You must have heard the saying ‘prevention is better than cure’. With the advancement of medical technology, the field of healthcare has been completely revolutionized. Regular screening and early diagnosis can help prevent cardiovascular diseases and other related complications such as heart failure, end-stage kidney disease, and stroke.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death across the world. It is essential to manage health behavior and risk factors to lower the risk of cardiovascular screening.
Cardiovascular disease is a class of diseases that involve the heart or blood vessels. Common causes include high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol (hyperlipidemia), high sugar (diabetes) and obesity.
The risk factors for heart diseases can be calculated based on the following factors;
Consult your primary care physician to know your risk factors. Your cardiologist or primary care physician may order screening tests during regular visits. The frequency of follow up sessions will depend upon the severity of the condition.
If you have a family history of heart attack, stroke or any other cardiovascular disease or if you have been diagnosed with a cardiovascular condition such as atherosclerosis or atrial fibrillation, you will require additional and more frequent testing and follow up sessions.
Blood pressure is the most common screening exam performed in primary care clinics regularly. It gives important information about the functioning of various organ systems in the body. High blood pressure increases the risk of stroke, cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, and heart attack. Low blood pressure causes fainting, dizziness, and heart and brain damage at critically low levels.
Every individual 18 years old or above should visit a cardiologist or a primary care physician for the regular screening of risk factors of cardiovascular diseases. The risk increases with increasing age and obesity. Patients with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and kidney diseases are at a greater risk for developing cardiovascular diseases and can lead to sudden heart attack and cardiac arrest. So, such individuals need screening exams more often than others. If you experience cardiac pain or pressure over the left side of chest, immediately consult a primary care physician.
Global cardiovascular risk assessment aims to access a patient’s total susceptibility to cardiovascular diseases rather than just accessing the individual risk factors (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity).
The calculation of global cardiovascular assessment can be best made by using the Framingham Risk Score (FRS). The risk factors for asymptomatic individuals can be classified as follows;
The risk of cardiovascular diseases over ten years can be calculated based on age, sex, ethnicity, smoking status, serum high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol level, the pattern of alcohol consumption and systolic blood pressure.
Some additional screening exams may be required for cardiovascular evaluation in moderate to high-risk groups. These screenings tests include resting electrocardiogram, exercise treadmill test, coronary artery calcium store, angiography, cardiac stress imaging, and carotid intima-media thickness test.