Heart Health

The month of February brings attention to the heart with both Valentine’s Day and Heart Health Month. But the reality is, we should be thinking about heart health all year long. And one could also argue that we should be letting loved ones know they too are appreciated all year. Focusing on heart health, if you would like a refresher on the role of cholesterol, heart healthy diet recommendations and healthy fats, please read my previous post. Or if you are looking for a treat to gift a friend or share with a loved one, Chocolate Bark is easy to make, contains antioxidants and can be customized to taste. 

Hopefully every year you are doing routine labs, including a lipid panel, with your Primary Care Physician. If you have had a lipid panel out of range or you are wanting to further explore your cardiovascular health, there are two tests that you may want to consider.

Cardiac Health Panel

Looking at additional cardiac health markers can provide information around risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Are your lipids small and dense, or large and fluffy? We want to minimize small and dense particles, those are ones that can get stuck and cause problems. Is your LDL cholesterol oxidized? Inflammatory markers and a couple of genetic markers like Lipoprotein(a) can provide insight about predisposition for heart-related challenges. View the Cardiac Health Panel here.

CardiaX

If you have been wondering about your heart health and specifically if your genetics put you at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, this is a great option. I always say knowledge is power. Once we have all the information, we have a better idea of all the variables that can play a role in cardiovascular health. The CardiaX panel looks at genetic markers associated with atherosclerosis, abnormal cholesterol production, hypertension, stroke risk and heart attack risk. While it can be concerning to learn this information, it can also empower you to take actionable steps to cardiovascular well-being. Remember, genetics are only part of the equation. Epigenetics means we can affect the function of genes through diet and lifestyle. View the CardiaX panel here.

My husband recently had his lipid panel come back higher than previous years. He did both of these tests to get more information. While his lipids were elevated, he doesn’t have many small and dense particles. But, he can still make some dietary changes to hopefully bring down his LDL. Things like reducing even healthy saturated fats. When we got the results of his CardiaX test, we learned he has quite a few genetic risk factors. While it was definitely a little unsettling to learn he is at risk for several of these variables (ok more than a little at first glance), he is now highly motivated to make changes. Also, knowing these genetics can result in an increased risk, we’ll encourage our son to be more diligent about monitoring his cardiovascular health at an earlier age too.

While we are on the subject of my husband’s heart health 🙂 two additional tests he did based on the recommendation of his PCP – CIMT (Carotid Intima-Media Thickness) and a carotid ultrasound. These tests assess the thickness of the inner two layers and the amount of calcification of the carotid artery. Feel free to ask your provider if either would be a good option.