Give Your Heart Some Love

Feb. newsletter heart smallFebruary is full of hearts. Heart-shaped candies and cards, notes from loved ones signed with hearts, red and pink hearts in advertisements — they’re everywhere you look! And with mobile technology on the rise, you’re even getting hearts in your inbox! Love is in the air, and Valentine’s Day certainly puts the heart at the top of everyone’s mind, but are you thinking about the most important heart of all?

February is American Heart Month, and it’s time to start thinking about the heart. No, we’re not talking about the cutesy Valentine’s Day hearts you’re seeing everywhere these days. We’re talking about the heart beating inside you. The heart that’s keeping you alive. The heart that we’re guessing you haven’t given much thought about this month, or ever, for that matter.

So, why should you be thinking about your heart? Because heart disease is the leading cause of death in Americans, killing more people than every form of cancer combined. One in every four deaths in America is caused by heart disease, and if you aren’t concerned by this number, you should be.

There’s a reason heart disease is so prevalent in America. The most common cause of cardiovascular and heart disease is a buildup of fatty plaques in the arteries. And this plaque buildup is in turn commonly caused by certain lifestyle choices like:

  • having an unhealthy diet
  • lack of exercise
  • smoking
  • being overweight

It comes as no surprise that with an obesity epidemic overtaking the country, heart disease is right around the corner for millions of Americans. And the fact of the matter is, most people aren’t living a perfectly healthy lifestyle. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese. That’s more than 78 million Americans who are at risk for having heart disease just because of their weight. Whether it’s a desk job, overly large portion sizes and unhealthy dietary choices, or maybe those hours spent watching TV every night, it is clear that something needs to change for a lot of people. But the question is, are you one of them?

How healthy is your heart? Do you really know the answer to that question? If not, you could be one of the millions of Americans with heart disease or at risk for developing heart disease. No one ever thinks it will be them, but the numbers don’t lie. There’s a possibility that you could be the one out of four who dies from heart disease unless you take the actions necessary to prevent it. The good thing about these odds, however, is that you can make the choice to actively change them. And the first step to taking control of your health is to get tested.

At Any Lab Test Now, there are lots of ways you can get started taking care of your heart! It is incredibly important to get tested if you think you could be at risk for heart disease. Once you have your results, you can begin making a plan for what you need to do to stay healthy.

The Heart Health Panel is a great option for those looking for a clear picture of their overall heart health. This panel can determine your risk for heart or cardiovascular disease by monitoring any electrolyte imbalances, and current cholesterol status in your body. It consists of four tests:

  1. VAP® (Vertical Auto Profile)
  2. Chemistry Panel (16 essential tests)
  3. C-Reactive Protein
  4. Homocysteine

If you’re interested in determining the health of your heart, you may also want to consider the C-Reactive Protein (High Sensitivity, Cardiac) test. It is a blood test that can assess your risk for cardiovascular disease, as well as your risk of having a heart problem or heart attack.

So, take some time off from thinking about all those Valentine’s Day hearts and give some love to the heart that matters most — the one inside you! It’s time to take control of your heart health and get tested so you can live your best life, for many more Februarys to come.

Have heartburn? You might want to check for Helicobacter Pylori (H. Pylori)

Helicobacter pylori. You’ve probably never heard of this crazy-sounding word, but it may be closer to you than you think! Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a potentially dangerous bacteria that thrives in the acidic environment of the stomach. It can cause painful symptoms, including stomach pain, nausea and even heartburn. Yes, that’s right. These common symptoms could actually be caused by an H. pylori infection in your stomach! So if you have frequent heartburn, it’s time to put down the antacids and find out what’s really going on!

