Experts Answer Your Questions About Heart Health

Heart disease is still the #1 killer of men and women in the United States.  Taking care of your heart should be a lifelong goal, as some heart problems can originate in childhood, and many aspects of heart healthcare involve habits, such as smoking and nutrition, that are easier to shape from youth.  While it’s no longer February, the CDC’s Heart Month resources are always worth a look. has also produced a list of resources for taking care of your heart that is well worth a look.  Gathering together the perspectives of 8 different experts in the field of heart health, their article “Expert Advice for a Healthy Heart” addresses a wide variety of factors that influence your cardiovascular system, including smoking, diet, stress, exercise, genetics, and gender differences.

The article takes on the question of risks that ought to be considered.  The modifiable ones, according to Dr. Dennis Goodman, are “smoking, hypertension, high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle (lack of exercise), and stress” (our home cholesterol test full lipid panel w/glucose can supply the information you need on high LDL and low LDL cholesterol, along with triglycerides, total cholesterol, and glucose*).

Personally I find stress to be one of the more confusing factors to understand in the context of heart health – what’s the best way to handle stress?  Modifying your smoking habit is pretty simple (although difficult) – either stop or do not.  But stress is pretty unavoidable.  4 different doctors offer their advice in the article, including exercise, meditation, hobbies, and simply “letting it out” or “powering down.”  Any of these sound good when you consider, as Dr. Kirk Laman says, that “something as simple as worrying has been shown to double your chances of having a heart attack.”

The doctors interview also cover the types of foods you can eat to keep your heart happy.  To figure out how to combine some of those foods into meals for the whole family, I personally recommend the NYTimes’ Recipes for Health Section, where Martha Rose Shulman somehow manages to create tons of delicious looking recipes, many containing comprehensive nutritional value information.

Take  a look at the EverydayHealth article for some useful, expert tips on keeping your heart healthy.

*  Although we at Home Health Testing stand by our product, I just wanted to add that this should not be construed as endorsement by

Cholesterol Test To Avoid Common Disorders

Hypercholesterolemia is basically a medical condition that is characterized by high levels of cholesterol in the blood. High cholesterol is not considered to be a disease. It is referred to as a metabolic derangement. Elevated levels of cholesterol are caused due to lipoprotein levels going awry in the blood. This is caused by genetic factors, diet and other medical conditions such as diabetes or hypothyroidism.

Treatment for high cholesterol involves eating a diet that is low in cholesterol and possibly taking medications. It may however cause other disorders, like coronary heart disease, which can result in surgery.

While there are no specific symptoms that you can see when someone has elevated levels of cholesterol, the condition can cause other diseases to occur. This is why it’s recommended that adults get a cholesterol test (full lipid panel) at least once every 5 years. Some of the conditions that can be fostered by high cholesterol are as follows:

Coronary heart disease – Cholesterol is significantly related to CHD or coronary heart disease. As the cholesterol levels increase, they block arteries and do not allow oxygen and nutrition to reach heart muscles that pump blood. As a result these muscles are unable to perform their function properly, resulting in chest pain, something that can ultimately lead to a myocardial infarction – aka, a heart attack – if the problem is not brought under control.

cholesterol testing helps you avoid other problems, like high cholesterol

Some complications of high blood pressure.

Stroke – As the blood supply to the brain reduces due to narrow arteries a stroke becomes more imminent. Sometimes a vessel may burst if the narrow passage cannot sustain the pressure with which the blood is pumped.

Hypertension – High blood pressure and high levels of cholesterol are linked. As the cholesterol plaque and calcium narrows the passage way, the heart works harder to pump blood to ensure that it reaches all parts of the body. This results in abnormally high blood pressure.

Peripheral vascular disease – This is a condition that refers to the blood vessels other than those related to the heart and the brain. As fatty deposits start to occur in the peripheral vessels, issues related to the limbs may start to occur as well.

Prevention of High Cholesterol

Prevention of high levels of cholesterol can significantly reduce the chances of getting the aforementioned diseases. And prevention of high cholesterol is best done by controlling the diet in healthy ways. A high fiber diet along with fresh vegetables and fruits is recommended by the American Heart Association.

In addition to diet control, giving up a sedentary lifestyle and adopting a more active one can help in cholesterol management to a large extent. Take up a sport or make sure that you walk for at least an hour every day. Decide on the specific activity levels that you need to maintain depending on your age after consultation with a physician.

If you have already been diagnosed with high cholesterol, you may want to check your levels regularly with a home cholesterol test. This easy to use test can be conducted from home so that you do not have to go all the way to the laboratory every time to get your cholesterol levels checked.

