4 Health Screenings Your Heart Depends On
You double up on veggies, exercise regularly, and do your best to squeeze a quick yoga routine during lunch, but there’s one (major) muscle nearly 60 percent of healthy women are neglecting: Their heart.
According to research from Orlando Health, most women put off heart health screenings a full decade later than what the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends. Prime time to start screenings for your ticker? Your early 20’s, says the AHA. While regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle can help keep your heart in top condition, it’s still important to schedule these screenings annually—especially if you have a family history of heart disease.
It’s one of the most crucial screenings that often goes overlooked. High blood pressure usually has does not have clear symptoms but left unchecked, can greatly increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Caught early enough by your doctor, high blood pressure is controllable through lifestyle changes and medication. What you may not know is that after age 65 women have a higher risk of high blood pressure than men, and taking birth control may also increase your risk. Make this screening a priority at least twice a year.
Fasting Lipoprotein Profile
This blood test measures your total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good cholesterol), and triglyceride levels. Your body needs cholesterol to make hormones, like vitamin D and the substances you need to help digest food. Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs in order to keep things running smoothly, but since certain fatty foods can contain high levels of cholesterol, eating them in excess can throw your levels for a loop.
Your fasting lipoprotein profile is usually taken every four to six years, starting in your early 20’s. If you have a family history of heart disease, or your levels seem high, your doctor may recommend testing more frequently.
Maintaining a healthy body weight is more than skin deep. Your heart and vital organs all function better when your body mass index (BMI) is between 18.5 to 24.9. Although your BMI isn’t always an indicator of a healthy weight, it helps doctors analyze if you might be at risk for obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, or stroke.
High blood glucose puts you at a greater risk for developing insulin resistance, prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes, which all increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. The AHA recommends screening blood glucose levels every three years once you turn 45, but if you’re overweight or have an additional risk factor (like family history of heart disease) you may need to start screenings sooner and more frequently.
Preventive screenings make a huge difference in living an active, healthy lifestyle, so don’t put them off another day. Schedule a health screening with your doctor at least once a year. And, if you’re an Independence Blue Cross members, these lifesaving screenings are complementary parts of most health plans.This is a paid partnership between Independence Blue Cross and Philadelphia Magazine's City/Studio