Learn Your Risk
Unlike some diseases, cardiovascular disease and peripheral vascular disease can largely be predicted and prevented.
Over 79 million Americans have heart disease and may not know it. Heart disease includes numerous problems including atherosclerosis (buildup of plaque in the arteries), heart attacks, stroke, heart failure, arrhythmia, and heart valve problems.
Peripheral vascular disease affects nearly 12 million Americans. It’s caused by the narrowing of vessels that carry blood to the legs, arms, stomach or kidneys. If undetected, it could result in heart attack or loss of a limb.
Free Online Risk Screenings
In just seven minutes you can find out if you’re at risk for cardiovascular disease or peripheral vascular disease. The Heart Aware and Vascular Aware Online Risk Screenings consist of a few simple questions. Once completed, you’ll be provided with a report of your risk factors and recommendations for improving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
If the Heart Aware or Vascular Aware screenings determine that you are at risk, you can trust the highly skilled team at UNC REX Healthcare to help you through the next steps of our screening program. You’ll be offered a free, confidential, follow-up screening and consultation as well as recommendations for further follow-up.
If you choose to attend the follow-up screening at REX Hospital’s Early Detection Center, you can expect to:
- Meet with a clinician
- Have your blood pressure checked for hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Have your height, weight and waist measured to determine your Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Have blood drawn for a fasting blood cholesterol and glucose test
Find out your risk - take the Heart Aware Online Risk Screening or the Vascular Aware Online Risk Screening now.
Monitor Your Health
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
Hypertension (HTN) or high blood pressure, sometimes called arterial hypertension, is a chronic medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is elevated. This requires the heart to work harder than normal to circulate blood through the blood vessels. Blood pressure is summarized by two measurements, systolic and diastolic, which depend on if the heart muscle is contracting (systole) or relaxed between beats (diastole) and equate to a maximum and minimum pressure, respectively. Normal blood pressure at rest is within the range of 100-140 mm Hg systolic (top reading) and 60-90 mm Hg diastolic (bottom reading). High blood pressure is said to be present if it is persistently at or above 140/90 mm Hg.
Hypertension is classified as either primary (essential) hypertension or secondary hypertension; about 90–95% of cases are categorized as “primary hypertension”, which means high blood pressure with no obvious underlying medical cause. The remaining 5–10% of cases (secondary hypertension) are caused by other conditions that affect the kidneys, arteries, heart or endocrine system.
Hypertension is a major risk factor for stroke, myocardial infarction (heart attacks), heart failure, aneurysms of the arteries (e.g., aortic aneurysm) and peripheral arterial disease and is a cause of chronic kidney disease. Even moderate elevation of arterial blood pressure is associated with a shortened life expectancy. Dietary and lifestyle changes can improve blood pressure control and decrease the risk of associated health complications, although drug treatment is often necessary in people for whom lifestyle changes prove ineffective or insufficient.
Hypercholesterolemia (also spelled hypercholesterolaemia) is the presence of high levels of cholesterol in the blood. It is a form of “hyperlipidemia” (elevated levels of lipids in the blood) and “hyperlipoproteinemia” (elevated levels of lipoproteins in the blood).
Cholesterol is a sterol, a sort of fat. It is one of three major classes of lipids that all animal cells use to construct their membranes and is thus manufactured by all animal cells. Plant cells do not manufacture cholesterol. It is also the precursor of the steroid hormones, bile acids and vitamin D.
Because cholesterol is insoluble in water, it is transported in the blood plasma within protein particles (lipoproteins). Lipoproteins are classified by their density: very low density lipoprotein (VLDL), intermediate density lipoprotein (IDL), low density lipoprotein (LDL) and high density lipoprotein (HDL). All of the lipoproteins carry cholesterol, but elevated levels of the lipoproteins other than HDL (termed non-HDL cholesterol), particularly LDL cholesterol, are associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. In contrast, higher levels of HDL cholesterol are protective. Elevated levels of non-HDL cholesterol and LDL in the blood may be a consequence of diet, obesity, inherited (genetic) diseases (such as LDL receptor mutations in familial hypercholesterolemia), or the presence of other diseases such as diabetes and an underactive thyroid.
Reducing dietary fat is recommended to reduce total blood cholesterol and LDL in adults. In people with very high cholesterol (e.g., familial hypercholesterolemia), diet is often insufficient in achieving the desired lowering of LDL, and lipid-lowering medications that reduce cholesterol production or absorption are usually required. If necessary, other treatments, including LDL apheresis or even surgery (for particularly severe subtypes of familial hypercholesterolemia) are performed.