Heart disease can be silent.
Whether you’re reading this section for a loved one, or yourself, the message here is how to be proactive about your health and specifically, preventing cardiovascular disease.
Let’s begin with the age of your heart. Were you even aware that your heart has an age too? That’s right. Dr. Mir Ali, discussing heart age, said, “Many times your chronological age and your heart age do not match — example: your age may be 59, but your heart’s age may be 69.”
There are “calculators” that establish your heart’s age based on your health characteristics and risk factors.
There is a “heart age calculator” on www.heart.org, the official information site with resources from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology. This calculates your baseline risk by giving you a percentage calculation that enables health care providers and patients to estimate 10-year and lifetime risks for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD).
The site also suggests that you review your calculator score with your physician. The key is that you share the information with your physician.
Regardless of your heart’s age, there are many ways to be an active-participant in your own health:
• Lifestyle changes help to prevent heart disease. And, even if you make an appointment with your PCP or cardiologist, you are still in control of your behaviors and proactive changes.
• If you’re alarmed by your score or have specific questions, then make an appointment with a cardiologist. There are many treatment options that you may not be aware of, yet (i.e. EECP).
• It’s never a “waste of time” when it comes to your health. Get your baseline diagnostic tests scheduled (blood pressure, EKG, blood work) because many times you’ll get peace of mind.
• Talk with family and friends about your concerns — or — your concerns for them. A visit with a cardiologist may just be the appointment that’s needed.
So, as the researcher/writer of this piece, I took the online heart age test. My percentage for risk over the next 10 years is 1.9%. So, I’m feeling relatively comfortable with that score, today. Does this mean I don’t have a need to schedule an appointment for baseline testing and continue to monitor as my age advances over the coming decades?
Health is a very personal topic. There’s no guarantee that a score is a guarantee. But, with attainable goals set for dietary changes, a ramp-up of an exercise routine and knowing the signs, along with a visiting with a cardiologist, who is also your coach, can make a difference in your cardiovascular health.