What Is Heartburn?
Heartburn is a burning pain in your chest, right behind the breastbone. Typically, the pain is worse when lying down or bending over. Occasional heartburn is incredibly common and can usually be reduced through lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications. However, if you are experiencing frequent heartburn, especially if it interferes with your daily routine, this may be a symptom of something more serious. If you have any of these symptoms, you may want to talk to your doctor about other possible causes of your heartburn, including the H. pylori bacteria:

  • Your heartburn occurs more than twice a week
  • Your symptoms continue despite use of over-the-counter heartburn medications
  • You have difficulty swallowing
  • You have frequent nausea or vomiting
  • You have lost weight because of poor appetite or difficulty eating

Could You Have A Helicobacter Pylori Infection?
Helicobacter pylori is a type of bacteria that can infect your stomach and is a common cause of peptic ulcers. In fact, while many try to blame their ulcers on stress or spicy food, 80 percent of stomach ulcers and 90 percent of duodenal ulcers (in the upper end of the small intestines) are caused by H. pylori. The H. pylori bacteria may also cause gastritis and even gastric (stomach) cancer.

Most people with an H. pylori infection never have any signs or symptoms, so they don’t realize they have it. However, if you develop signs of a peptic ulcer, you may have the infection. When symptoms do occur they can include:

  • Pain (an ache or burning) in your abdomen, just under the ribs
  • Abdominal pain that becomes worse when your stomach is empty
  • Loss of appetite and unintentional weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Frequent burping, heartburn and indigestion
  • Bloating

Should I Get Tested For H. Pylori?
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, you should consider getting tested for H. pylori. Any Lab Test Now offers several testing options if you suspect you may have an H. pylori infection or are suffering from chronic heartburn and want to know why:

  • The H. Pylori Stool Test can be used to detect the presence of the H. pylori antigen in stool specimens.
  • There is also a Urea Breath Test (UBT), which can be used to indirectly detect the presence of H. pylori urease by measuring carbon dioxide in the patient’s breath.

Both the Stool Test and Urea Breath Test are recommended by both the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) and the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) as non-invasive tests for diagnosis and confirmation of eradication.

If you are suffering from chronic heartburn, you need to talk to your doctor or gastroenterologist before it’s too late. H. pylori is a highly destructive bacterium that can lead to ulcers, gastritis and even stomach cancer. Talk to the experts at Any Lab Test Now to find out how you can get tested for H. pylori and end your heartburn suffering, once and for all!

*Some locations are unable to offer the H. pylori blood test, so please check with your local Any Lab Test Now to learn about your testing options.

Safety in the Ring! Why do Combative Sports Fighters Have to Be Tested Every Year?

When mixed martial arts fighters discuss what they do to prepare for a match, the focus tends to be on the intense training they undergo to make sure they are totally ready to take a pounding and keep on swinging, ultimately to defeat an equally strong and prepared opponent. With such an exciting and dangerous sport, the last thing a fan would think about is whether each fighter is complying with the *shudder* regulations. But it’s because this sport is so exciting and dangerous that regulations need to be a big part of the conversation.

Most state athletic commissions require testing for combative sports fighters to compete. They require drug testing, as well as additional blood tests for diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C. This is to protect the fighters, as well as to keep competition fair. There have been cases in unregulated fighting environments of horrible injuries and unfair competition due to the lack of rule enforcement. These are potentially life-ruining situations. If a fighter competes while infected with a bloodborne illness, the results can truly be tragic. As cumbersome as they may be, regulations are in place to prevent serious injury and death.

For fighter testing, the bloodborne infection aspect may not make sense at first blush. But with sports like MMA, which tend to get bloody, there is a real risk of passing on an infection. However, it’s not just a hazard to an opponent. The body of someone affected by a disease that attacks the immune system is generally weaker and easier to exhaust than that of a healthy person, so having a disease like HIV is a serious handicap in a fight.

Fighters have to be tested every year in order to comply with most state requirements. This is to monitor fighters’ health and keep them from passing on diseases they might not know they have. But if a fighter’s manager or agent has concerns, officials recommend getting the tests as often as necessary. The Fighter Panel at Any Lab Test Now is an easy tool to get all of your state-mandated testing done, with a fast turnaround. So protect yourself and your opponents, and be sure to get tested!

February is American Heart Month. Take Care of Yours.

Did you know that approximately 600,000 Americans die from heart disease every year? Reported to be the leading killer in both men and women, heart disease currently accounts for 1 in every 4 deaths. While it is a major threat to the health of many, there are actions you can take to prevent it from becoming a threat to yours.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines the following steps to take in planning for prevention of cardiovascular disease:

  • Receive an annual checkup to get tested for high blood pressure and diabetes; two common conditions linked to the disease.

