Friday, February 01, 2013
February brings images of hearts along with roses, chocolates, treats, and affection! However, February is also American Heart Health Month. According to National University of Health Sciences, there's a reason to celebrate.
"Preventive care for heart disease is much more advanced than it used to be, and new blood tests can assess your stage of risk for heart attack with greater accuracy," says Dr. David Parish, dean of clinics at National University.
Today's cardiac risk tests go far beyond a cholesterol test. Five blood tests from Cleveland HeartLab can calculate the level of inflammation damage and plaque build-up in the cardiovascular system. "Half of all people who have a heart attack have 'normal' cholesterol levels at the time," says Dr. Parish. "These additional tests give us a clearer picture of an individual's risk profile for heart attack, and allow us to direct that patient to the best preventive measures for their level of risk."
The tests measure whether arterial plaque is growing and at risk for developing into an obstruction or infarction, causing a heart attack. In fact, one of the five tests can determine whether you are at high risk for imminent heart attack within the next one or two years.
"Certainly anyone with a family history of heart disease should take advantage of these new tests," says Dr. Parish. National University's Whole Health Center in Lombard offers the Cleveland HeartLab tests as part of a cardiac wellness initiative.
Despite better diagnostic tests, other news on heart health is not as good. "Atherosclerosis, a key risk factor for heart disease, is now increasingly found in teenagers and young adults," says Dr. Fraser Smith, dean of naturopathic medicine at National University. "Our Cleveland Clinic friends did a study that shows 1 in 6 teenagers have the beginning of coronary artery involvement."
The study also noted that youth with atherosclerosis usually experienced no noticeable symptoms that might lead them to seek preventive care. "The lesson here is that it's never too early to have a risk assessment for heart disease," says Dr. Smith.
Why not celebrate February by taking care of your heart and the hearts of your loved ones by making an appointment for a cardiac check-up? For more information on cardiac wellness, or to schedule Cleveland HeartLab tests with a National University physician, call 1-630-629-9664.