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4 months ago
What Is Heart Screening, and do I need one?

Heart screening is a process of checking the health of your heart and blood vessels to detect any signs of cardiovascular disease, such as coronary artery disease, or heart failure. Heart screening can help you prevent or treat these conditions before they cause serious complications or death.

Everyone’s cardiovascular risk profile is different. It is helpful to know your cardiovascular risk profile because there are ways to manage your risk so that you prevent or delay the onset of cardiovascular disease in the future. High-risk individuals may also develop cardiovascular problems at a younger age, so it is never too early to start screening.

Heart screening will also help you monitor and treat any existing heart problems, and improve your quality of life and survival.

What is done in Heart Screening?

Before investigations are performed, your cardiologist will conduct a clinical evaluation, which includes getting a detailed account of your medical history and a physical examination.

Common tests done to evaluate your current heart function include:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG): This test records the electrical activity of your heart. It can show if your heart is beating normally, or if you have an irregular heartbeat, a heart attack, or other heart problems.

  • Echocardiogram: This test uses sound waves to create an image of your heart. It can show the size, shape, and function of your heart, as well as any problems with your heart valves, chambers, or walls.

  • Stress test: This test measures how your heart works under stress, such as exercise or medication. It can show if your heart gets enough blood and oxygen when it needs it, or if you have any blockages or narrowing in your arteries.

  • CT Coronary Angiogram and Coronary calcium scan: This test uses a special X-ray machine to obtain detailed images of the coronary arteries, and to measure the amount of calcium deposit. This allows for assessment of plaque buildup, which can reduce blood flow and increase your risk of heart attack.

Tests are also done to profile your cardiovascular risk, so that we know how your heart is likely to be performing in the future.

These include:

  • Blood pressure measurement: This test measures the force of your blood against the walls of your arteries. High blood pressure can damage your arteries and increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease.

  • Standard Cholesterol panel: This test measures the levels of different types of fats in your blood, such as LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, and triglycerides. High levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides can clog your arteries and increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. Low levels of HDL cholesterol can also increase your risk of heart disease.

  • Lipoprotein (a): This is an independent risk factor for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and calcific valvular aortic stenosis. It is recommended to be performed at least once in a lifetime.

  • Blood glucose test: This test measures the amount of sugar in your blood. High blood glucose can indicate diabetes, which can damage your blood vessels and increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

This list is not exhaustive, and there may be other diagnostic tests recommended by your cardiologist.

The results of all these investigations take time to report. You will be scheduled to return after 2 to 3 days to go through all the test results. A full report with recommendation will be made available to you.

Summary

Heart screening is recommended for everyone, especially if you have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, family history, age, gender, or ethnicity. Heart screening can help you identify and manage your risk factors, and prevent or delay the onset of cardiovascular disease. Heart screening can also help you monitor and treat any existing heart problems, and improve your quality of life and survival.