Heart problems refer to a range of conditions that affect the heart. Heart problems include Coronary artery disease, Arrhythmias, Congenital heart defects, Heart valve disease, etc.
With the current sedentary lifestyle of majority people, heart problems are becoming more and more common. It is, therefore, important to detect heart problems at the right time to prevent heart health deterioration or worse.
Pay Attention to the Symptoms
To detect heart problems, it is important to pay attention to the following symptoms:
- Chest Pain, Pressure, Fullness, or Discomfort
It is important to pay attention to symptoms such as minor discomfort or pain in the centre of your chest, pressure, squeezing, or fullness. These symptoms normally appear gradually and may disappear and reappear.
There is a possibility of interpreting these as symptoms of something less serious, such as heartburn. However, you are the best judge of your own body. If you suspect something is wrong, you should not take it lightly and consult a cardiologist immediately.
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- Difficulty in breathing
If you feel like you’ve raced a marathon but you have simply walked up the stairs, it could be a symptom that your heart isn’t pumping enough blood to the rest of your body. Shortness of breath can occur with or without chest discomfort, and it’s a common symptom of heart problems.
- Nausea and cold sweats
Waking up in cold sweats, feeling sick or vomiting might be flu symptoms, but they could also be signals of a heart problem. You may know how the flu feels like because you’ve had it before, but listen to your instincts if you feel these flu-like symptoms are a sign of something more serious.
Here are some ways through which cardiologists detect heart problems so that corrective measures can be taken in time:
- Blood Pressure Test: A blood pressure test helps in diagnosing the risk of high blood pressure. High blood pressure puts a greater strain on your heart and can lead to artery damage. If treatment is not sought in time, blood clots can form, which can lead to severe heart problems such as heart attack and heart failure.
After attaining the age of 20, one should get a blood pressure test done at least once every two years. High blood pressure can be regulated with medications and lifestyle modifications.
- Cholesterol Test: Cholesterol test is important because high cholesterol has no signs, therefore, you can’t even realise that you are at risk unless you get this test done.
This test measures Total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, and triglycerides. If your cardiologist diagnoses that you have a higher risk of heart failure or stroke, you may need to be tested more often.
In this case too, medications and lifestyle change can help in managing cholesterol levels.
- Blood Glucose Test: This test determines the level of sugar (glucose) in your blood. A blood glucose test can also be used to determine whether or not you have diabetes. Diabetes, if left unchecked, can lead to heart disease and stroke.
A blood glucose test should be taken every three years starting at the age of 40 for most people.
- Weight and BMI: Your doctor can ask for your waist circumference or use your body weight to measure your body mass index (BMI). This test helps in determining whether you have a healthy body weight and composition.
Obese people are generally at a greater risk for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other health issues than people with healthy body weight.
- Other heart tests: After the above routine tests, if your doctor diagnoses that you may have heart disease, you may be asked to get tests such as electrocardiography (ECG, EKG), echocardiography, coronary catheter angiography, coronary CT angiography (CTA), cardiac CT scan for calcium scoring, nuclear stress test, and exercise cardiac stress test.
If you are diagnosed with heart disease, your doctor can suggest a range of lifestyle changes, medications, and other treatments to help you manage your heart problem.
Heart risk factors need to be identified to get proper treatment and prevention on time. Regular heart check-ups can help in determining these risk factors, thus maintaining optimum heart health.
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