SPECIAL TO THE MERCURYYou know the risk factors associated with heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood glucose.
But how do you know which risk factors you have? Enter heart health screenings. All regular cardiovascular screening tests should begin at age 20, according to American Heart Association.
The frequency of follow-up will depend on you risk levels and the strategy your physician recommends.
Regular screening can help you detect risk factors in their earliest stages, allowing plenty of time for lifestyle changes or medication that can reduce the chance for heart disease. Check the list below to see what screenings you should be taking.
High blood pressure generally has no symptoms and cannot be found without measurement. That’s why it is labeled the silent killer.
Sixty-eight million Americans (one in three) have high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it is important to monitor because of its link to an increased risk for heart disease and stroke.
The American Heart Association recommends that you undergo fasting lipoprotein testing every five years starting at age 20. This blood test measures total cholesterol – both bad and good – and triglycerides.
Men over 45 and women over 50 may need to be tested more frequently, as could people with other cardiovascular risk factors. Things like high blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides can be improved through changes to diet, exercise and medication.
High blood glucose levels put people at a greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, which can increase the chance of heart disease and stroke.
Check with your doctor about undergoing a blood glucose test, especially if you are 45 or older. The American Heart Association urges people to have their level checked at least every three years.