For people with certain risk factors, a heart screening can be a wise part of your healthcare plan. Your heart is your body’s most critical muscle; take care of it! Here are some factors to consider if you’re thinking about a heart screening.
Family history of heart disease
Even fit, otherwise healthy people need to be vigilant about their heart health if they have a family history of heart disease. The best way to protect your heart’s health is to:
- Stay active
- Keep your blood sugar down
- Keep your cholesterol low
- Manage your blood pressure
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Quit smoking (or never start)
Remember, people who are not overweight are not immune to heart disease. Your family history is a strong factor in your risk for future problems. According to the American Heart Association, “Even if your family has a clean bill of health, you should be aware of other genetic factors that can increase your family’s risk. For example, statistics show that African-Americans face higher risks for high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. Statistics also indicate that about 1 in 3 Hispanics will suffer from high blood pressure, and nearly half will battle high blood cholesterol.” Talk to your physician to see if a Heart Scan is right for you.
High blood pressure
If your blood pressure is high, you may be at a higher risk for heart disease. Check your blood pressure often to make sure it stays within a healthy range. Blood pressure screenings are an incredibly important part of protecting the health of your heart.
While heavier people can most certainly be fit, active, and healthy, a high BMI (body mass index) can be a risk factor for heart disease and other health problems. Staying active, eating well, and maintaining a healthy weight are some of the best ways to prevent heart disease.
People who smoke have a higher risk of health problems, including heart disease. If you smoke, the absolute best thing you can do for your health is to quit as soon as possible!
A healthy diet full of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains supports a healthy body and a healthy heart. Try to reduce your intake of refined sugars, red meat, “bad fats,” and processed foods high in sodium. A lifetime of a processed, high-fat diet can head to a higher risk of heart disease.
When do I need to think about a heart screening?
If you haven’t already been diagnosed with heart disease, you should consider having a Heart Scan screening if you are a:
- Man between the ages of 45 and 80
- Woman between the ages of 55 and 80
Or you have one or more of these cardiovascular risk factors:
- High blood pressure
- High LDL (“bad”) or low HDL (“good”) cholesterol
- Tobacco use (any type)
- History of heart disease in your immediate family
Talk to your physician to see if Heart Scan is right for you.