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Top 10 Ways to Avoid a Heart Attack

        Health | Heart

Heart Tip 3: Undergo Preventive Screenings

Some routine blood work can tell you how your cholesterol is doing.
Some routine blood work can tell you how your cholesterol is doing.
Trevor Lush/Getty Images

Here's a novel idea -- preventive medicine. In other words, trying to stop a problem before it becomes one. Preventive health screenings can give you and your doctor a lot of information about how at risk you are for cardiovascular disease. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that you start getting your blood pressure checked every two years starting at the age of 18. It also recommends having your cholesterol levels checked at age 18, and from then on, as often as your doctor thinks is necessary.

The great thing about preventive screenings is that they don't take very long and are basically painless. Blood pressure checks involve a stethoscope and an aneroid monitor. You may not recognize the aneroid by its fancy name, but it's the arm cuff system that you've likely seen before. Your cholesterol levels are determined through a simple blood test, so you'll need to get your arm tapped for the red stuff. Aside from these standard checks, there are ultrasound tests that can detect arterial blockage, and you'll also likely have your body mass index (BMI) calculated so you'll know exactly how out of shape you are. Your BMI is your weight divided by the square of your height, and multiplied by 732.You may not want to hear some of these numbers, but getting information early on about your risk level can help you avoid a heart attack down the road.