Aynsley Anderson Sosinski
MA, RN, is Community Education Coordinator, Mayo Clinic Certified Wellness Coach.
Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 cause of death in America, accounting for about one in three deaths every year. Keeping your heart in tip-top shape involves several strategies, including eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and keeping your heart numbers within healthy ranges.
Knowing your numbers and assessing your heart disease risk are important steps to take in preventing heart problems or getting treatment as early as possible. It is important to see your healthcare provider regularly and discuss how often you should have these tests, as well as what your goal numbers should be. Always follow your provider’s recommendations regarding how to get and keep your numbers within a healthy range.
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a major risk factor for stroke, heart and kidney disease. It usually has no symptoms. A normal blood pressure is below 120 for the top number and below 80 for the low number. Elevated numbers may indicate pre-hypertension or hypertension. Talk with your healthcare provider as to how often you should have your blood pressure checked. At lmh.org/wellness, you can learn more about hypertension and other issues related to heart disease.
Blood sugar (glucose)
Having an elevated fasting blood sugar may indicate pre-diabetes or diabetes. Diabetes is also a risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease. The American Diabetes Association recommends that a fasting blood sugar should be less than 100 mg/dl. A fasting blood sugar of 100 to 125 mg/dl may indicate pre-diabetes, and a fasting blood sugar of 126 mg/dl or above may indicate diabetes. The LMH Diabetes Education Center has certified diabetes educators to help educate those with diabetes on successful management of their disease. A physician referral is required.
Over time, plaque can form and cause blockages in arteries and veins when there is elevated “bad” cholesterol (low density lipoprotein or LDL) or triglycerides in the blood. This can lead to either a heart attack or stroke (brain attack). High cholesterol usually has no symptoms; a blood test is the only way to know your levels. The American Heart Association recommends that healthy adults with no heart disease risk factors have their cholesterol levels checked at least every four to six years. Talk with your healthcare provider as to how often you should have a fasting lipid (cholesterol) profile. Frequency of testing usually depends on age, family history and personal risk factors.
Cardiovascular Specialists of Lawrence offers a “Take Heart” tool to help assess and manage heart health. They offer two heart risk assessment options to identify individual risk factors for heart disease. Both assessment options include lab work, body measurements, educational materials, nutrition and exercise recommendations, as well as a private consultation with a health provider from Cardiovascular Specialists. There is a fee for the heart risk assessment and no referral is required.
To schedule a heart risk assessment, call 785-505-3636, go online to lmh.org/takeheart or talk to your primary care provider. After your assessment, results are reported to your primary care provider.
You can also learn some of your numbers by attending the LMH Healthy Hearts Fair on Feb. 20. Blood work is 7:30 to 10 a.m., while screenings and exhibits are 8 to 10:30 a.m. This annual event is focused on cardiovascular disease and its prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Low-cost full lipid (cholesterol) profile screening is available for $20 if registered by Feb. 12; $25 after that date or at the door. To enroll in advance for the cholesterol blood work and the discounted price, watch for enrollment forms in the Journal-World or call the LMH Lab at 785-505-6179 to request a registration form from a “health fair specialist.”
There also will be free health screenings and information about heart disease from LMH departments, affiliated physician practices, plus LMH community partners. The only fee is for the lipid profile; no fee or registration necessary to attend the other screenings and exhibits.
— Aynsley Anderson Sosinski, MA, RN, is Community Education Coordinator at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, She is a Mayo Clinic Certified Wellness Coach. She can be reached at email@example.com.