February is all about hearts.
Granted, when we think about February and hearts, we automatically think of Valentine’s Day. It’s a holiday that means a lot when you’re in love, but not nearly as much for many of us who tend to just skip it.
But there’s more to February than your emotional heart. February is also about your physical beating heart. Unfortunately, when it comes to heart health, many people skip that as well.
What you can do to prevent a “broken” heart.
When was the last time you had a complete physical? Not a trip to your doctor for an injury or illness, but a complete physical? Hard to remember?
An annual physical is an essential cornerstone of your overall wellness. Besides the dreaded “step on the scales, please,” a comprehensive physical covers many aspects of your heart health—some that may surprise you.
Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Each time your heart beats, it pumps blood into the arteries. Your blood pressure is highest when your heart beats. This is called systolic pressure. When your heart is at rest, your blood pressure falls between beats. This is called diastolic pressure.
Should you be concerned if your blood pressure is higher than an average reading of 120/60? When your blood pressure stays high over time, it causes the heart to pump harder and work overtime, possibly leading to serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney failure.
But high blood pressure only happens in older adults, right? Wrong.
Everyone, especially men, should have a routine blood pressure check beginning in their 20s to identify any underlying blood pressure elevation. Then after a normal baseline reading is established, it should be checked at least every two years.
The F-Word (Fat)
Cholesterol is a fatty substance essential for your body to function. A certain amount of cholesterol is healthy, as it forms part of the cell walls and is also necessary to make hormones.
A small portion of fat is needed in our diet, but fat is less healthy than other nutrients as it can raise blood cholesterol and increase our risk of heart disease. Fat is also high in calories and can lead to weight gain. And a diet high in saturated fat, the harmful fat, can increase our ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol.
HDL “good” cholesterol helps keep things running smoothly. But too much LDL “bad” cholesterol can be deposited along the walls of arteries, forming fatty material that causes blood vessels to become narrowed or blocked and reducing the blood supply to your heart, which may eventually result in a heart attack or stroke.
And high cholesterol doesn’t occur in only older adults. High cholesterol can be hereditary, so knowing your numbers is essential.
You can’t turn on the TV without hearing a commercial about medications that can lower your A1C level. But what is it?
The A1C test is a relatively simple blood test that gives you a picture of your average blood sugar level over the past two to three months. The higher the levels, the greater your risk of developing diabetes complications.
If you’re overweight or obese or have a family history of diabetes, getting a baseline screening for diabetes every three years is essential. Why? Diabetes and heart disease often go together. Adults with diabetes are twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke than those without it.
Celebrate Heart Month with a Physical
What’s the best gift you can give your valentine or yourself? A healthy heart. And it all starts with a baseline physical.
Add one more item to your New Year’s Resolutions and book an annual appointment. Let’s get healthy together. Visit our Nashville-area clinics for all urgent care, primary care and COVID-19 testing needs available in two convenient locations and one simple online scheduling available. The Complete Health Partners (CHP) West Nashville urgent care clinic location, located in the Nashville West shopping center next to Costco and Target, is open 7 days a week from 9am-7pm. The newest clinic located in Hendersonville, TN Hendersonville urgent care clinic is open from 9am to 7pm 7 days a week for COVID-19 testing, primary care and urgent care. All CHP clinics are locally owned and operated by emergency room physicians, prepared to help with comprehensive healthcare needs. We are proud to serve Tennesseans from Dickson to Downtown and from Ashland City to Hendersonville!