How’s Your Heart Health? Why You Should Get A Screening

You’re hyper-alert about COVID, but how about your heart? Have you had a heart-health screening in the last few years, or ever? If not, it is time to make an appointment.

Colonoscopies are recommended for people over the age of 50. Yearly mammograms are a must for women over 40. But what about your heart? 

I’m discussing this topic today because I want you to get a heart screening.

I don’t blog every week like I used to, because, unless I have information that will help you in some way, I don’t want to take up your time (Well, with the exception of promoting my Ounce of Salt Fine Jewelry once in a while since I think everyone should have fine jewelry). 

Get an Advanced Heart Screening 

Let me get to the point and then I will rewind to give you more details. I had a heart screening at my local hospital’s program called Advanced Heart Screening by Providence this week. The test offered to my community is $250, but costs the hospital about $1500 to administer. Their foundation covers the difference due to their belief in the importance of early testing. My eyebrow raised about this, as I can be a skeptical person. But after going through the testing, I believe it 100%.

My results came back with several reg flags which requires me to find and go see a cardiologist. Look at the heading picture for this post. Would you guess I have heart issues? It’s from this morning after my 5 mile run. 

Although I’m married to a doctor, I am the least medical person in the world, so I will speak in VERY basic terms here. My heart isn’t pumping right. The walls of the heart are moving in an abnormal motion as it beats. My EKG showed abnormalities. There were a few other things the tests revealed that are not as alarming, like borderline high blood pressure and elevated blood glucose levels. 

I am not writing this to get your sympathy. I am the opposite of a hypochondriac… I do not worry until there is conclusive information to do so. My mom is at the age where she worries about everything under the sun so I will not tell her any of this. She’s not great at reading English so won’t see this post haha. I’ll get more tests with a cardiologist to see what’s going on, so don’t worry about me.

I’m writing this to scare you into getting a heart screening for yourself. 

Ok, now I’ll back up and tell you the story of how all this came about. 

After the recent sudden passing of another dad in his 50’s from heart issues within my small community of Manhattan Beach, my friend pressed me to make an appointment for my husband to get a heart screening. I’d known about the test for a few years and it was on “my list,” along with so many other to-dos. Sound familiar? 

My husband is 51 and has a family history of strokes. With my dad passing when I was 9, I have a bit of paranoia that he will die early like my father did. So I called and made an appointment for Dave, and then thought, let me get one too since it’s been 5 years since I had a cardio work-up. My dad died of heart disease, so it is something I’m careful about with my own health. But since I had a genetic blood test performed for risk of different types of diseases this past fall that came out clear, and since I had a heart work up a few years back (different type though), I wasn’t concerned. 

Details about Heart Screening

The testing portion of the heart screening took about 1.5 hours where they performed several tests while I was laying down with a mask on. I visited 2 exam rooms. The first room was with a nurse who performed tests such as an EKG, blood pressure, taking my blood, weight and body fat tests. She talked me through much of what was going on, including the readings of my blood pressure and my body fat composition. The second room was with an ultrasound tech who spent about 30 minutes looking at my heart, the arteries, and my thyroid from different angles. 

After the test, they told me to wait in my car so the tests can be interpreted. They said they’d come get me in a few minutes and someone would explain my results. 

I did not expect any issue. Instead, I was fretting via text to my girlfriends about getting a 32% body fat reading. Could the machine have been broken? Why is it so high when I recently lost 12lbs and I run three days a week? I’ve been feeling super fit and muscular lately! I’ll have to ask about this when they go over my results, is what I thought. 

I went inside the Director’s office to get my results explained to me, and the first thing I asked was, “How accurate is your fat composition machine?” He replied, “We will go through all of your results but there are other concerns from your testing I’d like to discuss first.” 

I won’t go into the details of our meeting, but it was informative and eye opening. I was given a whole folder with my testing information, results, and a thumb drive of my ultrasound to give to my doctors. 

Don’t Take Your Health for Granted

I went for a run this morning and reflected on this visit. My perspective went from, I need to get my body fat down… to, I am grateful I can run 5 miles. I imagined if I couldn’t, how that would feel. I thought about my mortality. I imagined my heart being a life threatening issue and if so, the ramifications to follow. 

We need wake up calls to make shifts in life. I’m thinking this heart test screening was one for me. 

COVID is a wake up call in many ways too, right? 

I had no symptoms regarding my cardiovascular health, I run 15 miles a week. I follow a healthy diet (I do drink too much, though – 1-2 glasses a day). I am 47 years old. But my heart seems to be pumping like I’ve had heart attacks or some type of strain in the past. I will get myself checked out and know I’ll be ok.

But let’s talk about you. Can you please go get a heart screening too? Because it’s the only reason I’m sharing my personal health information here.

It’s not the same to get your yearly physical. Doctors don’t have super-powers. Unless you are getting specific testing to look for specific problems, many health issues can go undetected. Do not rely on your primary doctor to find issues. Be your own health advocate and treat your body with the care it deserves. I’m learning. 

For more info on health, see my Blog section on Wellness. I discuss my journey with fibroids in detail, as well as other health topics like my recent macro diet! And if you’re not subscribed already, join my email list to get posts delivered to your inbox as they are published! 

My husband’s test is next week. Fingers crossed his is all clear. I’ll keep you updated on my heart health after I see more doctors. Let me know if this post motivates you to get a heart screening! Take care and I’ll be back soon!

Flavor Your Life with an Ounce of Salt. A Lifestyle Blog by Jen Oliak