If you’re reading this, you probably understand the severity of cardiovascular disease. In fact, it is the leading killer of both male and female Americans. As a result, not only is it one of the most significant health challenges in the United States and around the world, but it is one that can be reversed with prevention and screening. Did you know that up to 80% of cardiovascular issues can be avoided altogether with proper prevention? As it relates to prevention, we will discuss heart healthy habits and lifestyle changes often within this blog. However, for this article we want to focus on screening.

Cardiologist reviews a patients health history and labs to determine what cardiovascular screening is appropriate at Nevada Cardiology Associates

Believe it or not, we start screening patients for cardiovascular disease early on – even in their 20s. Simple blood pressure checks and blood work to identify cholesterol allow us to develop a trend line that stratifies the risk of heart disease in each of our patients. As they get older and reach their 40s, electrocardiograms or EKGs become a standard part of the annual physical. However, as we get closer to a patient’s 50s or 60s, we begin to think about a more complete regimen, as well as risk factors that may require early screening.

The Major Risk Factors Requiring Early Screening

One of the most common risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease involves our genes. If one or more close relatives have been diagnosed with heart disease at a relatively early age, we know that there is a higher risk for you as well. Similarly, if one of these close relatives died from heart disease at an early age, this risk can be further increased.

Excess weight and obesity are a significant cause of morbidity in the United States and around the world. Obesity affects virtually every part of the body, not least of which is the heart. Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure can all contribute to longer term cardiovascular disease including heart attack, stroke, and heart failure. As such, patients who suffer from obesity will likely be screened earlier than someone of normal risk.

Patients who have undergone certain forms of cancer treatment including radiation near the chest may also require additional screening due to cardiotoxicity which can manifest months or even years after treatment. Those who smoke, drink excessively, partake in drug use or who have congenital heart disorders may also require early screening.

Of course, anyone who experiences unusual heart related concerns including arrhythmias, chest pain and or the symptoms of arterial blockage should all be screened for possible cardiovascular problems. If you believe you are having a cardiac emergency, before to dial 911 or go to the ER immediately.

Commercial Cardiovascular Screening

With an increased focus on people’s health, has come a significant rise in commercial screenings, including those involving cardiovascular status. These are tests patients pay for to understand more about their cardiovascular risk and heart health in general. While the data generated by these tests can be interesting, they are usually not reviewed by a qualified medical professional and as such may not offer a complete picture. It is important that you rely on your primary care physician and your cardiologist to understand more about your heart health and get a recommendation on when screening should be pursued.

Next Steps

The most important step is to understand your cardiovascular risk. Generally, your overall health is a good predictor of your heart health, but you should make a point of knowing your family’s heart health as well. Speaking to your primary care physician and / or a cardiologist here at Nevada Cardiology Associates is a great next step in understanding your risk of cardiovascular surgery and developing a plan to detect it early or prevent it altogether. We encourage you to give us a call and schedule a consultation with one of our cardiologists.