Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. So how heart healthy are you?
I headed to Vidant Cardiology in Greenville to learn my risk factors.
My dad had bypass surgery in his 60's, my mom has high blood pressure, and they both have high cholesterol. But admittedly, at age 47, I have never had my cholesterol checked. So I decided to do something about it, instead of waiting until something happens.
After getting weighed and seeing how tall I am, it was off to check my blood pressure.
Mine is 120 over 70. That's exactly where it should to be. Anything 140 over 90 and above is considered high blood pressure and can lead to heart and other health problems.
After answering some lifestyle and family history questions, it's time for an EKG, or electrocardiogram, to measure my heart activity.
As I await those results, and others on blood work to check cholesterol and glucose levels, cardiologist Dr. Rony Shammas begins an exam.
He first listens to my throat for any sounds that may indicate blockages. Everything here checks out just fine. Time now to look at the EKG.
Dr. Shammas says, "Your heart rate is 53 and typically we see that for a healthy individual involved in physical activity. It does not show any issues related to arrhythmia, irregular heart beat or enlargement of the heart."
So far, so good. Now for the results of the blood work.
An overall cholesterol level around 200 has generally been viewed as desirable, but there are many variables. Mine is at 233. But it's not bad news, because my HDL, or good cholesterol, is actually up, which is a good thing. Anything over 40 is good. Mine is at 62. That helps counteract the bad cholesterol.
The blood tests also checked fasting glucose levels to screen for diabetes. You want this number to be below 126. Mine is at 91.
Dr. Shammas then inputs all of the information he's gathered into a heart risk calculator to determine my risk of having a heart-related issue over the next ten years.
Dr. Shammas says, "And your risk is pretty low. It's 2.2. Actually, you are at the level of an ideal kind of risk here."
So how important is it to have these kinds of tests done? Dr. Shammas says, "Simple things like this can reduce your risk of a stroke or heart attack by 30 to 35%."
And had my tests shown a problem, I could have started treatment to turn things around.
With the good report I got...now I just need to continue heart healthy habits of no smoking, a good diet, regular exercise, and stress management.
Dr. Shammas says, "You have a fairly healthy looking profile at this point. I would suggest you repeat in four to five years."
If you know your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and whether you are diabetic, you can input that and other information into the American Heart Association Risk Calculator on this story. If you don't have that information, now is a good time to get it and learn your heart risks during national Heart Health month.