Are you constantly worried about your heart health because of a family history of heart disease? You have a good reason to be. Heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the U.S., and your chances of eventually having it are 50% higher if your immediate family members have had it. But luckily, there are ways to protect your heart. Let’s dive in.
Understanding Heart Disease and Heart Attacks
Although there are many conditions that affect your heart, the most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD is caused by a mixture of fats, cholesterol, and plaque clogging the vessels that supply your heart with blood.
This process is called atherosclerosis, and eventually, this plaque buildup can block enough blood flow to your heart that you begin to experience chest pain–called angina–or even have a heart attack.
During a heart attack, the affected part of your heart begins to die, which can lead to permanent damage or death. If you experience symptoms of a heart attack–chest pain, nausea, shortness of breath, dizziness, or unexplained sweating–call 911 immediately.
Lowering Your Risk for a Heart Attack
Luckily, there are steps you can take to drastically reduce your chance of having a heart attack. A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that people who had a higher risk of CAD due to family history were able to cut their risk by almost half by not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and eating healthy foods.
To protect your heart, it’s important to stay on top of monitoring and treating any chronic health conditions, like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
How Hoag is Different
A standard lipid panel is the most common blood test to measure different types of fats in your blood, including total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), and triglycerides. High levels of LDL cholesterol or triglycerides increase the risk of heart disease.
At Hoag Medical Network, we go above and beyond the standard lipid panel by offering comprehensive testing that includes lipoprotein A and apolipoprotein B tests.
A lipoprotein A test measures the amount of Lipoprotein(a), or Lp(a), which is a type of “bad” cholesterol particle. Because this particle is stickier than other LDL particles, it’s associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease. Lp(a) levels are largely determined by genetics, so this test is especially important for individuals with a family history of heart attack, stroke, or high cholesterol.
An apolipoprotein B test measures the amount of Apolipoprotein B (ApoB) in the blood. It’s a protein found in various types of bad cholesterol particles, and it plays a huge role in carrying bad cholesterol and fats around your body.
Because one bad cholesterol carries one apoB, measuring apoB levels provides information about the total number of bad cholesterol particles in the blood, which is a more comprehensive assessment of heart disease risk. This test is especially important if you have a family history of cardiovascular events and high cholesterol that doesn’t respond to healthy lifestyle changes or medications.
Hoag Hospitals: Leading the Way in Heart Health
At Hoag, we’re dedicated to comprehensive testing and providing the highest quality of individualized care to help you protect your heart. We routinely offer lipid panels, lipoprotein A tests, and apolipoprotein B tests to provide a complete assessment of your cardiovascular risk. By identifying and managing risk factors early, we can help you take charge of your heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
These tests are typically covered by insurance, but coverage may vary depending on conditions and reasons specified by your Doctor. Consult with your Doctor for more information or schedule a heart health screening at one of our many convenient locations right away. And to make managing your heart health even easier, join our membership program, Hoag Compass, to get outstanding personalized healthcare from wherever you are.
Your own Personal Care Coordinator will schedule all appointments for you, from specialists to labs and diagnostic imaging. With unlimited same-day or next-day virtual appointments–and extended hours– exceptional care is never far away. Download our mobile app to sign up for Compass today.