Many people across the country take heart health for granted. Colleen Coughlin, MD, FACC, cardiologist for Atlantic Medical Group, and a leading specialist at the Gagnon Cardiovascular Institute, thinks it’s time for some straight talk about cardiac health.
“We’re seeing more and more patients with prediabetes, high cholesterol, hormonal disturbances, elevated blood pressure and excessive waist circumference,” says Dr. Coughlin. “This is not a good sign. If you – or someone you know – is in one of these higher risk groups, talk with your primary care physician about screening options.”
Dr. Coughlin offers a simple test anyone can conduct at home. Grab a tape measure and wrap it around your waist at the belly button. If your waist measures above 35 inches for women or 40 inches for men, you are likely in a higher-risk category for metabolic syndrome and consequently, heart disease.
For starters, have your blood tested for cholesterol. If you pass with flying colors, keep doing what you’re doing and have it repeated every five years. If your waist circumference, blood sugar or blood pressure is elevated, your primary care physician will help you determine the best action plan.
“I would rather see people in our community focus on optimal heart health at a younger age,” says Dr. Coughlin. “Eating healthier foods and exercising regularly will reduce your risk from a cardiovascular standpoint.” If you smoke or have a family history of heart disease, being proactive with preventive measures can have a big impact in your long-term health. A CT coronary calcification score, a simple, inexpensive test, can identify individual risk.
February is Heart Health Month, so there’s no time like the present to call your doctor to schedule an appointment to discuss your heart health.
For more information, call 973-971-8900.