How healthy is your heart? – The Fort Morgan Times

Your heart is one of the most active parts of your body. It is also one of the most endangered.

In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States – about one in four deaths.

Also, in the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds. And about one in five of these heart attacks are silent, which means you may not be aware of the damage to your heart that is happening or has already happened.

That’s why it’s so important to stay on top of our heart health.

Do you know how healthy your heart is? This American Heart Month, refresh on a few key indicators that can provide insight into your heart’s current state of health and indicate specific steps you may need to take to take care of it.

Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a substance that circulates in your blood and comes in two different types: LDL (also known as the “bad” type) and HDL (known as the “good” type).

HDL cholesterol carries LDL cholesterol from your arteries to the liver, where it is flushed out of your body. Too much LDL or not enough HDL increases your risk of buildup and blockages in your arteries, which can lead to heart attack or stroke.

Knowing your cholesterol level is one of the main ways to assess your heart health and one of the most manageable factors in reducing your risk of disease. Targets for healthy cholesterol levels can vary by age and gender, but a general rule of thumb for adults is to aim for 125-200 mg/dL.

Arterial pressure

Blood pressure is exactly what it says – it measures the pressure or force of the blood in your arteries.

Like cholesterol, there are two different numbers – your systolic pressure (the higher of the two numbers) measures your blood pressure when your heart is beating and your diastolic pressure (the lower of the two numbers) measures your blood pressure when your heart is resting between Beats.

A normal blood pressure reading is below 120 systolic and below 80 diastolic. Readings above these levels would be considered elevated or high, including hypertension when readings are 130/80 or higher.

High blood pressure can be a big factor and a sign of serious heart problems.

Unfortunately, it’s an all too common condition, affecting nearly half of American adults according to the American Heart Association, and showing no symptoms most of the time. Because there are often no clear symptoms, it is important to have your blood pressure checked.

Fortunately, high blood pressure can be lowered and managed with the proper care.

Waist size

Waist circumference can also be a warning sign of heart health and a predictor of heart problems.

A National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute study showed that men with a waist circumference greater than 40 inches and women with a waist circumference greater than 35 inches are at higher risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

The good news is that healthy eating and physical activity can help you reduce and maintain a healthy waistline and stay on the path to good heart health.

family history

Risk factors such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure may also run in your family. Therefore, knowing your family’s heart health history can help you stay alert to your own health risks.

And while these aren’t the only markers on the map of good heart health, they are key factors in determining your heart health and your risk of heart problems now or in the future.

Your primary care provider can check these numbers for you — including during your annual checkup — and work with you on a plan to make the changes needed to get you back on track, whether they’re simple changes in lifestyle or medication if needed.

Learn more

How healthy is your heart? Know your numbers so you know how to stay on track for heart health.

Need help knowing your heart? You can count on us. From primary care to cardiac services, we’re here to provide high-quality, compassionate care when you and your family need it. Call 970.867.3391 or visit the “Find a Doctor” tab on ColoradoPlainsMedicalCenter.com to schedule an appointment.

For more information on heart health, visit heart.org. You can also take our free heart health assessment at ColoradoPlainsMedicalCenter.com/cardiopulmonary.

Colorado Plains Medical Center is proud to partner with the Fort Morgan Times to bring relevant health information and awareness to the communities we serve. Please look for our upcoming articles in the Fort Morgan Times every two weeks.

Megan Klacman, BSN-RN, is the coordinator of the Chest Pain and Stress Laboratory at Colorado Plains Medical Center in Fort Morgan.

Jessica C. Bell