It’s an old adage that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. That’s particularly true when it comes to heart and blood vessel disease. At Premier Heart and Vein Care, our cardiac specialists would much rather help our patients stay healthy than have to treat a problem, so we do our best to practice preventive cardiology. Preventive cardiology strategies fall into three groups: primordial, primary and secondary.
Primordial Preventive Cardiology
Primordial treatment focuses on prevention of risk factors. In some cases, these are not preventable. For example, older people are more likely to develop heart, blood vessel and vein disease, and many of these conditions have genetic components. However, lifestyle can make a difference, even in those who may have a family history of heart disease. For example, Jim Fixx, who was a noted runner in the 1970s and helped popularize the sport, died of a heart attack while jogging at the age of 52. However, his father died at age 43 of a heart attack and had his first heart attack at age 35. An assessment by aerobic and fitness expert Dr. Kenneth Cooper suggested Fixx bought himself years of time despite his inherited heart condition because of his exercise habits and improved health (he was formerly obese and a heavy smoker). Primordial prevention may focus on an individual patient or on communities, with smoking cessation programs or decreasing air pollution.
Primary Preventive Cardiology
Primary prevention focuses on the treatment of identified risk factors. Patients who have conditions like irregular heart beats (arrhythmia) narrowed blood vessels or abnormal lab work have a higher risk of a heart attack or blood vessel disease. People who are obese or who spend much of their time at work on their feet are more likely to develop varicose veins. In these cases, doctors treat the problems that increase the risk of more serous conditions. For example, the patient with an arrhythmia receives a medication to make the heart beats more regular, and those who are at risk of varicose veins wear support stockings.
Secondary Preventive Cardiology
Sometimes preventive strategies aren’t enough, or patients aren’t inspired to change their lifestyles until something like a heart attack occurs. In those cases, doctors practice secondary prevention. These strategies might include medications to help thin the blood (anticoagulants) and prevent heart attacks or stokes from blood clots. Other secondary prevention strategies include cardiac rehabilitation to promote circulation and physical fitness after a heart attack. Diagnostic tools like carotid ultrasounds or Holter monitors can track a patient’s condition and spot potential problems early. Small varicose veins are treated early to prevent them from growing and possibly causing leg ulcers.
Prevention is a great strategy for heart and blood vessel disease, and preventive cardiology can make a difference. If you have any concerns about symptoms or your medical history and risks, contact Premier Heart and Vein Care. Our cardiac specialists can assess your risks and develop a care plan that meets your individual needs.