Weekly Wellness: Love your health care team

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COLUMBIA - I don't know about you, but I love my physician. I do! She is wonderful! I luckily don't need to see her too terribly often, but when I do, I know I will be taken care of - with a smile.

We are lucky to live in such a medically-conscious city like Columbia. We have some of the best physicians in the country available in our backyard. I am so grateful.

It is with this in mind, that we begin this week's focus of how to impact our risk for heart disease.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) offers a number of strategies for impacting our heart health in a positive way. I would like to challenge you to do a few of them now.

Work with your health care team. Get a checkup at least once each year, even if you feel healthy. A doctor, nurse, or other health care professional can check for conditions that put you at risk for CVD, such as high blood pressure and diabetes-conditions that can go unnoticed for too long.

Monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure often has no symptoms, so be sure to have it checked on a regular basis. You can check your blood pressure at home, at a pharmacy, or at a doctor's office. Find more information at CDC's High Blood Pressure website.

Get your cholesterol checked. Your health care team should test your cholesterol levels at least once every 5 years. Talk with your health care professional about this simple blood test. You can find out more from CDC's High Cholesterol website.

Take your medicine. If you're taking medication to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or another condition, follow the instructions carefully. Always ask questions if you don't understand something. If you have side effects, talk with your health care team about your options.

If you don't yet have a physician or health care team in place, I challenge you to find one. I challenge you to check your blood pressure. Most pharmacies and some retailers have self-check blood pressure machines available to customers at no charge. So the next time you're picking up a prescription or shopping, stop by the pharmacy area and check your blood pressure.

Once you have established a physician, ask to have your cholesterol checked. And, if you need to be medicated for any medical condition, please make sure to take your medications as instructed by your doctor and pharmacist.