Heart health and cardiovascular disease health is dominating the news. And it should. Improving heart health will make you look better, have better sleep, have better sex, and make you perform better and more efficiently; AND better heart health reduces your risks of strokes, and heart attacks, and high blood pressure. Thus improving your heart health helps to save your kidneys, your eye sight and your brain function as well!
There are many cost effective and relatively simple heart tests that you can have, which can then be used to improve your heart health. Just having completed a few circuits at the gym gives you a hint that some things are functioning well. Being unduly fatigued or short of breath or seeing that your ankles are swelling in the morning, those could be your body signaling that you are not quite as healthy.
Although there are some 400 factors leading to heart disease, not all of which can be tested, some factors are more easily identified, and more important, more readily treated.Here are some of the tests you may want to start with.
1. Poor circulation means worse kidney function, and if the kidneys aren’t functioning they will push protein through to your urine in greater amounts. The first test of heart’s ability to pump is to test your pee for protein…this test is relatively sensitive, but we know that you can get a false positive result if not done thoughtfully. If you exercise like a maniac for a day or two, this always throws it off, heavy exercise can make you spill protein in your urine without anything else being wrong.
2. Test your B vitamin levels: homocysteine, folic acid, and B12 are all critically important for overall heart health and those with genetic mutations, such as the MTHFR gene variants, can be at greater risk if their B vitamins are also off. Just having slightly defective MTHFR genes, meaning that you actually have one normal and only one abnormal gene may not really be a problem if your levels of B vitamins in your food is optimized. And we can tell that if your homocysteine levels are elevated.
3. Test your body for inflammation. Inflammation can cause many diseases, and cardiovascular disease is one. Test your blood for inflammation: Cardio C-Reactive Protein, fibrinogen, and other markers of inflammation all contribute to how likely you are to have heart disease, and it is the C-CRP that is most available and often covered by your insurance.
4. Check your lipid particle status, not just a whole cholesterol panel, check the triglycerides and the apolipoproteins, the size of your particles, the exact nature of your good and bad cholesterol. In fact the newest tests will test for fractional particles which may never show up on a routine blood exam. You may also want to check the genetics of your ability to form lipid-protein molecules, and this can tell you if you are more likely to get high cholesterol from dietary mistakes such as excess carbohydrate intake.
5. Take your pulse at rest. Resting heart rate shows, generally speaking, how well your heart is functioning. So be sure to know what is your pulse actual pulse rate. You can also check your pulse at various times of the day. After exercise? In the morning? Do a pulse challenge, take your morning pulse today, then exercise consistently this summer and then take your pulse again in 3 months. If you have improved your morning resting pulse you have likely improved your fitness.
6. Blood pressure measurement; another test that is best done at home at various times of the day. Send your numbers to your PCP and find out if they are normal.
7. EKG testing you would need to do in your health care provider’s office, especially if you feel you skip beats, have extra beats, have a racing heart beat.
8. Medication? From red rice yeast to statins, to hormone therapy, to diabetes medicines, it’s important to use medications if your diet and exercise efforts are leaving you with heart risk.
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