Monitoring and Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease
There are several conditions that can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Chief among them are high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. Addressing these conditions in consultation with your physician can lower your risk for heart disease.
Have your cholesterol checked. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in all cells of your body. It is needed to make hormones, vitamin D and helps in the digestion of food. There are three kinds of cholesterol – low-density lipoproteins (LDL), high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and triglycerides. Having healthy levels of all types of cholesterol is important.
When there is too much LDL cholesterol in your blood, it builds up in your arteries, blocks blood flow and increases your risk of developing heart disease. In general, the higher the level of LDL cholesterol (sometimes called bad cholesterol) in your blood, the GREATER your chance is of getting heart disease. The higher the level of HDL cholesterol (sometimes called good cholesterol) in your blood, the LOWER your chance is of getting heart disease.
By itself high cholesterol levels has no signs or symptoms, so regular measurement through blood testing is required.
Monitor your blood pressure. Blood pressure is the amount of pressure or force that blood exerts on the walls of your blood vessels. Hypertension (high blood pressure) is sometimes called “the silent killer” because it usually has no symptoms. Some people may not find out they have it until they have trouble with their heart, brain, or kidneys.
A blood pressure reading below 120/80 is considered normal. In general, lower is better. However, very low blood pressures can sometimes be a cause for concern and should be checked out by a doctor.
A blood pressure of 140/90 or higher is considered high blood pressure. Both numbers are important. If one or both numbers are usually high, you have high blood pressure. If you are being treated for high blood pressure, you still have high blood pressure even if you have repeated readings in the normal range.
A single high blood pressure reading does not mean that you have high blood pressure. Your blood pressure varies throughout the day and can be temporarily high if you are anxious, stressed, or has just been exercising. Medications such as common cough and cold remedies can also cause temporary high blood pressure. For this reason several reading are required to confirm a diagnosis of hypertension.
Manage your diabetes. Diabetes is treatable, but even when glucose levels are under control it greatly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. That’s because people with diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes, often have concomitant conditions such as high cholesterol, obesity or high blood pressure that contribute to their risk for developing cardiovascular disease.
If you have diabetes, closely monitor your blood sugar levels and talk with your health care provider about treatment options.
Take your medicine. If you’re taking medication to treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes, follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. Non-compliance to a medication regime can negate its benefit.
Talk with your health care provider. You and your doctor can work together to prevent or treat the medical conditions that lead to cardiovascular disease. Have your health care provider develop a treatment plan and follow-up regularly to monitor your progress.