Are you at risk for a heart attack?
According to the American Heart Association, coronary heart disease (also called coronary artery disease, or CAD) is the leading cause of death in the United States. It occurs when a buildup of fatty deposits, or plaque, blocks the amount of oxygen-rich blood flowing to the heart and causes it to fail, resulting in a heart attack.
What are the risk factors?
- Excess weight
- Lack of exercise
- Poor diet
- High blood pressure or cholesterol
- Alcohol consumption
- Age (men over 45 and women over 55)
- Family history
- Chronic disease such as diabetes, kidney disease, or lupus
What if I feel healthy now?
Unfortunately, when it comes to CAD, symptoms can go unnoticed for years. By the time they start to show, it can be too late. Oftentimes, the first physical sign is the heart attack itself.
How can I prevent CAD?
A few simple steps taken now can keep your heart beating strong and healthy. The first one is simple – discuss your concerns with your doctor. He or she can check for high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes, and conduct baseline screenings to assess the health of your heart.
What kind of screenings can you do for CAD?
- Stress Echocardiogram – An ultrasound will show how the heart chambers are functioning and reveal any signs of valve leakage, blockage, or other potential problems.
- Carotid Artery Screening – This ultrasound will detect whether there is a dangerous buildup of plaque in the carotid arteries.
- Peripheral Arterial Disease Screening – This test will show if there is a buildup of plaque in the legs, which can be an indicator of CAD.
- Abdominal Aneurysm Screening – This test will indicate any enlargements in the abdominal aorta, which can be a precursor to heart attacks.
- Holter Monitoring – Asmall, portable device worn for 24 hours will uncover arrhythmias and abnormalities that occur during normal daily activities.
- Exercise Treadmill Test – This will show how the heart responds to physical exertion.
Get treated early
The good news is, when caught early, many causes of heart disease are highly treatable. With the right preventive care, you can stay strong and energetic for years to come.