Heart Health – These simple tests can save your life

By Nikki Dorrell

Heart Health – These simple tests can save your life
When it comes to your heart health, knowing these numbers could save your life.

Keeping track of your health can be a daunting task, with many of us often left confused about what to focus on and what to monitor. Here is a simple list of some important numbers to be wary of when it comes to heart health.

Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) can cause a whole realm of problems and those afflicted with it generally don’t even know they have it. High blood pressure is when your blood is pumping through your arteries at a greater force than normal (even at rest), putting pressure on your artery walls and over time, causing damage that increases your risk of heart disease.

The test: The doctor will wrap a cuff around your arm which he/she will inflate with a pump to gauge the level of pressure. Painless and quick.

When to test: Age 45 unless you have family history of high blood pressure or other heart related problems.

Cholesterol level

High cholesterol is another symptomless ailment that can have a devastating impact on your health. Too much cholesterol in the blood causes fatty deposits to build up in blood vessels, making it harder for blood to flow and eventually leading to blockages that can cause a heart attack or stroke.

The test: A simple blood test that is most reliable when done after 12 hours of fasting. A cholesterol test involves a suite of numbers as it tests the total amount of cholesterol in your blood, including both good and bad cholesterol as well as the level of triglycerides (fatty substances) in your system.

When to test: Again, unless you have strong family history of high cholesterol and heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes, testing should be done at around age 45.

Waist size

Many are unaware that carrying some extra weight around the belly is considered the most dangerous area for those extra kilos. A larger waistline can put you at risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke, as the type of fat (most likely visceral) behaves differently in the body, likely to release proteins, hormones and other substances that can cause inflammation and can cause a whole lot of problems.

The Test:  You don’t need to visit the GP for this one. Using a tape measure, measure around your waist between the top of the hip bone and the lowest rib, roughly in line with your belly button.

When to test: This one can be conducted at any time.


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