Straight to the Heart - Part One

Heart disease may be the leading cause of death for both men and women, but that doesn't mean you have to accept it as your fate.

Some risk factors, such as family history, age and race you can't change, but there are some key prevention steps you can take.

First of all, don't smoke, get regular exercise, and eat healthy foods.

One of the best ways to keep a check on your heart is to get regular health screenings. High blood pressure and high cholesterol can damage your cardiovascular system including your heart, but without testing, you probably won't know whether you have these conditions.

Adults should have their blood pressure checked at least every two years, more often depending on your numbers and other risk factors.

Optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80. Adults also need to have their cholesterol checked at last once every five years. Once again that depends on your risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

To have your blood sugar and cholesterol checked you have to donate a little blood.

Regular screenings can tell you what your numbers are and whether you need to take action, and if you're a little squeamish.The process only takes a few minutes. The blood is marked - and then sent to the lab.

Lab technicians put the blood through a number of screenings. It's being tested for glucose levels.

Since there is a history of diabetes in my family, it's important to keep a check on sugar levels. They're also testing for both types of cholesterol, ldl which is the bad cholesterol and hdl the good kind.

The results are then sent to the doctor.

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