WESTMINSTER, Maryland (CNN) — When Carrie Vincent of Westminster, Maryland, had three miscarriages a few years ago, her doctors put her through a lot of tests. She found she suffered from an ailment known as prothrombin gene mutation, a rare syndrome that causes blood clots.
Though she was aware it was a blood condition, she never thought about her heart. She didn't even know her vital numbers. So when she had a heart attack at 31, just days after giving birth to her son, it came as quite a shock. Told she had a 90 percent blockage to her heart, she now takes medication.
Eighteen months later, Vincent has become a crusader for women's heart health and holds seminars to let women know the signs of a heart attack. She also reminds them about tests they need to make sure the heart is in good shape. Her mantra is "Know your numbers and know what they mean."
Ten years ago, if you just knew your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers you were considered heart savvy. But now, with tests for heart disease factors including C-reactive protein, coronary calcium scores and high-speed scans, heart health can be pretty confusing — and expensive. That leaves a lot of people wondering which tests are necessary for them and which ones are a waste of time and money.
The American Heart Association recommends anyone over the age of 20 start thinking about getting his or her blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides measured every year. Knowing your numbers early, cardiologists say, is key to preventing heart disease.