One of the key barriers to having a heart health check has always been the need to skip food for at least 6 hours before the blood test.
New evidence suggests that this is not necessary any more so you can now have your cholesterol checked any time of day and you don't have to skip breakfast either!
Heart and vascular disease is a slow and silent killer, eventually claiming the lives of over half of our population but much of this could be prevented if only people were aware of the risk.
it's everyone's problem: Heart disease has lots of risk factors associated with it, including smoking, lack of exercise, obesity, diet, cholesterol and blood pressure but even people who seem fit and healthy can still develop blocked arteries. We all need to take this seriously as prevention is often easier than you think.
There is good evidence that a healthy diet reduces heart diease even if the cholesterol level is not changed too. Check out our 'drug free living' section for healthy lifestyle advice.
If diet and exercise are not enough for you, or if you are at higher risk there are a range of medications which can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease. Your doctor will discuss these with you.
So, what do YOU need to do to get checked?
Simply make an appointment with one of our friendly nurses. This check is recommended for everyone over 40 years of age and for Maori, Pacific people and those with any family history of heart disease from age 35. They will:
1. Take your blood pressure.
2. Check your height and weight if it is not on our records.
3. Ask you about yourself and any family members who may have had heart disease or diabetes.
4. Take blood for a cholesterol and diabetes check.
All for the price of a nurse consulation fee.
The blood tests take a couple of days to come back, after which you can phone our nurse to find out the results, which will usually give you an idea of how likely you are to have a heart attack in the next 5 years.
If your cholesterol is very high, we may need to ask you to have a fasting test, but this is quite unusual.
Don't fancy seeing us? try http://www.knowyournumbers.co.nz/ to get an estimate of what your risk is likely to be. Bear in mind that this tool can occasionally give a slightly lower risk than applies to you, so it is still important to have a proper check with us.
Pigeon's breakfast: Sam Catch