Our Comprehensive Campaign To Prevent and Treat HEART DISEASE
To prevent, detect and treat America’s #1 killer, physicians use a full range of technology and other resources to provide comprehensive care at three different levels.
Level 1: Detection and Prevention Let’s start with the basics. The first step in the fight against heart disease is to see your primary care physician for a complete physical exam. During your visit, your doctor will check all the factors that put you at risk for heart disease, including your blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol level. If this is your first visit, your doctor will also ask questions about your family’s medical history and whether you have family members who have had heart disease. Other factors, such as your weight, your exercise habits and whether or not you smoke, will also be considered to determine your overall risk for heart disease.
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Level 2: Additional Testing So you’ve completed your physical exam. If your doctor says your heart is doing fine, that’s great news. In many cases, however, there may be some factors that are putting you at greater risk for heart disease. Additional testing may be recommended. Here are some of the diagnostic tools your doctor may consider.
Stress Test: Sometimes called a treadmill test or exercise test, a stress test is the most traditional diagnostic tool used to detect heart disease. It begins with placing electrodes on your chest and arms. You’ll then be asked to walk on a treadmill, set at a slight tilt. You’ll begin slowly at first and then gradually increase your speed. During the test, your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing are constantly monitored, and an EKG measures your heart waves. In some cases, you’ll be asked to breathe into a mouthpiece. In the past few years, some new tests have been developed to detect heart disease.
Coronary Calcium Scan: This non-invasive outpatient procedure checks for calcium deposits that can block the coronary arteries, which supply the heart with oxygen. This test is often recommended if you have an intermediate risk of heart disease.
Ultrasound of the Carotid Artery: The carotid artery is the main blood vessel supplying oxygen to the brain. Higher levels of plaque in this artery are a signal you have an increased risk for a heart attack or stroke.
Testing for Bad Cholesterol: This test takes a closer look at the LDL, the bad cholesterol in your blood. In particular, it checks the size of your LDL particles. Smaller LDL particles are more likely to cause plaque, the fatty deposits that can build up over time and clog your arteries.
Level 3: Diagnostic and Corrective Surgery Sometimes surgery may be required to determine if you have heart disease.
For example, a Cardiac Catheterization is used to determine if your coronaryarteries are partially blocked. This diagnostic procedure is performed at a Cardiac Catheterization Lab (Cath Lab). A catheter (a small hollow tube, no more than 1/8” in diameter) is gently inserted into the blood vessels that feed the heart. A special dye is then injected into the arteries. This dye allows physicians to use X-rays to pinpoint the size and location of any plaque deposits. This procedure can also be used to check blood flow and pressure in the chambers of the heart.
If heart disease is diagnosed and corrective surgery is needed, a Cath Lab offers a number of treatment capabilities. For example, an Angioplasty can be effective in opening up the coronary arteries. With this procedure, a small balloon is inserted into the artery with a catheter, then inflated. The pressure from the balloon forces the plaque to the side of the artery. A small wire tube called a stent is then placed in the artery to keep it open. Other treatment procedures available at a Cath Lab may include:
Peripheral Angioplasty: Examines arteries in the legs and other parts of the body to diagnose and treat hardening and narrowing of the arteries.
Atherectomy: Used to remove plaque from a blocked heart artery. Words: 693