Staying Heart-Healthy with Genetic Screening
February 01, 2023
February is American Heart Month. While cardiac care is crucial every time of year – especially as heart disease stays the number one killer in the United States – American Heart Month serves as a great reminder to stay on top of your heart health. We spoke with Malina Ruiz, a cardiology nurse practitioner at Renown Health, on three key ways to embrace heart-healthy living and how genetic screening can help inform you of certain genetic risks that can play a role on the cardiac life stage.
1. Invest in a heart-healthy diet.Eating a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats (including monounsaturated fats such as avocados and polyunsaturated fats such as sunflower oil) is a key defense in protecting your cardiac health, according to Malina. While you are filling your plate with these nutritious foods, remember to keep an eye on your saturated and trans-fat intake, and try limiting foods that are high in those fats. “No matter what age we are, maintaining a heart-healthy diet will always be important,” said Malina.
Need help finding cardiac-friendly meals? The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute makes it easy with heart-healthy recipes and tips from experts.
2. Do an exercise audit.
“Keeping an active lifestyle during our younger years is one of the most important factors that affect heart health in future years,” said Malina. Maintaining a regular exercise regimen that allows you to raise your heart rate and break a sweat can help prevent future cardiac events.
A good rule of thumb is to aim for 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise, which averages out to 30 minutes a day on 5 days out of the week.
It’s never too late to start a regular exercise routine! Exercise doesn’t have to be something you dread – leverage American Heart Month to find activities that you enjoy. The American Heart Association can help you discover new ways to move your body. At the end of the day, as Malina emphasizes, “any movement is better than nothing!”
3. Don't skip those check-ups.
Regular preventative visits with your primary care provider can help you identify possible risk factors for heart conditions before they start actively affecting your life. “Check-ups become even more important as we age, along with being aware of the signs and symptoms of heart disease, heart attack and stroke,” added Malina.
There’s no time better than the present – call our expert scheduling team today at 775-982-5000 to request a preventative check-up with your primary care provider.
One of the conditions screened is a disorder called familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), an inherited condition that contributes to high blood cholesterol levels. According to Malina, if FH is left undetected, it can lead to cardiovascular diseases, including heart attack and stroke. Therefore, having access to genetic testing can help give you the tools you need to be proactive in your cardiac health before conditions like FH affect your heart.
Making an appointment is easy! Log into MyChart to schedule your no-cost genetic testing.
“As a Renown provider, we are connected with promoting genetic screening to our patients,” said Malina. “I feel that this free opportunity should be promoted to all our patients as a form of prevention for them as well their families.”
As New Year’s resolutions start to be left by the wayside, leveraging American Heart Month is a great way to get back on track and re-evaluate your cardiac health. Focusing on sustainable steps, like the three listed above, can help you get heart-healthy and stay heart-healthy.