Heart health: Why is it important to have routine heart check-ups?
December 15, 2020
Many heart conditions and their risk factors can go undetected without regular heart check-ups and health screenings. Preventative healthcare can help you and your doctors stay on top of your health and find potential health issues before they develop into something more serious. With regular heart check-ups, you can expect to:
- Detect conditions or diseases early
- Reduce your chances of becoming ill
- Get the right treatment quickly
- Improve overall health
- Create a picture of your health over time
- Reduce overall healthcare costs
- Receive the most current medical information and up-to-date technologies and practices
Routine heart check-ups and screenings give you the best chance of receiving the right treatment quickly and diagnosing underlying medical conditions promptly. By scheduling these health services regularly, you can be assured you are taking the correct steps to a longer, healthier life.
Here are the key screening tests recommended for optimal cardiovascular health:
Blood pressure is one of the most important screenings because high blood pressure usually has no symptoms so it can’t be detected without being measured. High blood pressure greatly increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. If your blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg, be sure to get it checked at least once every two years, starting at age 20. If your blood pressure is higher, your doctor may want to check it more often. High blood pressure can be controlled through lifestyle changes or medication. After age 65, women have a higher risk of high blood pressure than men.
Fasting Lipoprotein Profile (cholesterol and triglycerides)
You should have a fasting lipoprotein profile taken every four to six years, starting at age 20. This is a blood test that measures total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol and triglycerides. You may need to be tested more frequently if your healthcare provider determines that you’re at an increased risk for heart disease or stroke.
Older women tend to have higher triglyceride levels than men. Like high blood pressure, often cholesterol and triglycerides can be controlled through lifestyle changes or medication.
Starting around 20 years old, your healthcare provider may ask for your waist circumference or use your body weight to calculate your body mass index (BMI) during your routine visit. These measurements may tell you and your physician whether you’re at a healthy body weight and composition. About two of every three adults are now overweight or obese. Being obese puts you at higher risk for health problems such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and more.
Starting at age 45, you should have your blood glucose level checked at least every three years. High blood glucose levels put you at greater risk of developing insulin resistance, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Untreated diabetes can lead to many serious medical problems including heart disease and stroke. If you’re overweight AND you have at least one additional cardiovascular risk factor, your doctor may recommend a blood glucose test even if you’re not yet 45, or more frequently than every 3 years.
Prevention is better than cure. That is why health checkups and doctor consultations are important. Taking care of your heart should be a priority and getting regular checkups is the best way to ensure you’re keeping your heart healthy.