Nov 12, 2013 10:51 AM by Tracy Wirtz

Get Your Heart Checked Early!

We all know about the importance of health screenings, like women over the age of 40 getting mammograms and men between the age of 40 and 75 having PSA tests. But what about having your cholesterol checked and monitoring your blood pressure? Cardiologist Dr. Vernon Valentino says, according to the American Heart Association, people at the age of 20 should begin having their blood pressure checked and have a lipid profile done. It should be followed up about every two years. Dr. Valentino says heart disease is no longer an "old person's disease."

It's important to know where you numbers are at a young age so that you can know how your arteries and your heart are progressing over time. Also, you can catch potential problems early that may be treatable with diet and exercise, or even with medication. Problems that are caught in more advanced stages may require surgical intervention. More serious conditions often times lead to cardiac events, such as a heart attack which lead to permanent damage.

Lifestyle habits play a significant role in heart health, and those factors are 100% controllable by you. Genetics also plays a large part in determining your risk factor for heart disease. Therefore, it is important for parents to communicate with their children if they or a first degree relative has a condition like high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes.

Dr. Valentino says, while a person's genetic makeup is something they cannot control, knowing that factor exists and counteracting it with appropriate lifestyle changes can help decrease your chances of having a cardiac episode.

Communication is key, not only with your doctor but also with your family members. And not waiting until you are "of a certain age" can help set you on a path to heart health as well.

The American Heart Association has lots of great information on how to keep your heart healthy. Also, make plans to join other Acadiana residents for the Heart Walk on November 23rd.



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