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Archive for the ‘Are You at Risk?’ Category

6 Ways You Could Be at Risk for Peripheral Arterial Disease

September 20, 2013

Increased age is accompanied by many great things – from grandchildren, to retirement, to an empty nest and more free time. Unfortunately, it’s also often accompanied by increased risk for serious health problems.

One serious risk linked to increased age is peripheral arterial disease (PAD). PAD is a build-up of plaque inside the main arteries connected to the heart. This process, called atherosclerosis, can lead to chronic pain, heart disease, and even death.

However, there are ways to prevent serious cases of PAD. The first is to know if you are at risk for the condition. The second is to take advantage of PAD screenings if you are at risk.

Below are six key risk factors the American Heart Association warns can lead to peripheral artery disease:

  • High Blood Pressure: This condition often has no symptoms and it can gradually damage your arteries and blood vessels by creating scar tissue that can become clogged with plaque buildup.
  • High Cholesterol: Having high cholesterol in your blood is an easy way for plaque buildup to form. This reduces your blood’s ability to flow, which can hurt multiple areas of your body.
  • Obesity: A Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or higher promotes a higher risk of heart disease and stroke – even without other risk factors.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: People with diabetes are at increased risk of developing not only PAD, but many other cardiovascular diseases.
  • Cigarettes: Smoking increases a person’s risk for peripheral arterial disease by four times compared to nonsmokers, because smoking has been seen to directly harm the arteries.
  • Activity Level: If you’re physically inactive, your risk for heart problems in general increases. Physical activity is essential for optimum heart health.

If you are at risk for peripheral arterial disease, a condition that often shows no symptoms, you may want to consider undergoing a PAD screening from Life Line Screening. The screening is fast, easy and non-invasive, and it may alert you to the condition before it becomes catastrophic and leads to serious pain, disability or other heart conditions.

Learn more about the peripheral arterial screening now.




The Scary Consequences of Untreated Atrial Fibrillation

September 17, 2013

Many Americans are unaware of the risks posed to them by untreated heart conditions, including atrial fibrillation. Those who have this condition are at-risk for developing other life-threatening health problems such as stroke and heart failure if they don’t seek treatment.

In a patient who has atrial fibrillation (AFib), the heart quivers irregularly. According to the American Heart Association, a heart with AFib beats much faster than a healthy heart. Because of this quivering, the heart muscle contractions are not effective. As a result, the blood does not move completely from the atria to the next chamber. This causes the blood to pool in the atria, increasing the risk of blood clots. Additionally, because the blood’s movement is inconsistent and ineffective, the heart must work much harder to circulate blood throughout the body.

Atrial fibrillation is a dangerous condition because many people don’t realize they have it. This heart arrhythmia is often asymptomatic, meaning it usually doesn’t show symptoms. When it does show signs, however, they may include a rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath and lightheadedness.

 

Health Problems Linked to AFib

When atrial fibrillation goes untreated, it promotes the development of other more serious health conditions that can be life-threatening. These include both heart failure and stroke.
According to the Heart Rhythm Society, untreated AFib causes the heart to beat too fast. This can create a condition called cardiomyopathy, wherein the ventricles are beating so fast that the heart muscle weakens. Heart failure can result.

Stroke is another serious consequence of untreated atrial fibrillation. Because AFib promotes the buildup of blood clots, these blood clots can travel throughout the body into the brain, where they may create a blockage. Due to this, patients with AFib have a risk of stroke that is up to four or five times higher than stroke risk for healthy adults.

The first step in preventing such consequences is to identify the presence of atrial fibrillation through screening. If the presence of AFib is detected, the next crucial step is to seek treatment. It is with untreated atrial fibrillation that the health risks are the most serious. Treating atrial fibrillation can help keep the condition under control to avoid serious health complications, like stroke and heart failure.

Learn more about the painless, affordable atrial fibrillation screening from Life Line Screening today.




Are the Health Risks from Lack of Sleep Worse for Women?

September 12, 2013

Out of all the factors that contribute to a healthy lifestyle, getting enough sleep is important. Not getting enough shut-eye can affect a person both mentally and physically. Individuals who aren’t getting enough rest usually have less energy during the day and are more prone to stress.

Women who suffer from heart disease, in particular, need a good night’s sleep. Studies have shown that without it, women with heart problems are more susceptible to increased inflammation, which can be a dangerous health risk.

 

Inflammation and Sleep

According to a study conducted by UC San Francisco, women who lack enough sleep, have coronary heart disease and frequently wake up too early suffer from an increase in unhealthy levels of inflammation.

Data from the study was gathered from about 700 participants who had stable coronary heart disease. The men taking part in the study had an average age of 66, while the women had an average age of 64. Their sleep quality and inflammation levels were closely examined at the beginning and end of a five year period.

