Know Your Risk for Heart Disease
The American Heart Association estimates that more than 1 in 3 adults in the U.S will suffer from heart disease in their lifetime. Heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease, is a condition that affects blood flow to the heart. Decreased blood flow can lead to arrhythmia, heart attack, or heart failure.
To learn more about heart disease and prevention, we sat down with Dr. Nitin Bhatnagar, a cardiologist in Greenfield, Massachusetts. Dr. Bhatnagar received his medical degree from University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine and is now a holistic provider who marries eastern and western methods of medicine. You can read more about Dr. Bhatnagar methodologies on his blog, Wheels of the Mind.
What is heart disease?
Heart disease is a general term used to describe conditions affecting your heart and blood vessels. Heart disease is caused by plaque buildup in your arteries, which lowers blood flow and increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. There are many risk factors for heart disease, but there are also several simple tests you can take at home to determine if you may be at risk. If you have any reason to believe that you could be at risk for heart disease, it’s important to get checked out by a doctor immediately.
How can I test myself for heart disease?
There are two main ways to get tested for heart disease. You can go to your doctor for lab tests, or you can perform an at-home test. At-home tests are generally more cost-effective, with up-front pricing. These tests, like the Baseline Heart Health Test from Because Market, provide important information on cholesterol levels, overall inflammation, and incorporate prediabetes/diabetes screen to test for other markers that can help keep you from developing serious issues in future years. Starting at $79, this at-home test can save you a lengthy trip to the doctor’s office or lab—and save you from costly unexpected lab bills.
How do at-home tests work?
The quickest way to determine your risk of heart disease is to take an at-home test. By filling out a simple questionnaire and collecting a finger-prick blood sample, you can obtain a thorough assessment that will give you insight into your heart’s health. At-home tests from Because Market are powered by ImAware™, with lab samples assessed in CLIA-Certified Labs in the United States. Results are physician-reviewed once the sample has been processed, and results are conveniently and securely delivered to you within 7 days. Plus, if any concerns arise, a doctor will directly call you to discuss your results.
"I'm an advocate for early testing, but you have also to be careful because it can be alarmist,” says Dr. Bhatnagar. “Some people may get fixated on certain metrics, but you need to look at the holistic picture to understand what's happening with your body. One has to be careful about not taking all of the data to extremes because the pendulum swings too far. Trust your body's wisdom. Your body is constantly giving you feedback. Listen and become in touch and in tune with these signals."
What are the benefits of at-home heart health tests?
As mentioned above, at-home heart health tests will save you time and money. After ordering an at-home test from Because Market, it will be delivered right to your door. From there, you can perform the test from the convenience of your home, then drop it back in the mail. Your physician-reviewed results will be delivered back to you within a week. Fast, affordable, and convenient.
Can I share my results with a doctor?
Absolutely! You can share your results with your personal physician, and you can discuss any issues or concerns that arise from your test results.
Dr. Bhatnagar agrees: "These tests are great, but it's also important that you get those results to a clinician. Share these results with your doctor so they can help you interpret what course of action to take."
It’s important to note that at-home tests are designed to determine your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, which often begins years before any symptoms or signs of poor heart health. So, while they’re great ways to get a snapshot of your current heart health and can help point you in the right direction when it comes to making positive lifestyle changes, they’re not substitutes for a doctor visit.
After you take one of these home tests, make an appointment with your doctor. He or she will be able to diagnose heart problems if needed and monitor your heart health over time. If after taking a heart health test you notice changes in mood, sleep habits, fatigue level, vision problems or shortness of breath—even if you also have other risk factors—be sure to see your doctor immediately.
Additional tips for preventing heart disease
To help prevent heart disease, Dr. Bhatnagar shared the following tips:
Find a trusted medical provider. Having a trusted physician or holistic healthcare professional who knows your medical history is so important. They can help monitor symptoms, develop lifestyle plans, and be a go-to source for sharing questions and concerns.
Seek balance. Whether it comes to food, hydration, or exercise, having it all in moderation can be good for preventative health. Avoid excessive sugars and salt will help manage diabetes, cholesterol, and blood pressure. Reducing those will prevent heart disease and stroke.
Trust your body's wisdom. Practice mindfulness to become more in touch and in tune with your body and its needs. Respond when your body tells you it's tired, thirsty, hungry, or in pain. Over time, you will learn to hear not only the regular reminders from your body, but you’ll also be able to tune in when your body is alerting you that something more serious is happening.
Use technology to your benefit. Smart watches are a great way to help monitor your health day-to-day. These devices can now measure things like atrial fibrillation (a-fib). Dr. Bhatnagar says he gets a lot of consults with records from the Apple watch. People can download their health data and bring it to their doctor.
Ready to take an at-home heart health test?
Shop for these tests and others at: https://becausemarket.com/collections/at-home-testing