To get in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I want to speak about heart health. The other week I had a Carotid Intima-media Thickness test (CIMT). The CIMT test measures the lumen (thickness) of spaces such as arteries, veins and capillaries. This test helps identify areas of concern where there may be a blockage or clogging.
Why Take a Test for Your Heart Health?
Traditionally, we’ve compared heart health to the pipes in your home. Over time, debris builds up, slowly restricts flow and eventually gets backed up and needs to be cleaned out. Arteries are very similar. While this is still a cause of cardiovascular issues, it is not the primary cause.
The CIMT test goes a step beyond traditional ultrasound testing to look at more than just debris clogging and build up. The CIMT test investigates the lining of the arteries to see where there might be ruptures or leakage. Where a rupture is present, a plaque can break free from inside the lumen walls and travels to the heart (heart attack) or brain (stroke). The traditional ultrasound cannot detect these risks. In fact, they may report a perfectly clean bill of health even while ruptures and leakage exist.
What I found most alarming is that in most cases, there are no warning signs of a blockage. In over 50% of cases of people who experience cardiovascular episodes, their first warning sign is death. The CIMT test uses new technology and software to look more deeply and assess cardiovascular risk factors that an ultrasound cannot detect. Even if you are given a clean bill of health, get your cholesterol regularly tested and so on, you can be at risk!
At my test, I learned that although my arteries are a few years younger than my true age, I still have a risk factor. I have a follow-up appointment with a specialist who can offer guidance on adjusting my lifestyle and improving my heart health.
Why Heart Health Matters for Business Owners
This October I am attending the The Healthy Executive Summit with David Meinz, MS, RDN, FAND, CSP. For over 25 years David has been a health promotion expert, helping people enhance both their personal and professional productivity. David encourages executives to be proactive about their health and engage in early detection and genetic tests. He helps individuals understand what is beyond normal in their health and how to read the results of their biometric tests. This program is uniquely targeted at high-level executives and business owners with consideration to the unique health concerns they face. For example, if a business owner dies, what happens to their organization? There is an extra level of planning and detail that needs to occur to maintain the livelihood of the business, its employees and clients.
It is a 3-day summit with multiple speakers, health tests and workshops tailored to healthy lifestyle habits for busy execs. It is being held in Orlando directly before the American Dental Association Conference, so for all my dentist readers, you might consider combining the two. Or, take your family and combine it with a vacation!
And Don’t Forget About Financial Health
In addition to your heart health, this Valentine’s Day I want to encourage you to talk about your financial health with loved ones. Life is unpredictable and precious, and despite our best efforts the unexpected can happen. Have you discussed your finances with your significant other or children? It’s pretty common for one spouse or the other to take full charge of the finances, which can pose serious complications when a spouse dies.
What would it take for you to have a conversation with your loved ones about your finances? Don’t wait until a crisis strikes or until it is too late. Think about ways to simplify your information and if possible, appoint a loved one to take full charge if something happens to you. Keep good records and make your spouse aware of major changes (good and bad). Just start with a conversation and see where it leads you.
For many of you, you may not have a loved one who is capable of that responsibility. To that end, I would encourage you to find a financial friend who is trustworthy and capable. This should be someone who understands your investment style, objectives and portfolio. I am not suggesting that you give someone control of your finances or to make decisions, but to be able to advise your spouse or loved one should you be gone or become incapable.
Here’s to your heart and financial health — Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!
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