Heart disease is the silent killer. It’s time to be tracked

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US, yet about 80% of cardiac events are preventable through early detection and prevention plans. Most people don’t go to the doctor until something is wrong. Unfortunately, this thought does not solve when come to your heart’s health.

Heart disease tests provide information about your heart health. Knowing your numbers for key factors can help you monitor your well-being and adjust your lifestyle. Let’s talk about heart disease, why you need to get tested and when to get tested.

What is heart disease?

Heart disease is a general term used to describe a number of conditions that affect the heart, including but not limited to arrhythmias, valve disease, and congenital heart defects. The most common heart disease is coronary artery disease, which damages blood vessels, hinders blood flow to the heart and can increase the risk of a heart attack. heart attack.

Heart disease is often not diagnosed until symptoms of a heart attack or heart failure develop. Regular heart disease screenings are essential to help you stay ahead of many health problems.

What causes heart disease?

Heart disease can happen at any age. In the case of congenital heart disease, it can happen at birth. Other times, it develops throughout our lives, like coronary artery disease, progressing slowly as plaque builds up. The cause of heart disease varies depending on the type of condition. Let’s focus on coronary heart disease, as it’s the most common type that people experience.

The causes of coronary heart disease are genetics, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. Essentially, your heart has to work harder because things are getting in the way, putting more strain on the heart than necessary. Your heart can only function for so long under excessive stress.

The CDC says nearly half of Americans have at least one risk factor for heart disease. That’s why you should get tested regularly. Now let’s dive in when you should.

Tip: It’s before symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pressure, or weakness set in.

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When should you be screened for heart disease?

The American Heart Association recommends that routine checkups begin at age 20. That seems early, but heart disease can also affect younger people. By starting regular checkups in your 20s, your doctor can establish a baseline for your body and monitor changes as you age. At this stage, even if you are not considered to be at high risk (see below), it is important to monitor blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, and lifestyle factors through family history, physical exams, and blood tests. Routine checkups for those at lower risk should include the following:

  • Blood pressure: If your blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg, testing should be done at least every two years, or more often if your blood pressure is higher.
  • Cholesterol: Patients with normal cholesterol levels should have a fasting lipoprotein profile via a blood test at least every four to six years.
  • Blood glucose: This must be done at least every three years, starting at age 45.
  • lifestyle factors: At each medical consultation, factors such as physical activity, diet and smoking will be discussed.

High risk factors require more frequent monitoring

Regular examinations for all patients should begin at age 20 and continue at intervals. However, if you are at high risk for cardiovascular disease, you are likely to be screened more often. Risk factors include high blood pressure, cholesterol or glucose results, family history of heart disease, be overweight and certain lifestyle factors, including diet, smoking, and activity level.

Usually, if you have two or more risk factors, additional cardiovascular testing is needed, especially if you have symptoms associated with heart disease, such as an irregular heartbeat.

Additional tests may include:

  • Electrocardiogram: To measure heart rate and electrical activity, you may need an electrocardiogram. It is a painless and non-invasive method of monitoring heart function. All it takes is some sticky electrodes on your chest. Risk factors that warrant an EKG are chest pain, heart palpitations, or an irregular heartbeat. Your doctor may require you to wear a portable electrocardiogram called a Holter monitor for a few days to get a more complete picture.
  • echocardiogram: There are times when your doctor may want to examine the structure of your heart. An echocardiogram involves an ultrasound machine to assess how your heart pumps.
  • stress tests: Cardiac stress tests are basically EKGs with exercise. Your doctor will place electrodes on your chest and you will walk, run, or cycle while your doctor monitors your heart’s response. Nuclear stress tests include radioactive dyes and imaging machines during rest and exercise.
  • Cardiac CT scan for calcium score: To determine how much plaque has built up in your arteries, your doctor may use a CT scan.
  • Coronary artery angiogram: Whether it’s a CT scan or a catheter inserted into the groin or arm, an angiogram measures blood flow and the size of the arteries.

Practical tips to prevent heart disease

Heart disease is serious, but it’s also largely preventable and treatable, especially with regular checkups. You have more control over your heart health than you think. Try adding these daily habits to your life to decrease the risk of heart disease.

  • Quit smoking: Smoking is a major cause of heart disease. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do to reduce your chances of developing heart disease.
  • Move yourself: Exercise it’s the oldest piece of advice in the books for a reason. You should get 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week to maintain heart health. It’s just 30 minutes a day for five days.
  • Monitor your health at home: There are at home heart rate, blood pressure It is glucose monitorslike this fitness trackers that can help you monitor your health between doctor appointments.
  • fine tune your diet: Eat foods that nourish your body It is essential for heart health. Whenever possible, avoid foods high in saturated and trans fats. Look for opportunities in your diet to make healthy switches. Always opt for nutrient-dense meals that include vegetables and whole grains.
  • Elder couple running in the park.

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Too long; did not read?

Don’t just take a “good enough” approach to your health. The heart is one of the most vital organs in the body, and sometimes it’s hard to know when it’s sick. That’s why heart health screenings start so early. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are some of the most common conditions, and unfortunately, they significantly increase your risk of developing heart disease.

Regular exams and checkups are among the best tools to determine your health and help you make changes that can lower your chances of developing heart disease. You don’t have to wait to check yourself. If you have a history of heart problems, try using home health monitors between doctor visits.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.

Heart disease is the silent killer. It’s time to be tracked

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