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How healthy is your heart? It’s a question that many people can’t answer honestly. They know they are not experiencing any of the symptoms you hear about on TV hospital dramas, so they figure everything is okay.

The truth is nearly half the adult population in this country has a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and they don’t know it, according to the CDC. They call hypertension, or high blood pressure, the silent killer because there are rarely any symptoms. High blood pressure silently causes damage to your arteries and heart.

Heart screenings ensure you know exactly how healthy your heart is and what you should be doing to prevent or treat cardiovascular disease and other heart-related problems. AnMed Health, designated an accredited Chest Pain Center by the American College of Cardiology, offers many types of heart screenings.

What are heart screening tests?

A heart screening test provides information about your heart health and your risks of heart disease.

What is a blood pressure test?

A blood pressure test is something many people will have every time they go to the doctor. It is also one of the most important heart screening tests because it determines whether you have hypertension or not. Having high blood pressure increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Starting at age 20, it’s important to have a blood pressuring screening test every two years.

What is a blood cholesterol test?

A blood cholesterol test, also called a lipid panel or profile, measures the amount of cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that your body does need in small amounts. When there is too much of it, though, it can build up on the walls of the arteries, a condition called atherosclerosis and put you at risk for heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.

Starting at age 20, you should have a lipid panel done every four years.

What is a blood glucose test?

Blood glucose is something you may know as blood sugar. High blood sugar levels can indicate untreated diabetes. Having diabetes increases your risk of heart disease and stroke, but it also may lead to kidney disease, blindness, nerve damage, and hearing impairment.

There are different types of blood glucose tests, including:

Fasting blood sugar—Blood is taken to measure the glucose level while you are fasting.
Random blood sugar—Sugar levels are checked regardless of whether you have eaten or not.
Glycated hemoglobin (A1C)—This test doesn’t check your current blood sugar level. Instead, it indicates your average blood sugar level over the past two or three months. It is a definitive test for type 2 diabetes. Two reading of 6.5 or higher indicate you have diabetes. By age 40, you should have a blood glucose test every three years.

What is BMI?

Body mass index (BMI) is a gauge for measuring how much tissue mass —muscle, fat, and bone —you have compared to your height. It helps determine if you are underweight, of average weight, overweight or obese. Being anything but normal weight puts you at risk for certain illnesses. Being overweight or obese may increase your chances of heart disease.

You should calculate your body mass at home or during an annual check-up.

The doctor may suggest you have certain screening tests more or less often based on your health. Someone with high cholesterol, for example, may need that screening test once a year instead of every four years.

What are heart disease tests?

Heart disease tests help determine if heart disease exists and how best to treat it.

What is ECG/EKG?

An electrocardiogram, also known as an EKG or ECG, is a test that records the electrical signals in your heart. When the heart beats, an electrical impulse travels through the heart, causing the muscle to squeeze and pump blood. An EKG can tell doctors if the heart waves are normal, slow, fast or irregular and if parts of the heart are overworked.

What is an exercise cardiac stress test?

The heart is responsible for delivering oxygen-rich blood to the body. During a stress test, patients are often put on a treadmill to see how well the heart handles the increased activity. Doctors can see if the heart pumps blood normally or if the blood supply is reduced.

What is echocardiography?

An echocardiology creates an image of your heart using sound waves. It allows doctors to check your heart and whether it’s beating and pumping blood normally.

What is a nuclear stress test?

During this test, doctors use radioactive dye and an imaging machine to create pictures of the heart. Those pictures show the heart’s bloodflow and can help doctors see where blood flow is poor or if parts of the heart are damaged.

What is a cardiac CT scan?

A cardiac CT scan compiles a 3D model of the heart using x-ray imaging. The detailed picture of the heart and all of its blood vessels shows doctors whether there are blockages or a buildup of plaque.

What is a coronary CT angiography?

A coronary CT angiography test uses an iodine contrast material and a CT scanner to examine the arteries around the heart and determine if there is narrowing.

What is a coronary catheter angiogram?

By inserting a catheter and threading it up through blood vessels to the heart, the doctor can check for blocked or narrowed arteries using a dye.

How much do heart screenings cost?

The cost of heart screenings will be very little for many people because their health insurance will cover the bulk of the expense. Heart screenings tests may be at no cost because they are part of wellness care.

Those without health insurance have options, too. Blood pressure machines in local grocery stores and pharmacies offer a free way to check your blood pressure.

There are also federal health centers that provide screening and tests to anyone regardless of whether they can afford to pay or not.

It is important not to let cost be a factor in your health because heart screening tests are critical. Every 36 seconds, someone dies of cardiovascular disease. That’s why free clinics and heart clinics in many cities offer screening at no charge.

Heart screenings in Anderson, SC

AnMed Health Heart and Vascular Center, in Anderson, SC, urges you to get screened for heart disease and undergo the necessary tests to keep your heart and cardiovascular system safe. AnMed Health is an accredited Chest Pain Center by the American College of Cardiology, and here you’ll find comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plans from our cardiac specialists. Visiting your primary care provider for regular check-ups, including blood pressure checks, is a step in the right direction for good heart health. Schedule an appointment with your primary care provider, or if you need help finding one, please call 864.512.3748. 

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