Should You See a Cardiovascular Doctor?

When to See a Cardiologist

Cardiologists play an important role in helping both men and women manage their health, especially as they get older. But when – and how often – should you see a cardiovascular doctor? Here’s what you should know:

You’re having symptoms.

Certainly, if you have acute or chronic pain in the chest or belly region, that’s a sign you should see a cardiologist. But those are just some of the symptoms you need to be aware of. Other symptoms that could be a sign of heart disease include:

  • shortness of breath

  • weakness

  • persistent fatigue

  • chronic cough

  • palpitations or irregularities in the way the heart beats

  • pain in the jaw, back, shoulders or arms

  • becoming extremely tired right after exercise or during exercise

  • swelling in the hands or feet

Heart disease affects women just as much as it affects men, and symptoms can vary from one person to another. Sometimes, symptoms can be very subtle. Because these symptoms could be an early warning sign of a heart-related problems, it’s important not to ignore them.

You have varicose veins.

Varicose veins develop when the tiny valves inside the blood vessels malfunction. Normally, these valves open and close in sequence, keeping blood flowing in the right direction. But if the valves become damaged, blood can collect and “pool up” behind the valves, causing bulges and weakening in the veins and creating the unattractive purplish appearance we see through the skin. While varicose veins don’t necessarily indicate a problem with the heart, cardiac health does depend on good circulation, so these veins should be evaluated and treated as soon as possible to maintain optimal health.

You’re 20 years old or older.

That’s right, the American Heart Association recommends cardiac screening beginning at age 20 for everyone. Screening uses a series of painless, minimally-invasive evaluations and tests to determine if a person is at risk for developing heart disease. The primary test used in screening is the EKG or electrocardiogram, a device that uses a series of wires connected to the skin with sticky leads to measure the heart’s electrical activity. Sometimes other evaluations are also performed. Once the initial screening is complete, the cardiologist will determine how often to conduct future screenings.

You have risk factors for heart disease.

Some people are more likely to develop heart disease than others, including people with risk factors like:

  • older age

  • smoking

  • diets high in unhealthy fats

  • high blood pressure (hypertension)

  • high cholesterol

  • sedentary lifestyles

  • obesity

  • family or personal history of heart-related problems including heart attacks and coronary artery disease

  • chronic stress

If you don’t know your risk factors, a cardiac screening can help you identify them.

Schedule a cardiac screening today.

Premier Heart and Vein Care is a leading cardiology and vascular practice providing the highest quality care for patients in and around San Luis Obispo, Calif. If you have heart-related symptoms or risk factors, or if you’ve never been screened for heart disease, call the office at 805-979-4777 and schedule an appointment today.

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