Article by Anne Hamilton

4 Of The BEST Foods For Your Heart

Heart disease statistics are extremely appalling and it might surprise many to know that more than 2500 Americans die from a heart disease each day. There are more than 250,000 people who die from a heart attack every year even before they can reach the hospital. Cholesterol is one of the leading conditions among many that ultimately lead to heart disease.

As in the case of many medical conditions, prevention is easier than a cure. So, if you know that you have a higher tendency towards heart disease or high cholesterol, make sure that you eat the right foods. Here are the four of the top foods that are extremely beneficial for the heart.


Oats contains an extremely high proportion of dietary fiber, selenium, manganese and magnesium. The relatively high proportion of soluble fiber beta-glucan helps in lowering LDL cholesterol. Other high fiber foods such as barley, prunes and psyllium seed husks are also known to reduce cholesterol levels and keep the heart healthy. The benefits of oatmeal in the context of a heart disease are so significant that in 1997 the FDA authorized this food as a functional food that can reduce the risk of heart disease. However, to qualify for this claim the oatmeal should contain at least 0.75 grams of beta glucan soluble fiber.

Another high fiber food that also contains lutein, potassium, and folate is spinach. The fiber that vegetables provide can reduce the risk of heart disease to a large extent. The Physicians’ Health Study, which examined fifteen thousand men for a period of 15 years, stated that those who ate two and a half servings of vegetables each day could reduce the risk of heart disease by as much as 25 percent.

cholesterol pleasing berries

Berries - delicious and great for your heart health!


Salmon is another great food that can help in keeping blood pressure and cholesterol under control. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and carotenoid astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant. If you are not too fond of salmon, you can choose from other fish types like tuna, mackerel, herring and sardines to get your daily dose of omega 3 fatty acids for your heart and cholesterol.

Olive oil

If you have to use oil, let it be olive oil. Olive oil lowers bad cholesterol since it has monounsaturated fats. It also reduces the probability of heart disease. A seven countries study showed that white men in Crete had a higher tendency of high cholesterol, not many died from a heart disease. This was traced back to their habit of consuming a diet that was almost always made in olive oil.

Nuts and Berries

Nuts that are full of omega 3 fatty acids like walnuts, almonds and macadamia nuts are also rich in monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Intake of nuts also increases the amount of fiber in the diet, thereby helping in lowering cholesterol.

Berries like blueberries, raspberries and strawberries have anti-inflammatory properties and therefore reduce the risk of a heart disease in many ways.

These top four foods can help you maintain good heart health and stay away from any kind of heart disease. Stick to these foods and other great healthy foods out there to be sure you pass a cholesterol test with flying colors whenever one is administered (which should be, if you are over 20, once every five years at least, and more if you have a heart condition or if your doctor finds it necessary).

Article by Anne Hamilton

Can Dogs Have High Cholesterol?

Those who own dogs will know that a large number of medical conditions that humans face are also experienced by dogs. And even more interesting is the fact that a large number of the medicines that are prescribed for dogs are also the same. One condition that is common between man and his best friend is high cholesterol.

High cholesterol in dogs, also known as Hyperlipidemia for both dogs and humans, can come about in a few ways.

Causes of High Cholesterol in Dogs

Man's best friend takes a break from his soccer game

Man's best friend takes a break from his soccer game

There are various causes of high cholesterol in dogs (and humans!). While some breeds are more susceptible to the condition, environmental issues like lifestyle, amount of exercise and diet can also cause cholesterol levels to rise in many cases. Medical conditions that cause a liver dysfunction can lead to a situation where the cholesterol levels rise. An overactive thyroid or adrenalin gland, high blood sugar, inflammation of the pancreas and constriction of the bile duct can cause the condition to occur.

Symptoms of high cholesterol in dogs

Irrespective of the cause of high cholesterol, the symptoms of the condition are the same. Seizures, abdominal pain, patches on skin, bumps that are yellow or red in color and nervous system dysfunctions can result from high cholesterol levels that are not being managed. A recent study published in the Journal of Small Animal Practice stated that dogs that chased their tail are among the most likely to be suffering from high cholesterol. When 15 tail-chasers and 15 dogs who did not chase their tails were studied and their cholesterol was checked, it was seen clearly that those with high cholesterol levels were the ones whose tails were going tick tock at a speed that no one could fathom.

