Why Get Tested Early for Heart Health?
When it comes to heart health, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Get your heart tested before potential problems develop.
Monitoring your heart health doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. A few simple tests can often tell you what you need to know and can help you catch potential heart and vascular problems early. Early detection makes prevention and treatment more effective.
Four periodic tests for heart and vascular health
• Blood pressure: Have it checked regularly and set goals for your blood pressure level.
• Cholesterol: Get it tested and establish your goals.
• Weight: Find out where your weight falls within the norms.
• Fitness: Discuss your physical fitness with your doctor. Regular exercise plays a critical role in heart health. With this information, plus your family history and smoking history, your doctor can begin to determine your overall heart health.
Top benefits of early testing
• Prevention: Prevention is the most powerful medicine. Eighty percent of heart attacks can be prevented.
• Early detection: Don’t wait for heart symptoms—for example, chest pain or shortness of breath—to become acute before you talk to your doctor. Patients who take control of their heart health tend to be healthier than those who wait for a serious event and end up in the emergency room.
The role of a primary care physician in early testing
• Testing: Your primary care physician can assess the health implications of your blood pressure, cholesterol, weight and fitness level. If you need more testing, your physician can refer you to a specialist.
• Annual physical exam: During a routine physical, your doctor will look for evidence of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart murmur, arterial blockage, etc.
Tips for working with a health care provider
• Be persistent: Primary care physicians (medical doctors (MDs) or doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs)) are in high demand. If you have trouble getting access to one, work with a nurse practitioner or a physician’s assistant. They can all help you.
• Be selective: Find a provider that you are comfortable with and have confidence in.
• Be prepared: See your provider with a topic or a targeted list of questions about your heart health. Your time with the provider is limited, so make the most of it.
• Be patient: Your chronic illness took a long time to develop. Treating it will take time, too.