What to Know About Heart Health (and How We Can Help)
February 14, 2023
Brittany Brooks, MD
You’ve heard it before: Your heart is extremely important. When your heart is working well, it’s pumping nutrient-rich blood throughout your entire body. When your heart is struggling to do its job, the rest of your body may not be getting what it needs to stay healthy and strong.
Heart health can be a scary topic, but our doctors are here to support you. Virtual primary care is a great way to assess and take steps to reduce your risk of heart disease. It starts with a simple visit via phone or video. In the meantime, here is some more information to help you understand heart health.
What is heart disease?
When it comes to health risks for your heart, you’ve probably heard of heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. It is an umbrella term for many diseases, with the most common being coronary artery disease (CAD). There are several factors that can increase your risk for heart disease. They include:
High Blood Pressure
Increased blood pressure (also known as hypertension) puts extra stress on your heart and the blood vessels, which can decrease the amount of blood flowing back to your heart. Over time, this can lead to heart disease.
The good news is that you can often lower your blood pressure through lifestyle changes and, when appropriate, medication. Our doctors are here to help you assess, lower and manage your blood pressure.
Diabetes is when your body cannot process sugars properly, which can cause your blood sugars to be elevated. This can damage your blood vessels over time and put you at a greater risk of high blood pressure and high LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and heart disease.
1 in 3 Americans have pre-diabetes, which is when your blood sugar is elevated but not yet high enough to be considered diabetes. A quick quiz can tell you if you are at risk. Pre-diabetes can often be reversed, and our doctors are here to help!
To check your blood sugar levels, your virtual primary care doctor can order blood testing from a lab in your insurance network. Based on your results, your doctor can help you develop a care plan to prevent or manage diabetes. This care plan may include lifestyle changes (such as diet and exercise) and prescriptions* when appropriate.
Cholesterol is important for your body to function, but sometimes you can have too much of one kind of cholesterol. When you have too much “bad” cholesterol (LDL) in relation to your good cholesterol (HDL), you are at an increased risk for heart disease.
To check your cholesterol levels, your virtual primary care doctor can order blood testing from a lab in your insurance network. If your LDL cholesterol is high, your doctor can help you create a care plan to lower it. This care plan may include lifestyle changes (such as diet and exercise) and prescriptions* when appropriate.
How can a doctor help me?
Heart disease and the conditions described above often go undetected – and that’s because you may not experience any physical symptoms. That’s why it’s important to see a doctor regularly and complete any recommended labs and screenings.
Not sure where to start? We’re here to help. Your first step is talking to a primary care doctor. Your First Stop Health doctor can:
Order labs and screenings to assess your risks
If needed, recommend lifestyle changes (such as diet, exercise and quitting smoking) to lower your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol
Help you manage diabetes, cholesterol and high blood pressure with medication
Provide in-network specialist referrals when needed
If your employer or school offers you First Stop Health Virtual Primary Care, our doctors are here to provide care you will love. During your first visit, your doctor will get to know your personal and family health history, ask questions, listen to your concerns, and make recommendations for your current and future health.