Whether heart disease or strokes run in your family or you just like to take every step possible to ensure that you stay in good health, then you likely do everything you can to live a heart-healthy lifestyle. Just a few of the keys to preventing heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes are maintaining a healthy cholesterol level, keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level, exercising, and eating a healthy diet.

However, you may have trouble keeping your "bad cholesterol" levels down if hyperlipidemia runs in your family and, even if you are pretty sure you are in great health, still wonder if you are really doing everything "right" to prevent disease. 

If you care about your health, then the great news is that primary care doctors now have two additional tools in their arsenals that can help you ward off heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. Read on to learn all about them and how they can help you stay as healthy as possible. 

1. New Cholesterol-Lowering Medication Can Help Lower Stubborn High Cholesterol Counts

If your primary care doctor ran routine blood work in the past that determined your cholesterol was high, then you are not alone. Over 33 percent of adult Americans suffer from high levels of "bad" cholesterol, or LDL. Your doctor likely advised you to start limiting your saturated fat intake and, if that wasn't enough to lower your LDL level, began prescribing you a cholesterol-lowering medication called a statin. 

While some people respond well to diet changes and/or statins, others only notice mild improvement in their high cholesterol when taking one of these medications. Until now, there was little else your primary care doctor could due to help get your high cholesterol under control, which is important for keeping your heart healthy and preventing strokes in the future. 

Thankfully, a new medication has been found that helps people with high cholesterol that is only slightly controlled with statins lower their cholesterol counts even more. This medication is called evolocumab, and unlike statins that you take daily in pill form, evolucamub is given by injection once or twice a month, depending on how much you need to get your high cholesterol under control. 

If you have high cholesterol and know that it is not well-controlled, even though you have started eating a healthier diet and take a statin medication, then ask your primary care doctor about this new medication and whether it may help you lower your "bad" cholesterol levels; this can help prevent heart attacks and strokes in the future. 

2. New ICHRON Test Can Help You Learn if You Are at Risk for Disease in the Next Three Years

Many people diagnosed with chronic disease, including heart disease, wish they would have "seen it coming" and taken better care of their health in the past to prevent the disease. After all, even people who live very healthy lifestyles often have a "vice" or two that they know could lead to disease, but just don't have the motivation to quit due to the vice just being a potential health risk. 

If this sounds like you, or you live a very healthy lifestyle and just want to find out if all of your effort to stay healthy is paying off, then you may want to ask your primary care doctor to determine your Intermountain Chronic Disease Risk, or ICHRON, score. This is a recently developed health test that your primary care doctor can use to determine if you are at risk for the development of a wide array of chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, and even cancer, in the next three years, with 78 percent accuracy. 

To determine your ICHRON score, your primary care physician makes calculations based on the results of a panel of routine blood work and your age. If your ICHRON score is high, then that means you are at risk for the development of chronic disease and need to make lifestyle changes to lower your score. If your ICHRON score is low, then that will give you great peace-of-mind that all the steps you are taking now to keep your body healthy are really paying off. 

If you have uncontrolled high cholesterol or you want to find out if you are at risk for the development of chronic disease in the near future, then ask your primary care doctor about one or both of these two new tools they can use to help you stay healthy, especially if you have a family history of heart disease or strokes. 

To learn more, contact services like Rural Health Services Consortium Inc.