Many healthcare specialists recommend undergoing a complete medical checkup, including a heart checkup, every year. Your family doctor will examine you every year for all diseases. This task is generally performed by a primary health care specialist. Your health history, complete physical examination, and some lab tests generally are part of this annual checkup. For ruling out the chance of any heart-related disease, a cardiac test is performed. ECG or Electrocardiogram is the basic test to measure cardiac activity.
Cardiac Diseases Incidence Ratio
Research reports show that one out of every three deaths in the United States is due to cardiovascular diseases these days. In other words, more than 25% of deaths each year are a result of cardiac diseases. This high incidence ratio of cardiac diseases depicts a lack of proper counseling and education for common people.
Importance of Cardiac Checkups
Various heart diseases are common these days. Coronary artery disease (CAD), arrhythmias, heart attack, and pericarditis are all types of heart diseases. A heart checkup is thus recommended to rule out the possibility of any of these diseases. If detected earlier, people having a risk of developing heart diseases in the future can undergo lifestyle modifications to live a healthy life.
What does the Screening Test include?
Screening test by healthcare physician incorporates the following important details
To identify all risk factors, family history is usually taken in detail. If the disease is common in your family and your ancestors, there is a high chance for you to develop the disease at some stage of your life. Family members include blood relations and your elders like grandparents.
High cholesterol level is one of the most important predisposing factors for heart disease. The test used for measuring the level of cholesterol in the body is Lipid Panel Screening. Lipid panel screening is a comprehensive test that helps in measuring the levels of high-density lipoproteins, low-density lipoproteins, and triglycerides.
While conducting regular screening tests, blood pressure is also measured. High blood pressure is directly associated with cardiac disease in most cases. High blood pressure is considered a risk factor for cardiac diseases.
High Blood Sugar Levels
The high blood sugar level is one of the most important risk factors for stroke and cardiac diseases. Most of the time fasting and random blood glucose levels are monitored to make an accurate diagnosis.
Role of C-Reactive Protein
CRP or C-reactive protein is present in the blood. CRP is an indicator of inflammation. Thus, if there is a high level of CRP, it signifies that there are some inflammation and infection. A high CRP value is a risk factor for cardiac diseases.
Frequency of Heart Checkups
How often you should go to your health care specialist for a heart check-up depends on health care guidelines. Heart screening is generally recommended for everyone over the age of 20 years. However, the frequency of screening depends more on an individual’s risk factors and diagnosis. As a general recommendation by the American Heart Association, if the average blood pressure of a person is less than 120/80 mmHg, he/she should be screened for cardiovascular abnormalities every two years. Moreover, for normal-risk patients, recommendations are to measure cholesterol levels every four to six years. Blood glucose levels are recommended to be measured at least every three years. According to various research reports, CRP levels should be monitored for patients who have a 10 to 20% risk of having a heart attack.
When is Electrocardiogram (ECG) Required?
An ECG or electrocardiogram measures the activity of the heart at rest. It provides practitioners with a clear picture of the heart rate and rhythm of the heart. If there is an enlargement of the heart (hypertrophy) due to high blood pressure, it is identified using an ECG. One needs an ECG test if he has risk factors for heart disease. Risk factors include hypertension, palpitations, chest pain, etc.
How can You Protect Your Heart?
If you have one or two risk factors for developing heart disease in the future, you need to take care of your health and lifestyle to protect yourself from future heart ailments. The following measures can help in this regard:
Identification of Risk Factors
Work on Your Risk Factors
Once identified, you should work on your risk factors to improve your health condition. For instance, if you are a smoker you should quit smoking. Give up a sedentary lifestyle and incorporate physical exercises in your routine. Control sugar intake in your diet. Similarly, work on reducing portions of fat in your diet, to keep your serum cholesterol level in control.
A sedentary lifestyle is one of the most important risk factors for various physical and mental ailments. To improve your lifestyle, you need to follow a healthy plan for maintaining your weight and general well-being.
Following lifestyle changes are highly recommended for all people who have developed risk factors for cardiac diseases.
Exercise has no other replacement. No other lifestyle change can contribute to your improvement, the way exercise does. Exercise increases your physical and mental strength. It prepares you for day-to-day tasks and helps you keep a check on your weight as well.
Being at risk of heart disease does not imply that one should stop the intake of fats in the diet. You need to eat more cautiously, keeping in mind the impact of your food. Add healthy foods to your diet. Omega three is a cardio-friendly food nutrient. Start consuming foods enriched with omega-three fatty acids.
A healthy mind and body is the dream of every individual. To stay healthy, you need to incorporate positive lifestyle changes into your life and get rid of health-damaging habits. Moreover, you should get your cardiac screening done regularly, according to your risk factors, to identify any abnormality at any time. Always remember that preventative care is better than a cure.
– Disclaimer –
This blog is for informational & educational purposes only, and does not intend to substitute any professional medical advice or consultation. For any health related concerns, please consult with your physician, or call 911.
About The AuthorDr. Syra Hanif M.D.
Board Certified Primary Care Physician
Dr. Syra Hanif is a board-certified Primary Care Physician (PCP) dedicated to providing compassionate, patient-centered healthcare.Read More