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3 Steps to Kick Off a Year of Good Health

12/29/2015 03:11AM ● Published by Family Features

A fresh beginning with a new year is the perfect time for a health assessment to ensure you are ready to take on a full and active year ahead. Even if you’re feeling great, it’s a smart practice to take time to identify potential problems before they become more serious health concerns.

Early detection of ailments, such as cardiovascular disease, can significantly impact an individual’s ability to cope with the disease, allowing you to make adjustments such as changes in diet and lifestyle, or when necessary, drug therapies and other medical treatments. Delaying detection of this serious disease until its more advanced stages can have dire consequences.

With these three steps, you can get a better picture of your cardiovascular health and identify silent, hidden risk factors (like plaque in your arteries) that you may not even know are there.

  1. Get your blood pressure checked. Blood pressure measures how much force a person’s blood is putting on the artery walls as the heart pumps. High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when your heart has to work extra hard to pump blood throughout the body. High blood pressure often happens when arteries lose their elasticity through hardening caused by cholesterol, plaque or scarring. Many people do not experience symptoms of high blood pressure, so it’s important to have your blood pressure checked periodically. Screening for high blood pressure involves placing a pressure cuff around your upper arm to monitor both diastolic and systolic blood pressure. A normal systolic reading is between 90 and 119, and a normal diastolic reading is 60-79.

  2. Get your cholesterol checked. A simple finger-stick screening measures total cholesterol as well as three different kinds of lipids in your blood (HDL, LDL and triglycerides), which are important in determining your heart health. Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, is known as the “bad” cholesterol and can build up in the walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. Along with other substances, it can form plaque – a thick, hard deposit that can clog those arteries. High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is known as "good” cholesterol because it carries LDL away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it's passed from the body. A high HDL level helps prevent heart disease, while a low HDL level increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Triglycerides are the most common type of fat. Like cholesterol, they circulate in blood but are stored in the body for extra energy. A high triglyceride level combined with a low HDL or high LDL can speed up the process of plaque formation in the arteries.

  3. Learn about other risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Many people in the early stages of cardiovascular disease are asymptomatic, meaning they have no symptoms to indicate their health is at risk. Some common risk factors include age (55 and older), family history, tobacco use and high blood-pressure, other factors, such as high cholesterol, aren’t as easily observed. Preventive health screenings, such as those provided by Life Line Screening, can give you a fuller picture of how risk factors may be stacking up. The screenings are designed by doctors and administered by trained professionals to help detect hidden health issues. Within a couple of weeks, you can receive easy-to-understand test results to share with your doctor so you can work together to prevent serious problems before they start.

To starting the year off right with a preventive health screening, visit lifelinescreening.com.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Sponsored by Life Line Screening

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