Your doctor may use a number of tests to help determine your risk of heart disease and next steps. Many of these test provide number measurements that provide your doctor with critical information.

Below are some of those “number” tests that your healthcare team need to know the results.

Lipoprotein Profile

Fasting for 9-12 hours I required before having blood drawn and tested. The blood will be evaluated for:

  • Total Cholesterol – a fatty substance made by the liver and found in the blood; it is a component of bile. The body needs cholesterol, it is used by every cell and helps make some hormones and vitamin D.
  • LDL Cholesterol – Low Density Lipoprotein is the “bad” cholesterol. It carries cholesterol from the liver to the body’s cells. If there is too much it causes the fatty material (plaque) to build up in the artery walls.
  • Doctor taking blood sample

    HDL Cholesterol – High Density Lipoprotein is the “good” cholesterol. It carries cholesterol back to the liver to get broken down.

  • Triglycerides – This is another type of fat (not cholesterol) that is in the blood stream. They are also made in the liver. Triglycerides are found in foods like meats, dairy and cooking oils. Too high a level raises the risk of heart disease.

It is important that your healthcare team know these numbers so they can assess your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Fasting Plasma Glucose

This is the preferred test for diagnosing diabetes. This is another blood test that requires fasting for 9-12 hours. Many healthcare providers will draw enough blood for both cholesterol and diabetes testing. This way the patient is only poked once and fasting only once.

A level of 126 mg/dl or higher in two tests on different days is considered being diabetic. A level of 100-125 mg/dl is considered pre diabetic and a higher risk of developing diabetes.

It is important to be tested at least every 3 years beginning at age 45. Test more frequently if there are risks factors such as family history of diabetes and obesity.

Monitoring and maintaining your blood sugar levels are important for your heart health. High blood sugar can cause damage to blood vessels and cause nerve damage. People with diabetes are also more likely to have other risk factors.

Blood Pressure

Taking blood pressureMost people have had their blood pressure checked at some point. It is a painless, non-invasive test. An inflatable cuff is put on your upper arm and inflated, cutting off the circulation in the brachial artery. As the cuff deflates blood sounds are detected using a stethoscope.

The monitor measures two pressures systolic and diastolic. Systolic pressure is higher and occurs when the heart beats and pushes blood through the arteries. Diastolic pressure is lower and measured when the heart is resting and filling with blood.

It is important to know your blood pressure, if it is too high you are at risk for heart disease. High Blood Pressure is called the “silent killer” because there are not any noticeable symptoms. The best way to know if you have high blood pressure is to monitor it.

Body Mass Index (BMI) and Waist Circumference

  • Overweight Man large waistBMI is a measurement that shows the ratio of your height and weight and shows if your weight is in a healthy proportion for your height.
  • Waist circumference measures the fat around your middle. A larger waist usually means that there is excess fat in your abdomen. This fat is called visceral fat and is stored inside the abdominal cavity and around vital organs and poses considerable risk to health.

Both tests only require a measurements/weight. For BMI it is a calculation using a person height and weight. Waist circumference is measured with a tape measure. Both simple and painless.

A BMI of 25 – 29 is overweight, 30 or higher is obesity. Both overweight and obesity are strong risk factors for heart disease. A waist measurement of 35 inches for women and 40 for men is considered elevated risk for heart disease.

Other Tests to determine heart disease

There are several other tests that can be used to determine if you already have heart disease. Your doctors may prescribe a stress test, an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) or other diagnostic tests to assess your heart health.

What are your numbers?

Talk to your healthcare team about finding out what your numbers are and what they mean. Ask if you are at increased risk for heart disease and how you can reduce that risk. Knowing your numbers and understanding how to improve them will help reduce your risk of a heart attack, stroke, or cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Bobish

Dr. Bobish and her team’s goal is to help you reduce your risk of heart disease. Helping you to understand your risk factors and make healthful lifestyle changes.

Remember regardless of age or current state of health it is never too late to start protecting your heart. It is also never too soon and the sooner you act the better. Follow us on Facebook to see our latest post helping to keep you heart healthy. You can also explore all our articles that offer diet and exercise tips, recipes and information on procedures and heart disease.

Dr. Bobish and her team focus on preventative care and are here to support you. Alpine Cardiology provides patients with education as well as compassionate care and treatment. We are committed to keeping you healthy and heart smart! Request an appointment at 989-448-7002

Guide to a Healthy Heart

We are committed to keeping Northern Michigan healthy and heart-smart!

Over the next several months we will be publishing a series of articles that will become A Guide to a Healthy Heart. By breaking these guidelines into chapters we are able to offer more in depth information on the topics. Watch our Facebook page or website for the latest article.

Alpine Cardiology’s goal is to give you a better understanding of how to live a healthy lifestyle and to take care of your heart. To take the mystery out of what the tests are and what they mean. To encourage you to talk to your healthcare provider about your risk factors and how to reduce your risk. The more you know and understand the more likely you are to be successful in reducing risk and having a healthier lifestyle.

Links to published chapters are below if you would like to explore the guide more.

  1. Why should I care about heart disease?
  2. Heart Disease – What you need to know
  3. Are you at risk of developing heart disease?
  4. What are your numbers?
  5. Major Risk Factors
  6. Cholesterol and Heart Disease Risk
  7. Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol
  8. Weight and Heart Disease
  9. Diabetes and Heart Disease
  10. What Else Affects Heart Disease
  11. Risk Factors Specific to Women
  12. Taking Charge: An Action Plan for Heart Health
  13. Give Your Heart a Little TLC
  14. Figuring Out Fat
  15. Aim for a Healthy Weight – Part 1
  16. Aim for a Healthy Weight – Part 2
  17. Time to be Active
  18. You Can Quit Smoking
  19. Aspirin – Take with Caution
  20. Heart Healthy is a Family Affair
  21. A Change of Heart