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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.