What You Need To Know About Heart Health Screening
One of the leading cause of deaths in the United States is heart disease. You can reduce the risk of heart disease and other related disorders by managing health behaviors and risk factors such as exercise, diet, body weight, alcohol consumption and smoking, and other biomarkers such as blood pressure, cholesterol level, lead levels, and blood glucose. These risk factors are assessed through heart health monitoring procedures and routine screening.
By monitoring your heart health, you and your doctor can make sound decisions regarding interventions that may be necessary or if you’re capable of engaging in specific activities and trips.
New guidelines and an increased awareness of heart health will help identify more people at risk which can lead to a more significant impact on reducing the number of patients who end up developing cardiovascular diseases.
Knowing Your Cardiac Risk Profile
& Taking Steps to Improve it Can Save Your Life
Below are some of the types of screenings and tests you should consider to monitor your heart health
Checking for hypertension or hypotension is imperative as not only is it one of the most critical measures of heart health, but it also helps test blood flow to your brain. Not to mention that abnormalities in blood pressure have few or no symptoms at all unless the situation is already extreme.
For most people, your target blood pressure should be 120/80 mmHg or lower, but others may consistently show slightly higher or slightly lower results depending on their body type and genetics. Fortunately, monitoring blood pressure is simple and inexpensive and can be even done at home.
Check out our Wellness Tip on “How to Accurately Monitor Your Blood Pressure” for complete instructions and tips on how to do this at home including monitor recommendations.
All the components of cholesterol, including HDL, LDL, VLDL, and triglycerides are measured when checking cholesterol. Your body needs cholesterol for many essential functions, such as cell membrane permeability, production of steroid hormones and vitamin D. It’s the low-density (LDL) and very low-density (VLDL) cholesterols that may become problematic and should be monitored relative to your good cholesterol. This simple blood test helps tell your doctor how efficient your body is when it comes to metabolizing cholesterol as well as let them know whether you should undergo dietary interventions.
Our Recommended Healthy Ranges for Cholesterol
HDL Cholesterol: 52-72 mg/dL
VLDL Cholesterol: 5.10-20.10 mg/dL
LDL Cholesterol: 60-110 mg/dL
Triglyceride: 80-115 mg/dL
B-type Natriuretic Protein test (BNP)
This test is used to measure the BNP hormone produced by your heart. This hormone is released in response to elevations or dips in pressure inside the heart. These changes might be indications of heart failure and other cardiac problems. The general idea is, heart failure risk is higher when BNP level is high, and lower when BNP levels are stable.
High Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hs-CRP) also known as Cardiac C-Reactive Protein (c-CRP)
The CRP blood test is used to assess overall inflammation throughout the body as CRP is only produced when something is about to or is already inflamed. There is a more specific test called Cardiac CRP or C-CRP, which assesses cardiac muscle inflammation. If your C-CRP is high, then your heart could be undergoing some damage. If your arteries are inflamed, it could be indicative of heart disease, heart attack, and strokes.
The Reference Range for C-CRP
Low Risk < 1.0 mg/L
Intermediate Risk 1.0 – 3.0
High Risk . 3.0 mg/L
Creatine Kinase is an enzyme in the brain, skeletal muscle, and other tissues, as well as the heart. High levels of creatine kinase are released when there is muscle damage.
Our recommended healthy Range for creatine kinase is:
This blood test indicates whether you have low, stable, or high potassium. When it comes to the heart, the right amount of potassium is essential for proper functioning and deficiencies can explain issues such as irregular heartbeats.
Our recommended healthy range for potassium is:
Platelets work by binding to sites of damaged vessels which then results in blood clots. Their primary purpose is to help stop us from bleeding as in the case of open wounds. Too much or too little platelets are indicative of inflammatory diseases, certain cancers or treatments for cancers, kidney dysfunction, or taking too many medications.
