Your heart health is one of the most important components of overall health. Checking your own heart health at home provides confidence in your own health, and it can help you reduce costs at other healthcare professionals. However, it’s important to know just how to check heart health at home adequately so you don’t make any mistakes.
Keep reading to find out how to know if your heart is healthy at home.
5 Tips to learn how to check your heart health at home
There are many sides to checking your heart health, and while some of them can be performed at home, others simply can’t. So while you may be able to get helpful lab tests delivered to your door, you may not be able to test for more acute conditions. For example, you won’t be able to check for a heart blockage without angiography without seeking help from a medical professional first.
However, these simple steps allow you to assess your heart health baseline so you know just what to discuss with your healthcare provider during your annual checkups.
Let’s discuss some simple steps that can help you determine your heart health at home.
1. Learn how to check your own heart rate
Learning how to check your own vital signs at home can seem intimidating at first, but it can make a huge difference if you want to check for heart disease at home.
Taking your own heart rate may look complicated, but you can master this simple task with some experience. Under normal circumstances, a normal heart rate for healthy adults should range between 60-100 beats per minute. According to the Mayo Clinic, you simply have to follow a few steps to measure your heart rate. These steps include:
- Placing your index and third fingers on your neck, to the side of your windpipe or trachea.
- You can also check your pulse at your wrist by placing your fingers between your bone and tendon over your radial artery.
- Once you’re sure you can feel your own pulse, measure it during 15 seconds. Then, multiply the resulting number by four to get the number of beats per minute.
You may experience low or high pulse readings every now and then, but consistently abnormal readings can signal bradycardia (slow heart rate) or tachycardia (rapid heart rate), which can be linked to a number of conditions, such as:
- Thyroid disorders
- Heart disease
- Chronic stress
- Anxiety disorders
- Medications you’re taking
- High cholesterol
2. Keep an eye on your blood pressure
Learning how to measure your own blood pressure also makes it easier to check on your heart health at home. As you may have heard before, high blood pressure doesn’t cause warning signs in most cases, so checking your own blood pressure allows you to know whether you have hypertension before you develop any complications.
Taking your own blood pressure is surprisingly easy once you’re used to doing it. According to the CDC, you’ll need to have a heart pressure monitor at home. Some people are used to having this equipment at home, especially if they suffer from heart disease.
To take your blood pressure, you’ll simply have to:
- Avoid eating or drinking anything 30 minutes prior to your reading
- Sit down calmly for at least 5 minutes before your reading
- Keep your feet flat on the ground and your legs uncrossed
- Rest the arm where you’ll be getting your reading on a table or surface at chest height
- Remove items of clothing so the cuff is in contact with your bare skin on your arm
- Place the heart pressure cuff around the arm, but make sure it’s neither too tight nor too lose
- Don’t talk or move while the monitor measures your blood pressure
3. Get at-home heart health tests
There are many lab tests that can be used to determine your heart health, and thanks to modern lab services, you can get many testing kits for these tests at home. Depending on the provider and test, you may be able to take a simple finger prick blood sample and mail it back to your provider. In other cases, you’ll have to go to an authorized in-person lab to get your sample taken.
Some of the heart health tests that you can get at home include:
- Total cholesterol
- HDL and LDL cholesterol
- High-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP)
- Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C)
- Troponin (I or T)
- Cardiac Biomarkers
- Apolipoprotein tests
Some of the best online providers where you can get these tests include:
- myLAB Box
- Health Testing Centers
4. Discuss any new symptoms with your doctor
At-home testing and improving your lifestyle go a long way to reduce your risk of heart disease. However, we all still need to visit the doctor for routine checkups every now and then. It’s also important to share any new signs or symptoms you’ve experienced with your doctor, since these bits of information help your healthcare professional provide an accurate diagnosis and treatment.
5. Learn about the warning signs of heart disease
It’s important to keep in mind that telemedicine can only go so far. You can’t get a heart attack test at home, or check for heart blockage without seeing a doctor first. However, knowing when to seek medical assistance and going to the doctor quickly can save your life in many cases. According to Mount Sinai, some of the initial signs of heart disease include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing or wheezing
- Swelling of the lower limbs
- Pain or fatigue in the lower limbs that improves when you rest
- Numbness in your feet and legs
- Palpitations or rapid, uneven heartbeat
What’s a normal resting heart rate? - mayoclinic.org
Measure Your Blood Pressure - cdc.gov
Warning signs and symptoms of heart disease - mountsinai.org