  • Take part in daily physical activity to help you manage your weight and keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check.

  • Maintain a healthy diet by avoiding foods high in sodium, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. By having a well-balanced meal plan consisting of protein, fruits and vegetables, you can lower your risk of developing high blood pressure and becoming overweight; an additional risk factor associated with heart disease.

  • Limit your alcohol use to avoid an increase in your blood pressure. The CDC recommends that men should have no more than two drinks per day and women have no more than one.

  • If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar levels closely and talk with your healthcare team about treatment options.

Visit your local Any Lab Test Now® to see if you may be at risk of heart disease. Receive a Heart Health Panel to understand your overall heart health or choose a test specific to your personal risk factors such as one of our Cholesterol Tests or Diabetes Lab Tests. Call us today to learn more about how we can help you Take Control of Your Health®.

Ladies, Say ‘I Love You’ This Valentine’s Day in a New Kind of Way

With Valentine’s Day soon approaching, many women are planning out the perfect way to show that special person in their life just how much they appreciate them. Ladies, instead of choosing to treat your other half to the always popular, romantic, candlelight dinner, show your love to them this year in a way that can last a lifetime…by taking care of your heart.

Did you know that heart disease is the No.1 killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year? Yet, what’s even more startling is that it is 80% preventable. By receiving a regular heart health screening, learning your risks, and managing those risks accordingly, you can avoid this deadly disease that impacts the lives of so many every day.

Go Red for Women is a nation-wide campaign created by the American Heart Association, designed to bring attention to the risk of heart disease in women, encourage women to receive heart health screenings and “lead the charge to end this deadly foe once and for all.” As an effort to raise awareness in the fight against this disease, all supporters of the Go Red for Women movement are asked to wear red on National Wear Red Day.

To show our support, participating Any Lab Test Now® locations will be decked out in red decorations throughout their store on National Wear Red Day, this Friday, February 6th. On this day only, the participating stores will also be offering 50% off various heart health lab tests including a Lipid Panel, VAP® Test, and PLAC® Test.

For this year’s Valentine’s Day, show the person you love just how much you care for them by caring for your heart. Schedule your heart health lab testing at your local Any Lab Test Now® now and remember to wear red on Friday, February 6th. Share photos of you in your red via Twitter @ALTNCorp and check our Facebook page after the event to see how all of our Any Lab Test Now® locations showed their support in the stores.

Women, Don’t Let Your Holiday Season Turn into a Stressful Season

Whether it’s preparing a platter full of baked goodies for the end-of-the-year party at your child’s school or cleaning and decorating the living room in time for your Christmas family dinner, the never-ending list of holiday “to-dos” can easily become a hassle instead of a pleasure. It is important during the hustle and bustle that women especially, sit back and avoid the stress that is so often associated with this time of year. It could do more for your health than you may think.

In a study performed by Dr. Wei Jiang of Duke University’s School of Medicine, researchers noticed that stress, including mental stress, may be more taxing on women’s hearts than compared to men’s. Jiang’s team analyzed the data of more than 300 Americans that encountered a series of stressful tasks. Researchers found that when stress levels rose, women were far more likely to have an ischemic episode than men. Ischemia is known as a dramatic reduction in blood flow to the heart and a major contributor to mortality from heart disease. The study concluded that 57% of women experienced ischemia compared to 41% of men.

So now the question is how can one destress? According to this list published by Harvard Medical School, some ways to destress include focusing on self nurturing via eating healthy food, reading amusing books, or committing to slow down your schedule just once a week.

At Any Lab Test Now®, we encourage all of our readers to manage their stress in a healthy manner, especially during the busy season of the holidays. To evaluate your overall heart health, schedule to have a Heart Health Panel done at an Any Lab Test Now ® near you. This panel will provide you with a clear picture of how well you’re heart is working and if you may be at risk for heart disease.

Cholesterol 101

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is important for your body to have to function properly. The problem with it is if there is too much cholesterol in the blood, the buildup in arteries can form blockages which can lead to dangerous heart problems.

