The heart is a crucial organ of the human body that beats more than 100,000 times a day. It starts functioning even before our birth and continues to do so till our last breath without a break. Heart disease accounts for the death of the maximum number of men and women globally every year and many do not know they have heart disease or risk factors which cause heart disease, hence it is very important to take care of the heart.
One solution to reduce the number of deaths is preventive healthcare with identification of risk factors, mitigating them and taking regular check-ups by a cardiologist. Without regular heart check-ups, many health issues may go undetected. On the other hand, regular check-ups can ensure that potential risk factors are detected and timely action can be taken.
Among the many types of heart disease, coronary artery disease is a major problem and causes heart attack. To rule out the possibility of coronary artery disease, a heart check-up is recommended regularly. With earlier detection, people with risks can make modifications to their lifestyle and lead a healthy life.
Reasons to visit a Heart Specialist
There are multiple reasons why it is important to visit a cardiologist and get a thorough check-up regularly. If you have any of the risk factors listed below, it is essential to schedule an appointment with the cardiologist without fail.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure increases the risk of stroke and heart attack.
- Diabetes: Diabetes and cardiovascular disease are correlated. Uncontrolled blood sugar increases the risk of coronary artery disease.
- High cholesterol: High cholesterol leads to plaque formation in the arteries and must be controlled to lower the chances of heart disease.
- Lack of exercise: Lack of exercise or inadequate physical activity can lead to fatty material build-up in the arteries leading to a possible heart attack.
- Heart disease in the family: Heart disease is sometimes genetic and the early onset of heart disease in close relatives can be an indicator of risk.
- Tobacco use in any form: Tobacco consumption increases the probability of heart attacks and strokes drastically. Tobacco in any form and smoking specially increases plaque formation in blood vessels and increases the risk of death.
- Alcohol: Regular drinking of alcohol can increase blood pressure and the level of fat in the blood. It increases the risk of heart attack. It can also cause cardiomyopathy or heart muscle disease.
- Fast food: Fast food has saturated fat that can raise LDL or bad cholesterol. This increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Chronic kidney disease: Kidney disease is also linked with coronary artery disease and high blood pressure which affect the heart.
Types of Tests
By taking the right tests at the right time, heart issues can be identified and heart disease can be prevented, thereby promoting the overall health and well-being of individuals. Some of the important tests include:
- Blood pressure tests: BP tests can help to monitor heart health by recording the pressure in the arteries. It is essential to get the BP checked regularly as high BP does not have any symptoms but increases the risk of heart attack, congestive heart failure, etc.
- Blood tests: Blood tests can help to determine cholesterol levels, blood glucose, triglyceride levels, etc. High levels of good cholesterol (HDL) indicate good heart health, while high levels of bad cholesterol (LDL and VLDL) or triglycerides point to a greater risk of heart disease.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG): ECG shows the heart’s electrical activity and heartbeat patterns by which the cardiologist can assess how the heart is working and detect heart rhythm problems like arrhythmia.
- Echo-cardiogram (echo test): In an echo-cardiogram, ultrasound imaging is used to take pictures of the heart as it beats. This helps the cardiologist to diagnose symptoms of heart trouble.
- Calcium scoring tests: Calcium scoring tests use CT scans to check for calcium in the coronary arteries. This can indicate plaque build-up and lead to clogged arteries leading to an increased risk of heart disease.
- Cardiac imaging tests: These include Chest X-rays, Cardiac CT scans, Angiogram, etc. These tests create images of the heart and blood vessels and help the cardiologist in diagnosis.
Leading cardiologist Dr Ramji Mehrotra has said that regular examinations and screenings related to heart health are a must and should be done specially in patients with risk factors. At least once at approximately 40years age. Yearly appointments should be scheduled with the cardiologist and patients with high risk should get their check-ups even more frequently. He gives emphasis on lifestyle modifications also to mitigate the risk of heart disease.
Dr. Mehrotra has also said that with early diagnosis and treatment, the risk of heart disease complications such as stroke and heart attack can be reduced greatly and patients can lead a long, healthy life.