As we celebrate American Heart Month all February, we’re reflecting on the most critical steps our patients can take to protect their heart health. From daily lifestyle habits to small changes, improving your heart health doesn’t have to be daunting—but it does have to be a promise you make to yourself and a priority you make in your life. One of the most impactful commitments you can make to improve your heart health is to obtain an annual wellness exam with your primary care provider (PCP). If you don’t already have a PCP, find a BestMed location near you today.
Early detection of the signs and symptoms of heart disease is crucial in treating the lifestyle and health factors that can escalate into a catastrophic event if left unchecked. Your doctor will seek to identify such concerning risk factors as high blood pressure, high total cholesterol, and high blood glucose during your health screening. Regular check-ups with your PCP enable vital conversations about lifestyle habits, family histories, and heart-healthy decisions. Your doctor is the greatest ally in your quest for a healthy heart and a long life. By meeting with your PCP regularly, you will benefit from their continuous care and insights and can address any health risks before they become problematic.
Depending on your age, risk factors, and health history, your doctor will determine the frequency they recommend you to obtain regular cholesterol screenings. The results of a cholesterol test could be critical in recognizing a potentially dangerous heart condition. Even if you believe you eat healthily and lead an active lifestyle, genetic factors may put you at risk. For such individuals, a cholesterol screening is crucial in the pursuit of early detection.
The American Heart Association recommends adults receive a cholesterol screening every four to six years starting at age 20; however, your PCP will determine a schedule that best addresses your needs and risk factors.
If you are concerned about your heart health, your doctor may recommend that you participate in a CT scan of your heart, known as a Coronary Artery Calcium Scan (CACS). This test can help detect developing heart issues and has been known to help save lives in asymptomatic patients—those who have developed risk factors but are not yet showing symptoms.
If your regular health screening identifies that you are at risk of developing heart disease or a more emergent issue, your doctor will devise a treatment plan to lessen your risk factors and improve your health. Depending on your symptoms and risks, your treatment plan may include medications, lifestyle changes, or a referral to a cardiologist—a heart specialist. What’s crucial, however, is that you take the first step by meeting your PCP. Without their guidance and expertise, you will be less equipped to battle your risk factors and fight for the health of your heart.