When I stepped into the Gilpin County Public Health building for a Cardiac Risk Assessment, I had no idea what to expect. “I’m perfectly healthy…what am I doing here?” My doubts subsided as Holly, Gilpin County Public Health’s new administrative assistant, greeted me with a bright smile and directed me down the hall to the right. That’s where I met Carolyn Kennedy, Licensed Public Nurse and Community Health Worker from Clear Creek County. Carolyn greeted me at the door with a confident handshake. And then I remembered why I made the appointment: Heart disease is the number one cause of death in Gilpin County. While I don’t have any symptoms of heart disease, it is crucial to understand lifestyle choices that might be hurting my long-term heart health. The good news: many of the factors that lead to heart disease are preventable like controlling your weight and quitting smoking.
Knowledge is Health
“Education is the most important factor in chronic disease prevention,” she told me as I filled out a form allowing Carolyn to take a tiny drop of blood from my finger. She pressed the drop onto a tiny piece of glass and slid it into a machine to analyze the sample. As we waited for the readout Carolyn asked me to stand on a body composition scale – the most sophisticated scale I’ve ever seen. It measures your height, weight, Body Mass Index and fat percentage. Within seconds the scale beeped and printed out a receipt with all the facts. The tiny machine analyzing one drop of my blood also printed out a receipt describing my blood glucose, and total cholesterol, breaking it down into LDL (bad) cholesterol and HDL (good) cholesterol. As she checked my blood pressure and pulse we talked about what all the numbers mean, and how I can make better lifestyle choices to improve my heart health, “so the golden years can be golden rather than weighed down by heart disease.”
Carolyn has been commuting to Gilpin County since 2009 to offer Cardiac Risk assessments to Gilpin residents. As a Licensed Practical Nurse she has the expertise to talk with you about what the test results mean. She comes to the Gilpin County Public Health building on the second Wednesday and fourth Tuesday of every month, and spends approximately 30 minutes with each person who comes in for a Cardiac Risk Assessment.
An A1C test is also offered as a part of the Cardiac Risk assessment for $10. This test measures your blood glucose levels over the past three months – an important piece of information if you might be pre-diabetic, or have a strong family history of diabetes.
How can YOU take better care of your heart NOW?
- Eat healthy and get active!
- Watch your weight
- Quit smoking (quitting NOW reduces your risk for developing heart disease by 50%)
- Manage stress
- Be informed! Getting a Cardiac Risk Assessment gives you the facts about your present heart health and lifestyle factors that put your heart at risk, and gives you the tools to make positive, lasting change for your heart health.
Gilpin County Public Health offers free cardiac risk assessments twice a month. These assessments check total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides, blood glucose, blood pressure and oxygen levels to determine the risk of heart disease. Call 303-582-5803 for an appointment today.
…and, if you don’t happen to live along the scenic Peak to Peak highway along the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, why not call your local Public Health Department? Get to know the resources they offer to help keep your community healthy and happy!