Start with a Healthy Heart Checkup
Heart disease is sometimes called the "silent killer." This is because many people do not have the obvious symptoms of heart trouble until they are having a real heart attack. Heart disease is the number one cause of death for men and women. There are about 500,000 women who die annually of heart disease.
You do not have to be a statistic for heart disease. If you have any symptoms of heart disease or your doctor is concerned about your cholesterol or blood pressure, don't put off getting the help you need.
Visit Your Doctor
Your regular health care professional can put you in touch with a heart specialist. It is a good idea to consult a specialist because they will be familiar with the symptoms and patterns of all the different heart problems.
The heart specialist will start with a medical profile to find out what your risks are of heart disease. Heart disease can be a general term referring to any problem with the heart. But usually it is referring to coronary arterial disease (CAD). This is the most common condition that affects people. It is also called “coronary artery disease.”
CAD is a chronic disease in which the coronary arteries gradually narrow and harden. Some people experience chest pain and fatigue, but as many as 50% do not have any symptoms. That is why an early checkup with your doctor is so important.
You might not realize you have this serious condition unless your doctor recognizes your symptoms. It is the most common cause of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. It seems to develop gradually so early detection and preventive measures can make a huge difference in its development.
The doctor will give you a thorough physical exam and evaluate your coronary risk profile. If needed, he might order diagnostic tests to determine the condition of your arteries before critical problems occur. These tests can include blood tests to measure levels of cholesterol, homocyteine, C-reactive protein, and blood clotting factors. These are some of the factors that put you at risk for coronary disease.
Tests to Determine Your Risk
There are other tests that your doctor might order to assess the condition of your heart. The EKG is a highly sensitive machine that detects irregularities and damage to your heart. The exercise stress test is commonly used to monitor your heart's reaction under controlled exercise.
An echo cardiogram is used to study the condition of your heart valves, looking for leaking or narrowing valves. An angioplasty may be used if any of the other tests are abnormal. It involves inserting a catheter and dye into a major blood vessel. This shows the doctor the exact number and position of any blockages in your coronary arteries.
Questions to Ask
If your doctor determines that you have a risk of serious coronary disease, he will recommend the appropriate treatments or preventive measures. To help you better understand and treat your condition, you should ask your doctor some questions. First, make sure you understand your diagnosis. Find out what treatments he recommends and what side affects are to be expected.
You can ask your doctor if there are any alternative treatments for your condition. Ask if there are any over the counter medications you should avoid or if any of your other medicines could interfere with your heart medication. Ask your doctor's advice on lifestyle changes that could alter the course of your disease. Inquire if you should exercise or avoid certain activities because of your condition. Find out if you need to be on a specific diet or avoid some types of foods. If you smoke, find out how this will affect your situation.
Don't Delay Your Checkup
If you are in a high-risk group, such as elderly, obese, smokers, or have a family history of heart disease, make sure you take precautions to prevent heart disease. If you have already had symptoms of coronary problems, visit your doctor and begin a program to correct or lessen the affects of the disease. You can live a long healthy life by taking care of your heart before it becomes permanently damaged.