Types of Cholesterol

High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is considered “good” cholesterol and what your body needs. You want a high percentage of HDL in your test results. Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) is “bad” cholesterol and low test results are ideal. The CDC reports that 71 million American adults have high LDL levels.

Preventing High Cholesterol

To reduce or maintain cholesterol levels:

Get Tested
Having high cholesterol doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have symptoms to let you know, which is why it’s so important to get tested. Be proactive and get your cholesterol checked. The American Heart Association recommends all adults age 20 or older to get their cholesterol checked every 4-6 years.

September is Cholesterol Education Month. We would encourage you to continue learning about cholesterol by talking with your MA at your local ANY LAB TEST NOW® or by reading more here.

Men, Learn How To Manage Your Health

As mentioned prior, men’s heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. More than half of deaths in heart disease in 2009 consisted of male victims. Detailed information and other statistics about men’s heart health are provided on the CDC’s website.

In addition to that, Men’s Health Magazine compiled an extremely intriguing perspective on the various and multiple reasons as to why American men die young. Everything from prostate cancer, to medical errors, to infectious disease, to diabetes and more is addressed.

Bringing up serious health issues in men is for a reason. In order to prevent these diseases controlling the lives of men, it’s important to be proactive in managing your health and to be aware. By completing routine tests, routine physicians visits and truly maintaining your health, you are taking a step towards taking control of your health. As the Affordable Care Act continues to evolve, it’s important to know how to move forward with taking control of your health. For example, knowing costs of treatments, lab tests and/or procedures upfront can help you make your healthcare as affordable as possible.

To learn more visit www.anylabtestnow.com/aca.

Stroke Awareness – It’s Preventable

May is an important month! We talked about the importance of allergy testing last week, and this week we want to shine a light on stroke awareness. May was designated by President George H. W. Bush as National Stroke Awareness Month. The National Stroke Association works hard each year to bring awareness of strokes in hopes to conquer them. Check out their resource center for programs, activities and tons of valuable information.

A stroke happens after a blood clot blocks an artery or when a blood vessel breaks. This causes interrupted brain flow to the brain. Brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs when this happens.

“When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain are lost. These abilities include speech, movement and memory.  How a stroke patient is affected depends on where the stroke occurs in the brain and how much the brain is damaged.” -Read more from the National Stroke Association here.

Did you know that up to 80% of strokes are preventable?

In order to prevent a stroke, check out our PLAC® Test. It’s a test that measures an increased enzyme caused by inflamed arteries. It can help your physician assess your risk and susceptibility for heart attacks and stroke. Support National Stroke Awareness Month by getting informed, spreading the word and getting tested!

The Number One Killer of Women Should Be Stopped

WHAT
Heart disease is the number one killer of women; yes, over any type of cancer. It kills approximately one woman, every minute. The prevention and treatment of this disease rests on awareness. For you to know how to beat and prevent heart disease, you must be aware of it and know what’s going on in your body.

HOW
Symptoms can range from chest pain to nausea to shortness of breath and more. A problem is that these symptoms are not uncommon; therefore many women who suffer from the disease don’t know they have it. According to the American Heart Association, over half of women who die from the disease experience little to no symptoms. Women sometimes look to more common issues like the flu or their age. That’s why it’s so important to Take Control of Your Health® and get tested.

WHY
Size and pumping abilities of the heart differ by gender, but there is no definite explanation as to why men and women are affected differently by heart disease. Shining a spotlight specifically on women’s heart health will raise awareness and encourage women to get their heart tested because they might not have thought about their heart’s health before.

Friday, Feb. 7, was National Wear Red Day by Go Red for Women. Check out our Facebook to see all that was going on!

WHEN
Ladies, now is the time to get tested to check your heart health. The Heart Health Panel gives you an idea of your overall heart health. The VAP test includes basic cholesterol tests and identifies abnormalities. The PLAC test measures your arteries and will assess your risk for heart attacks and/or strokes. These are the perfect tests to help you become aware of exactly what’s going on with your heart health. Get tested today and spread the word!