Important Heart Health Measurements – What to Talk to your Doctor About
Your heart is constantly working for your body. It is a key factor in your overall health and life. Sometimes heart diseases may not show physical warning signs until smaller issues create a bigger issue leading to things like a heart attack or stroke.. But if you pay close attention to your heart health measurements, you might be able to catch when something isn’t right earlier.
These are 4 Important measurements to talk to your doctor about and check regularly to stay ahead of your heart health:
- Blood Pressure
- Blood Sugar
- Body Mass Index
What does each measurement tell you? How often should you check these measurements? How do I keep these in a healthy range?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that runs through the blood. Two important types are LDL, often called “bad” cholesterol, and HDL, the “good” cholesterol. Too much bad cholesterol can build up and increase the chance that blood flow is blocked in the arteries, causing a heart attack or stroke.
Unfortunately there are typically no symptoms of high cholesterol. You must have a blood test done to tell if your cholesterol is too high. If you have a family history of high cholesterol or you have other risk factors at play, you may need to get yours tested more often. If you are otherwise healthy with no family history, it’s typically recommended to check your cholesterol levels every 4-6 years.
Lowering your Cholesterol
A heart-healthy diet is one of the best ways to lower cholesterol. Focus on foods low in saturated and trans fats, like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, and healthier vegetable oils such as canola, corn, and olive. A type of medication called “statin” can also help lower bad cholesterol.
Blood pressure is a measure of the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. With high blood pressure, also called “hypertension,” that measure is higher than normal, and it can lead to heart failure, heart attack, or stroke.
Same as cholesterol, high blood pressure can often present with no symptoms. Your doctor will likely check your blood pressure at every appointment. It is usually part of the standard process for the medical assistant checking you in and getting you prepared to see the doctor. You should get this checked at least once a year at your annual physical check up.
Blood sugar comes from food and is the body’s main source of energy. When blood sugar is too high, especially for long periods of time, it can damage the blood vessels and nerves, and lead to issues like heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. High blood sugar is most often linked with diabetes.
Symptoms of High Blood Sugar
- Frequent Urination
- Increased Thirst
- Blurry Vision
- Feeling Weak or Fatigued, Excessively Tired, Confused
- Dry Mouth
- Nausea and Vomiting
Depending on your risk factors, it’s recommended to have your blood sugar levels checked every 1-3 years. Those diagnosed with diabetes will likely need to check their blood sugar levels several times throughout the day.
BMI – Body Mass Index
BMI is a number that estimates your level of obesity. It is calculated by dividing a person’s weight by the square of their height. BMI numbers are used to screen for weight categories that might make health problems more likely. It is not an exact science — many factors affect BMI, such as gender, race, age, and even muscle makeup, and not all of these factors are necessarily linked to a higher risk of health problems. However, there’s a lot of research showing that people with BMIs in the obese or morbidly obese ranges face a much higher risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart failure, as well as other issues like trouble sleeping, breathing problems, or back and joint pain.
High BMI doesn’t have symptoms. Instead, high BMI is the most common sign of being overweight or obese. Obesity is considered a serious medical condition.
If you know your weight and height, you can check your BMI anytime with a BMI calculator. Doctors typically check BMI once a year and consider it, along with many other health factors, to decide if it’s an issue.
It’s important to keep your heart health in check. Schedule yearly physicals/check ups and make sure you are being heart conscious in your diet and daily activities. Contact Sean the Insurance Guy if you need help finding the best healthcare coverage for you and begin staying on top of your health affordably.