After that five-year period, the study found a connection between poor sleep and inflammation only in the female participants. Explanations for this result fall on the fact that most of the women participating in the study were post-menopausal, which meant that they had lower estrogen levels. Because of this, the testosterone levels in men may have protected them from the sleep effects.

Other data gathered from the study include the fact that women are more likely to suffer from poor sleep than men. For instance, 81 percent of the study’s female participants experienced frequent waking as opposed to 78 percent of the study’s male participants, while 50 percent of the women woke too early as opposed to 41 percent of men.

This study emphasizes the importance of getting plenty of sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to many negative health effects, including increased risk of stroke, obesity, diabetes, bone loss and cancer. It’s also been linked to faster memory loss and shorter life expectancy.

A heart disease screening is an important step for heart disease prevention. To be more proactive with your health, turn to Life Line Screening today.




Why You Should Get Your Cholesterol Checked ASAP

September 10, 2013

High cholesterol is a major problem for Americans, especially as they age. Over one-third of adults have high levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, according to the Centers for Disease Control, yet less than half of them receive treatment. Only one in three have the condition under control.

Not only are many people unaware of the presence of high cholesterol and its dangers, they’re unaware of the main reasons why they should be having their cholesterol checked regularly. Here are a few of those reasons:

 

High cholesterol is asymptomatic.

Because high cholesterol levels often present no symptoms but can lead to life-threatening conditions, early cholesterol screening and treatment is important.

 

Risk factors can increase your odds of having high cholesterol.

There are two different types of cholesterol, HDL (good) and LDL (bad). HDL prevents cholesterol from building up in the arteries, while LDL encourages such buildup. Higher levels of HDL can prevent heart disease, whereas high LDL levels can lead to heart disease. While anyone with poor health maintenance can develop high levels of LDL cholesterol, the CDC identifies certain high cholesterol risk factors, including:

  • Advanced age
  • Diabetes
  • Diet
  • Weight
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Heredity

Since these risk factors represent a significant proportion of the population, regular cholesterol screening is key to preventing the consequences of high cholesterol.

 

High cholesterol can lead to more serious, life-threatening problems.

Too much cholesterol in the blood leads to hardening of the arteries. Hardened arteries make it harder for blood to flow to the heart. Over time, arteries can become blocked, leading to chest pain and eventually heart attack.

Another potential result of high cholesterol is Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). The narrowing and blockage of the same arteries prevents blood flow from leaving the heart and reaching the extremities. This condition presents itself through pain and numbness in the arms and legs. If left untreated, lack of blood flow may necessitate amputation of the damaged appendage.

 

Cholesterol screening is fast and easy.

The good news is that testing for these conditions is simple. To detect high cholesterol, Life Line Screening performs a finger-prick test and examines levels of HDL, LDL, and triglycerides, another fat present in the blood. Life Line Screening can also perform a PAD screening using a non-invasive procedure involving pressure cuffs and an ultrasound machine.

High cholesterol is a common problem that can have detrimental side effects. But screening early and often, as well as taking necessary treatments seriously, can limit the effects and prevent heart disease.




Study: Being Cheerful Linked to Lower Heart Attack Risk

September 3, 2013

When given a choice of whether you want to be happy or unhappy, the answer should be easy: happy. Although it’s not as easy as simply deciding to be happy, finding out what makes you happy and striving for it can improve your heart health, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Cardiology called “Effect of Positive Well-Being on Incidence of Symptomatic Coronary Artery Disease.”

The study found that people who are happy and/or have a more optimistic outlook on life seem to have a lower risk of suffering a heart attack. While these results show another way to lower your heart attack risk, they don’t necessarily mean that people shouldn’t have a heart disease screening, especially at older ages. The results also don’t mean that those who have a greater heart disease risk due to genetics or health issues shouldn’t still take precautions. Being cheerful, however, could be one way to improve your heart health.

A team of seven prominent professors and researchers followed nearly 1,500 people, all of whom had brothers or sisters who had a heart attack or some other sudden coronary problem prior to turning 60 years of age. Observation of these participants lasted 25 years.

Throughout the study, the participants were asked to complete surveys that asked questions about their general life and overall happiness, such as their level of relaxation and anxiety, satisfaction in life, health concerns, and their level of cheerfulness. After following up with these participants after twelve years, researchers found that those who had an overall positive well-being and outlook were 50 percent less likely to experience a coronary event.

These findings were strengthened by the results of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which showed that happier people were 13 percent less likely to suffer from a heart attack or other coronary event.

“A happier temperament has an actual effect of disease and you may be healthier as a result,” said study researcher Lise R. Yanek, M.P.H., in a Huffington Post article.

While it’s great news that people can take their health into their own hands by focusing on things that make them happier, other lifestyle factors play a huge role in overall heart health. This includes regular physical activity, nutritious diets, not smoking, maintaining healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels and avoiding heavy alcohol consumption.

Find out more about heart disease risk factors and heart disease screening from Life Line Screening now.




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