From state-of-the-art echo tables to machines that can track the movement of individual blood cells, heart disease is becoming more and more easy to diagnose early and treat.
Recent developments in understanding the mechanisms of cardiovascular disease provide doctors insight into vital tests that can delay the spread of the disease. Early detection is vital in order to prevent the disease from advancing to late stages, in which the patient will experience shortness of breath, accelerated heart rate, fatigue, and lung congestion resulting from heart failure. For many, early detection means the difference between a long life or an abrupt and painful end.
More obvious symptoms of cardiovascular disease develop after the disease begins wreaking havoc on the body. Luckily, doctors can now use tests to diagnose atherosclerosis, the hardening and narrowing of heart arteries, years before symptoms cause obvious health problems. A CT scan detects calcified plaque in the arteries, and a CT angiogram can then use X-Rays to provide detailed pictures of the heart to observe early warning signs of cardiovascular abnormalities.
People with elevated levels of cholesterol or high blood pressure benefit from calcium scans, the purpose of which is to prevent the development of cardiovascular disease later in life. Such health-screening tests have a significant impact on patient treatment and outcome. In order to stay healthy and aware of any developing problems, doctors can perform the tests to diagnose conditions prevalent in heart disease patients including:
- Blood Pressure: High blood pressure is directly linked to higher instances of heart attack and cardiovascular illness.
- Cholesterol: Excess amounts of cholesterol in your body build up in your blood, clogging the walls of your arteries and preventing blood flow.
- Weight: Studies show that weigh loss in obese populations restored overall heart health in four functions: blood pumping effectively, the tissues ability to relax and the thickness of heart muscle and carotid artery walls.
- Blood Sugar: People with diabetes are twice as likely to die from heart disease, which results from high blood glucose levels that damage arteries.
Risk Factors and Treatments
About 47% of sudden cardiac deaths occur outside a hospital. This suggests that many people with heart disease don’t act on early warning signs. In fact, most risk factors for this disease are environmental and can be controlled or eliminated with proper intervention. Risk factors for heart disease include:
- High blood pressure
- High Cholesterol
- Family History
The impact of behaviors such as unhealthy eating, inactivity and smoking are the root causes of many chronic diseases that destroy people's lives. In fact, many studies demonstrate that lifestyle affects cardiovascular health even more than genetic predispositions to chronic diseases. Incorporating healthy eating habits including food low in trans fats, sodium and alcohol will have a substantial impact in reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Sometimes lifestyle changes aren’t adequate, which is where modern medicine plays a crucial role in treatment. Different medications treat heart disease according to the severity of the condition. Anticoagulants thin the blood and are used to prevent blood clots from forming and causing more severe problems. ACE inhibitors expand blood vessels, allowing the blood to flow more easily after being diagnosed with high blood pressure or heart failure. Beta-blockers impede certain chemicals from stimulating the heart, and are commonly prescribed after one has suffered from a heart attack, heart failure, arrhythmias, or high blood pressure.