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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Your Pap and Your Mammogram Are Heart Tests Too!

The pap test and HPV testing on the pap is a cellular biopsy to determine the health of your cervix. We have arrived at the concept of a "liquid biopsy," for some organs meaning that we can check the health of that organ with the appropriate blood test. In some cases this actually means harvesting cells from the blood stream. In the case of the cardiovascular system it means determining the nature of levels that correlate with the condition of your blood tests. But Heart Health means overall cardiovascular system health. Your blood pressure should be normal, your heart should beat at a modest pace, and your blood vessel walls should be pristine clear of inflammation and plaque build up. How we determined this used to be a weight, a blood pressure check and a cholesterol measurement. The addition of lipid tests that are beyond the cholesterol number, and delve into the fat and carbohydrate metabolism has been the newest frontier in heart health testing. But we can look at heart health through  the window of the mammogram, calcification in the blood vessels on mammogram correlates with vessel disease through out your body.  And now there is a new test: your pap! Actually, it is more than just a pap, it is a test for HPV disease that can indicate heart health or disease. Those women who test positive for  HR-HPV is associated with almost a 3 times greater risk of  atherosclerosis, and are at greater risks for strokes and non-fatal myocardial infarction (heart attack). Remember that 50% of all strokes and heart attacks are in women with normal cholesterol, and about 20% are not found to have any risk factors at all. So you and your gyno have to be vigilant for other factors that are preventable.And for all of us, we need to learn simple prevention strategies for saving those around us if they go down with a heart attack.

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