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It's Never Too Early To Be Heart Smart

It's never too early to be heart smart

Sandra Nweke   Contributed Photo for The Victoria Advocate

Here's some information that may make your heart skip a beat: When an American adult walks into a doctor's office for a medical check-up, the most likely primary diagnosis will be cardiovascular disease.

As the country's number one killer, there are a good 27.6 million people out there with a heart condition. While some of us may think we're too young to worry about it, the truth is that heart disease doesn't discriminate; monitoring your health at any age will help you protect yourself.

In your 20s

Once you hit your 20s, you should start getting regular blood pressure checks. Those with a family history of heart disease, should get their blood pressure checked more often, and a lipid profile should be done. If you are a smoker, talk with your health care provider about ways to quit because this can accelerate heart disease.

In your 30s

At age 30, continue to see your physician annually to have routine blood pressure checks. Maintain a healthy weight via exercise and diet and continue to check cholesterol levels.

Normal levels to look for are below:

  • Below 200 for total cholesterol
  • Below 100 for LDL
  • 40 (males) or 50 (females) for HDL
  • Below 150 for triglycerides

In your 40s

When you're in your 40s, if you have one risk factor, such as high blood pressure and you are overweight, it is recommended that you be tested for diabetes. Screening is done with a fasting plasma glucose test (FPG) or hemoglobin A1C test. Normal blood sugar is between 70 and 100 mg/dl. Random blood sugar less than 200 is also normal.

In your 50s

Continue your basic screenings with a lipid panel annually and blood pressure checks. Maintain a healthy weight and be physically active. Your physician will assess your cardiovascular risk for heart attacks and strokes. Your risk percentage determines what additional testing will be done at this time. Otherwise, focus on making healthy choices in your life.

In your 60s, older

The above recommendations continue to apply in this age range. Continue to get these mentioned tests every year. Your doctor might also recommend more specialized tests suitable for your particular case. Most importantly, you are never too old to stay active, eat right and maintain a healthy weight.

Start today

No matter what your age, preventing cardiovascular disease should always be a priority so you can look forward to a long and healthy life.

If you are on medications for blood pressure, diabetes or elevated cholesterol, take them as prescribed, not taking medications as directed is almost like not taking them at all. Keep your appointments and see your physician regularly so that they can keep track of any changes in your health.

Understand your health and get to know your risks by making an appointment with your doctor and having your numbers checked. Simple, quick and painless - they're the best way to predict and prevent future disease. Furthermore, these tests are inexpensive and most likely covered by your insurance.

Dr. Sandra Nweke is a family medicine physician in her second year of residency in the DeTar Family Medicine Program (DFMP). DFMP is an affiliation with Texas A&M Health Science Center's School of Medicine. Nweke is accepting new patients at DeTar Family Medicine Center; appointments can be made at mydetardoctor.com.

Story Credit: https://www.victoriaadvocate.com/news/2017/aug/15/its-never-too-early-to-be-heart-smart/