Here's Why Preventive Cardiology Is Important for Your Health
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the the U.S., responsible for about 1 out of every 4 deaths that occur. Although heart disease tends to be thought of as a medical problem that only occurs at an older age or almost solely affects men, both of those assumptions are untrue - and could be dangerous to your health. In fact, heart disease can develop at any age, and heart disease is the top cause of death for both sexes. And what’s more, people with certain risk factors can be at a much greater risk for heart disease and the problems it can cause.
The good news: Preventive cardiology can help you reduce your risks of heart disease by identifying risk factors associated with the disease and providing you with the guidance and care you need to address those problems and improve your cardiovascular health.
Preventive Cardiology: What Is It?
Your heart is a muscle, and like any muscle, it needs to be kept in good shape in order to continue to function properly. Preventive cardiology starts with a thorough assessment of the heart and cardiovascular system, using an array of tests and evaluations, including:
- a blood pressure evaluations
- weight and body mass index (BMI) calculations
- EKGs to evaluate the heart’s electrical activity
- blood tests to assess levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose (blood sugar) and other factors
- echocardiograms (ultrasound evaluations of the heart)
- cardiac stress testing, used to evaluate how the heart functions during strenuous physical activity
In addition, the cardiologist will ask for an in-depth personal and family medical history as well as information about the patient’s lifestyle and habits, like tobacco, alcohol and drug use, physical activity levels, stress management and other issues that can affect heart health.
At the conclusion of the evaluation, patients will be provided with a customized treatment plan including guidance to help them improve unhealthy behaviors so they can reduce their risks for cardiovascular diseases. Additional testing may also be ordered, depending on the results of the initial evaluations.
Who benefits from preventive cardiology?
Considering heart disease is so prevalent, just about any adult can benefit from preventive care. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends regular cardiovascular screening beginning at age 20. While the tests and evaluations used in preventive care can benefit healthy men and women with no known risk factors for heart disease, they’re especially important for those with known risk factors like:
- hypertension (high blood pressure)
- high cholesterol
- family history of heart disease
- history of smoking
- sedentary lifestyle
- personal history of diseases that affect the cardiovascular system, like Marfan’s syndrome or rheumatic fever
Cardiac Specialists in San Luis Obispo
Ready to take that first step toward better cardiovascular health? Call Premier Heart and Vein Care at 805-979-4777 and schedule an evaluation today.
Visit Our Cardiovascular Center for State-of-the-Art Stress Testing
Cardiac testing plays an important role in identifying heart disease and its risk factors, and it’s also important for ensuring ongoing treatment stays on track. Our practice offers several types of cardiac testing depending on each patient’s individual needs and the type of information that’s being sought. One of the most useful tests for diagnosing heart problems and managing their treatment is called a cardiac stress test - and although the name may sound a little scary, it’s actually a simple, straightforward, noninvasive evaluation that can be performed right here in our cardiovascular center.
Cardiac Stress Tests: What Are They?
Cardiac stress tests are designed to evaluate how well the heart performs during strenuous physical activity.
The tests can be useful in diagnosing and treating an array of heart-related issues, including:
- coronary artery disease
- valve-related problems
- rhythm problems, including atrial fibrillation
- congestive heart failure
Plus, the tests can be very helpful in managing treatment for existing cardiovascular problems and in identifying risk factors for heart disease.
How is a stress test performed at a cardiovascular center?
Prior to the test, you’ll be given instructions about whether or not to take certain types of meds, and it’s a good idea to eat only a light meal during the few hours before the test. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes since you’ll be exercising.
At the start of the test, EKG leads will be attached to your skin in specific areas using a sticky gel. The EKG will be used throughout the entire test to monitor your heart’s electrical activity. An ultrasound (echocardiogram) of the heart may also be performed to obtain detailed images of the heart’s structures (including the heart’s walls, valves and chambers) and the blood vessels and blood flow around the heart. During the echocardiogram, a special handpiece called a transducer will be passed over your skin, transmitting data to a computer and monitor where the images can be viewed.
Next, you’ll be asked to walk on a treadmill at a steadily increasing speed until a target heart rate is reached. A second ultrasound will be performed once that target rate is achieved. Once the test is complete, you’ll be able to resume your regular activities, and the doctor will carefully review your results and discuss them with you, either the same day or within the next day or two.
Keep your heart healthy.
Stress tests are also used in preventive cardiology to help people reduce their risks for cardiovascular disease. If you’ve been experiencing heart-related problems, if you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease, or if you just want to understand your risks for disease, a cardiac evaluation is essential. At Premier Heart and Vein, we offer state-of-the-art cardiac testing to help men and women improve their heart health and reduce their risk for serious heart-related problems. To schedule your evaluation at our cardiovascular center, give us a call at 805-979-4777 today.