February is American Heart Month

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February is ‘American Heart Month’ — the perfect time to consider your heart health and the steps you can take to minimize heart disease risk.

One of the easiest and most important things you can do if you have high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure (two key heart disease risk factors) is to ASK FOR YOUR ‘NUMBERS.’

Information is power! If you have your blood pressure numbers AND your full lipid (cholesterol) panel results, you can easily calculate your own ’10-year risk of heart disease!’

In the past 6 months, two of my close friends were diagnosed with high cholesterol and their doctors started discussing statins. Only one had their full cholesterol panel (and blood pressure) results so they could calculate their heart disease risk.

The result: one did not get her full numbers and ended up starting on a statin. The other ran her results through the online ‘risk calculator’ and discovered her 10-year risk of heart disease level is ‘borderline’ for a statin. So she discussed it with her doctor and they decided the best way forward is to step up lifestyle changes (more exercise and a vegetable-forward, low salt diet) and re-check cholesterol numbers in 6 months. Oh, and visit a cardiologist.

So if you’re newly diagnosed with high cholesterol or have high (or borderline or rising) blood pressure, you can take some steps.

  • It may be that a statin is the right treatment.
  • Or it may be that your doctor might reconsider if you have a discussion and try lifestyle changes first. But you’ll never know if you don’t run your numbers through the online calculator—see below—and/or ask your doctor.

To learn more, read my post: Newly Diagnosed with High Cholesterol?

This post has an explanation of and link to the VERY EASY TO USE online 10-year-heart-disease-risk calculator and other key information and resources.  (Note: anyone who has NOT had a cardiac event and is between ages 20-79 can use the calculator.)

#HeartMonth

www.cdc.org/heartmonth

 

 

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