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Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer of women and men? That means that more people are killed from this disease than all forms of cancer combined.

With a staggering figure like that, it’s no wonder that the American Heart Association has dubbed February as American Heart Month. It is their goal to spread awareness and the hope that with lifestyle changes and early screening, you and your loved ones don’t have to be part of this statistic.


Metabolic Disorders and Heart Health

While there can be several factors that put one at risk for heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease (CVD), the top three contributors include:

1. Diabetes

For individuals with diabetes, even with their glucose under control, their health is greatly impacted. In fact, those with diabetes are two to four times more likely to die from CVD than those without it.

The main reason for this is because they typically may have additional contributing factors including: high cholesterol and triglycerides, little to no physical activity, obesity, high blood pressure, smoking and/or glucose levels that are poorly controlled.

2. Obesity

Another major risk factor for CVD is obesity. As your weight rises, that typically means your cholesterol and triglyceride levels are rising and your good cholesterol, or HDL, is falling.

With obesity, the body must also work harder for adequate circulation and to supply oxygen throughout, resulting in high blood pressure. Obese individuals are also at greater risk for diabetes.

3. Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is typically a combination of conditions that can not only increase the risk of CVD, but stroke and diabetes as well. These conditions consist of high blood sugar, increased body fat around the waistline, high cholesterol or triglyceride levels, and high blood pressure.

While just one of these does not constitute metabolic syndrome, two or more puts you at great risk for several severe health conditions. Unfortunately, about one-third of US adults are dealing with metabolic syndrome.


Screening for Heart Disease

As doctors and researchers learn more about heart health, screening for CVD and the risk factors leading to it is becoming more thorough and advanced. Testing you may experience when screening for cardiovascular disease include:

  • Body Weight – Since obesity puts you at higher risk, the doctor may check your weight, measure your waist circumference and calculate your BMI. While much emphasis has been placed on BMI, waist circumference or body composition analysis are better indicators of the level of visceral fat. This fat is associated with the highest risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Blood Glucose – High glucose levels can put you at risk for type 2 diabetes. This coupled with another listed condition can greatly increase the chances of CVD.
  • Blood Pressure – When elevated, this tends to have no symptoms, so it’s important that it gets checked regularly. This can lead to both CVD and stroke.
  • Cholesterol Profile (Fasting) – This blood test looks at both good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol and, like blood pressure, it can be controlled through lifestyle and medication.
  • Lifestyle – Lastly, your doctor will want to learn more about your diet and exercise habits and if you engage in activities like smoking.


An Ounce of Prevention

While the facts may be grim, the good news is that with adequate screening and lifestyle changes, you don’t have to be another statistic. The saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound in cure” applies, even to heart health. So take the proper steps today to become educated and  seek testing to change your future for the better!



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