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  • Writer's pictureMartha Calihan MD

Assessments for Heart Health

There are a lot of things we can do without…..a healthy heart is not one of them.

Heart health is arguably the most important part of our wellbeing, as it is at the core of everything else that matters.

How do we look at the health of our heart, and what can we do to protect it? To help keep it strong and healthy enough to let us each lead our fullest and healthiest lives?

Heart health has many components; from nutrirional, to the effects of stress, our exercise, our sleep to our toxin load. Each of these factors can contribute to the overall health of our heart.

Assessing our heart health can begin with checking the blood pressure, as we know that untreated hypertension is a common underlying cause of long-term damage to the heart muscle. Ideally, our blood pressure should be less than 120/80. It can be helpful to have it checked in different settings and different times of the day if it seems high on a single reading. But high blood pressure needs to be addressed and treated, because of the long term consequences that can occur if left untreated.

An exercise stress test is commonly used to assess the health of our heart; an abnormal result can indicate a blocked artery that supplies blood to the heart muscle, and can be an indicator that further evaluation is necessary.

Beyond a stress test, our cardiology colleagues have other very specific ways to assess heart health, and I often recommend that people with concerns of a strong family history of heart disease get evaluated.

We also have the ability to look at the health of our arteries, a closely related part of overall cardiovascular wellbeing. Here at Five Stones Healing Arts and Wellness Center we use a special test that measures the thickness and health of the carotid artery, a test called the CIMT along with a doppler to look for blockages in the carotid arteries. We offer this test quarterly right here in our office.

We also look not just at total cholesterol, but at advanced lipid markers in our practice to help determine a person’s risk of heart disease from their cholesterol profile.

Once we have gathered all this information, an individual plan is put in place, taking into account all the risk factors and issues mentioned above: nutrition, sleep, stress, exercise. We have action plans to help you move in the direction that will help support your optimal well-being in each of these areas, and we look forward to working with you to improve the health of your heart!

If you're interested in signing up for our next CIMT event, call Angie at 703-669-6118.

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