Treatment of high cholesterol in dogs

If you can see any of the symptoms that are mentioned above, then you may need to take your pet to a veterinarian where your pet will be given a physical check up and where the vet will look into the details of your dog’s diet, lifestyle and overall health. A blood profile conducted after 12 hours of fasting gives the complete cholesterol picture. If the triglyceride levels are less than 150 mg/dL and the total cholesterol is also lower than 300 mg/dL, all is considered perfect. On the other hand if the numbers are higher, you will need to ensure proper treatment for your four legged friend.

A change in diet, a new exercise routine and some medicines will be prescribed. A low fat diet and adequate exercise in the morning and evenings is a must for such dogs. So be sure to watch your dog’s health as much as your own, as we share many of the same problems. As for cats, well…that’s subject for another blog altogether!

While these tests won’t help you analyze your dog’s cholesterol, they will help you make sure you are maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Please check out our home cholesterol test page for our selection of cholesterol tests.

Article by Anne Hamilton

Photo credit:  “Guard Dog” by Fran Hogan

3 Reasons to Take a Home Cholesterol Test

“Cholesterol” – the word these days brings to mind only negative associations. Yet cholesterol is needed to live, and a significant proportion of the cholesterol present in our bodies is manufactured by the liver in a perfectly functional fashion. Cholesterol is not always a scary bag of potato chips.

Cholesterol is a fatty substance, a certain amount of which is required for hormone production and support of other cells. However, excessive cholesterol in the system can cause various ailments that may surprise you if you have not had your cholesterol checked.
Being surprised by your cholesterol levels is unnecessary. You can order for a home cholesterol test easily over the Internet these days. But there are still many people who ignore the issue for various reasons.

Why should you take the Home Cholesterol Test?

1. High levels of total cholesterol, low levels of good cholesterol or high levels of bad cholesterol do not cause any immediate symptoms. There are no overt signals that the body sends out to indicate that there is trouble brewing inside. Much like high blood pressure, high cholesterol is a silent killer. It is therefore recommended if you are 20 or older that you check your cholesterol once every 5 years. Less frequent administration of a home cholesterol test is acceptable when you are younger.

2. The administration of a home cholesterol test does not take too much effort. All that you need to do is to purchase the test on the Internet and wait for the delivery of the parcel. A small prick of the finger is all that you need to do. All home cholesterol tests come with a detailed explanation of how to read the results so that you can ascertain your cholesterol levels for yourself.

3. It is said that the best cure is prevention, and this cannot be stressed enough in the case of a heart condition. High cholesterol levels indicate that cholesterol has built up on arterial walls, causing the gradual constriction and narrowing of the vessels. This condition is called atherosclerosis and can result in a heart attack sooner or later. There are also other diseases associated with the heart that can develop over time.

Who is at a Higher Risk?

While everyone above 20 should take the home cholesterol test once every 5 years, there are some people who may need to take this preventive measure more often. Those who have a sedentary lifestyle with almost no exercise, a poor diet that involves significant portions of junk food and saturated fats, smoking, and/or a family history of high cholesterol should get their cholesterol checked more often.

The good news is that controlling cholesterol levels and bringing them down to manageable levels is something that is possible. You may need to visit a nutritionist to have a customized low fat diet designed for you. Proper medication may also be required for those who have levels that are higher.

Article by Anne Hamilton

From Tricycles to Triglycerides: Kids With High Cholesterol

Childhood obesity is on everybody’s radar these days.  It is a pet issue of Michelle Obama’s, for example, and the subject of great concern for public health officials.  How did our lifestyles become so destructive to our children?  One alarming fact from Wikipedia – a study has shown that “Eating at fast food restaurants is very common among young people with 75% of 7th to 12th grade students consuming fast food in a given week.”  Wow!

More young people today have high cholesterol than ever.  Photo by Vojko Kalan

More young people today have high cholesterol than ever.

According to NPR, 20 percent of teenagers have high cholesterol.  The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) doesn’t even recommend universal cholesterol testing for people under 20!

Though the scope of the problem is large, that doesn’t mean it can’t be controlled.  First, it’s important that the whole family knows their cholesterol, including kids.  Dr. Julie Brothers in the NPR link has a few suggestions for teens with high cholesterol.  Diet is very important – more fruits and veggies, less sugar, and more exercise.  The good news is that diet and exercise are frequently all it takes to reduce cholesterol levels in kids – Dr. Brothers rarely puts children on statin medication.

Be sure to monitor your diet and stay active.  And keep an eye on that cholesterol!

(You can buy one of two types of at home cholesterol test by visiting our Home Cholesterol Test page.)

Photo credit: “Talk” by Vojko Kalan