February is Heart Healthy Month. The key to preventing cardiovascular or coronary artery disease is managing your risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood glucose.
Smith's Pharmacist Jayme Garcia joined us to talk about why regular screening of your heart health is so important.
She says research shows clear links between high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels, obesity and the risk for developing cardiovascular disease, so it's smart to monitor your levels closely. For many people, screening results can provide motivation for the hard work of changing less than desirable health habits.
Garcia says most healthy screenings should begin at age 20. The repeat screening depends on the results as well as on your level of risk such as heart failure or atrial fibrillation, or if you have a family history of heart attacks, heart disease or stroke.
Garcia says she recommends to regularly get your blood pressure checked because high blood pressure has no symptoms. If your blood pressure is normal - below 120/80 mm Hg, be sure to get it checked at least once every two years. High blood pressure can be controlled through lifestyle changes or medication.
A cholesterol screening involves a blood test that measures total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol and triglycerides. Then, if your cholesterol is determined to be within a normal range, you should have the test repeated every four to six years.
High blood glucose levels put you at greater risk of developing insulin resistance, pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is an independent risk factor for heart disease as well. You should have your blood glucose checked at age 45, or earlier if you have other risk factors including being overweight. Repeat blood glucose screenings are recommended every 3 years if within the normal range.
Nearly every Smith`s pharmacy will be offering FREE heart health screenings by appointment. The screening includes a cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose test, as well as personalized recommendations to improve your heart health. Visit smithsfoodanddrug.com/hearthealth to learn more and to schedule your free screening appointment.