Our recommended healthy range for platelets is:
Anemia screening is a simple blood test that determines if a person’s red blood cells can transport oxygen properly throughout the body If left untreated; anemia can cause fatigue, lethargy, drowsiness, and nausea and contribute to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Anemia can first be suspected in a routine Complete Blood Count (CBC). If anemia is suspected, some of the additional anemia screening and diagnostic tests we use include Serum Iron, Ferritin, Folic Acid, Total Iron Binding Capacity TIBC, and b12 Folate.
Some routine screening we run especially on females include Serum iron and ferritin.
Our Recommended Healthy Ranges:
Serum Iron = 85.10-120.00 mcg/dL
Ferritin = 30.10-218.30 NG/ML
High levels of lead are associated with a 70% increase in cardiovascular disease mortality risk. It is essential to get screened for lead and eliminate exposure.
There is no healthy level of lead in a human body.
Cardiovascular Risk Profile Test
This blood test offers a genetic component to heart health monitoring. This tests apolipoproteins, which are proteins that bind lipids to form lipoproteins. The test determines whether your blood circulates too much or just enough cholesterol. You can think of it as having trucks carrying around cholesterol to various work sites in your body. Your body needs cholesterol, generally a pickup truck full here and there. If you are getting a dump truck or tractor-trailer size loads getting dropped off, then there is a problem. This advanced test can detect how your cholesterol is being transported.
Where To Get Tested
Discuss your concerns honestly with your doctor and discuss what testing should be done and at what intervals. Make a plan and a schedule and stick to it.
At Ravenswood Chiropractic & Wellness Center, this discussion and any recommended testing can be included in your annual physical exam, and follow-ups scheduled to check your progress.
Current Heart Health Screening Guidelines Recommended for Adults
Blood Pressure Screening
If you are 40 years old or older, or if you are at a higher risk for high blood pressure, get your blood pressure checked out annually.
If you are between the ages of 18 and 40 years old and aren’t at a higher risk for high blood pressure, get your blood pressure checked every three to five years.
General recommendations are to get your cholesterol checked every four to six years. However, those who have a higher risk of developing heart disease should get it checked more often. We generally recommend a blood panel that includes cholesterol 1x a year after age 26 to see where you really are and catch small issues before they become big problems. Discuss with your doctor what’s best for you.
There are currently no guidelines for screening frequency. Usually your health history and any symptoms you might be experiencing provide your doctor with an indication that you should be screened for anemia. Be sure to ask your doctor if you should be tested for anemia at your annual check-up.
There are no screening frequency guidelines established for adults. We recommend that if you haven’t been screened in a while, it is a good idea to see if you have experienced exposure. If you drink water from lead pipes (like 80% of us in Chicago), been involved in a renovation that may have exposed you to lead paint, or if you have other risk factors, get screened.
According to Lead Safe Illinois, all children in Chicago who live in a high-risk area are considered at high risk for lead poisoning. Chicago law requires these children to be first tested at six or nine months of age. We provide lead tests for all children.
Children who live in low-risk areas will need a blood lead test done when they are 12 months of age, only if their healthcare provider thinks they are at high risk.
Simple Screening and Testing Can Make a Big Difference
Testing is vitally important as you can SEE your numbers.
If interventions are required, re-testing is advised to make sure they are working, and progress is being made. If you are making an effort with whatever interventions you choose, then you should see a change in the test results in about three months. Many chiropractic physicians that include functional medicine at their office, such as ours, perform all or some of these screening tests for you and review your results with you.
Check out our blog on 15 Steps You Can Take To Improve Your Cardiovascular Health
Dr. DeFabio is a highly regarded chiropractor in Chicago who focuses on helping his patients achieve optimal health and wellness. He takes a holistic approach to care, treating symptoms and addressing underlying issues to promote long-term healing. Dr. DeFabio is passionate about empowering his patients to take control of their health and live their best lives. You can find him surfing, skateboarding, and volunteering at the Lakeview Food Pantry when he’s not in the office.