask you to come in for additional screenings more often.  

Cholesterol

Cholesterol is an organic molecule your body uses to build cells and other essential substances that keep your body functional. Normal levels of cholesterol in the blood are acceptable, but as soon as your levels start to rise, they can form hard deposits on your arteries, eventually leading to a heart attack or stroke.

Starting from the age of 20, your doctor will want to perform a fasting lipoprotein profile every 4-6 years, which measures all the cholesterol present in your body.

Blood Glucose 

By checking your blood glucose (also called your ‘blood sugar’) levels, your doctor can get a good sense of whether you’re at risk for pre-diabetes or diabetes. If left untreated, diabetes can contribute to an elevated risk for cardiovascular diseases like heart disease and stroke.

Regular blood glucose tests should be conducted starting between the ages of 40 and 45. If you’re overweight or have additional risk factors, your doctor may want to do these screenings more often and earlier!

BMI

BMI stands for body mass index, a measurement that can help determine whether an individual is at increased risk for a variety of diseases like osteoarthritis, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and sleep apnea. This screening could be done once a year.

Keep Your Heart Healthy with These Easy Tips 

While these frequent, doctor-led screenings help us stay healthy, the actions we take on a daily basis are the most important. A healthy diet, regular physical activity, and good habits are essential to keeping your heart healthy.

Don’t know where to start? Check out these tips for maintaining a healthy heart.

  1. If you smoke, quit as soon as possible. Your doctor may be able to help guide you toward some simple and stress-free ways to overcome your nicotine addiction.
  2. You should strive to get at least 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise every week. To make it easier, find an activity you love or split it into several shorter sessions.
  3.  Make sure your diet contains plenty of nutrient-rich whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. Try to minimize your consumption of any foods with added sugar. 
  4. Drink as much water as possible, while reducing your consumption of sugary sodas, juices, and alcoholic beverages.

Many people are reluctant to conduct self-checks or seek out preventative care for a variety of reasons. They’re scared of bad news, they're too busy, or they're just not comfortable touching themselves in that way. However, getting over these fears is crucial since these exams and screenings are vital when it comes to preventing or catching illnesses and diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity in time for treatment to be effective. 

Want to talk to someone about your heart health? Book an appointment either in-person or virtually with one of Carbon Health's primary care providers and they will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have and offer support and guidance every step of the way.

Liked what you read? Learn more by downloading the Carbon Health app or visiting carbonhealth.com.


Neeru Singh, MD

Neeru Singh, MD, is a Medical Director at Carbon Health. As a primary care physician, she enjoys educating and guiding patients on important health decisions.

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