Heart diseases: types and risk factors
Cardiovascular health: habits and lifestyles
Complete cardiac screening: the exams
The cardiological visit
Laboratory tests
The electrocardiogram (ECG)
The stress test
Cardiac ecocolordoppler
A treatment based on prevention
For many of us, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a commitment. Some respect it consistently, others still try to pursue it as best as possible. Probably, however, at the basis of our intentions, there is a shared desire: to improve our appearance and our life. So we play sports and undergo slimming diets, sometimes forgetting that a winning balance must also include a periodic screening of heart function. Especially after a certain age threshold and in the presence of certain physical conditions, it is necessary to undergo specific tests for the heart; in this regard, medical research offers us numerous therapeutic options. So let’s take a look at the best choices to keep our hearts healthy.
Among the pathologies affecting the heart, we find that many inevitably have an impact on our circulatory system; for this reason, it is more commonly referred to as cardiovascular disease.
For decades at the center of scientific interest, due to their massive incidence in industrialized countries, they are caused only minimally by hereditary factors. In general, their impact could be progressively reduced if all of us, at any age, adopted the preventive measures disseminated globally by bodies such as the WHO and, by the Ministry of Health.
Starting from hypertension (which afflicts about 15 million Italians) to reach cigarette smoking, age, and diabetes, there are various risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Among these, some concern the circulatory system (such as stroke, aneurysm, and peripheral vascular diseases) while others affect the heart more closely, such as pericarditis, valvulopathies, and heart attack. Except for genetic and degenerative diseases, almost all the others are attributable to incorrect eating habits and lifestyles that increase cardiovascular risks, such as smoking and a sedentary lifestyle.
How can we, in everyday life, counter cardiovascular risk and improve our general health? By adopting good habits, of course: avoiding smoking, practicing regular physical activity regularly, and reducing the consumption of alcohol, fats, and sugars help us, in practice, to prevent the onset of many diseases.
However, heart tests also play a crucial role in the fight against cardiovascular disease. In particular:
a monitoring therapeutic clinical iter;
adherence to cardiac screening programs for the early diagnosis of heart disease;
At the outset, it is also advisable to carry out a recurring cardiological check-up. Let’s see together what tests it consists of.
As we have anticipated, screening is a real specific prevention process to assess the risk of contracting heart disease in men and women over 45 years of age; consisting of a series of specific tests for the heart, it is generally carried out with a frequency that varies according to whether the subjects are also smokers, overweight or hypertensive.
Usually performed in the day-hospital formula, this check-up does not require any particular preparation, other than fasting given the blood sampling. The package of exams provided has the preliminary purpose of verifying the functionality of the cardio-circulatory system, therefore it is suitable both for patients who already suffer from heart diseases and for those who intend to carry out a preventive check in the absence of manifest disorders.
Here’s what cardiac screening usually consists of:
It is mainly used to have a general view of the patient’s health conditions since it allows to identify, even before the electrocardiogram, any heart murmurs or cardiac arrhythmias. In addition to performing the thoracic auscultation, in this phase the cardiologist checks that parameters such as the maximum and minimum arterial pressure are within the normal range, through the appropriate meter.
Especially useful for monitoring the state of health of patients with already diagnosed cardiac disorders.
In addition to isolating any discrepancies in the heart rhythm, the function of the electrocardiogram is to graphically trace cardiac activity through electrodes positioned at the extremities of the body and on the chest. A normal outcome generally excludes the risk of diseases such as arrhythmias and fibrillation.
Combined with the electrocardiogram we often find a physical test that consists of walking on a specific treadmill or pedaling on a particular stationary bike while wearing the electrodes, to monitor the response of the heart to an average prolonged physical effort.
If the cardiological examination has identified the presence of a respiratory difficulty such as a murmur or dyspnea, the echocardiogram is the examination that, through a special ultrasound probe, investigates the state of the cardiac musculature and describes the level of risk of the patient concerning possible heart failure.
Like muscle function, our blood flow can also be analyzed in detail and in a non-invasive way, thanks to the ultrasound technique of ecocolordoppler. Although the exam lasts a few minutes, it provides a full spectrum of the distribution and velocity of blood flow in both aortic and venous cavities.
As a rule, all cardiological screening services are provided by specialists under the direct supervision of the cardiologist who, if necessary, can suggest to the patient to investigate the values ​​that are not normal.
We, therefore, tried to explain how to undertake a healthy lifestyle and carry out periodic check-ups is the optimal combination to reduce the incidence of heart diseases.
Finally, from angiography to phlebography, there are numerous exams that the cardiologist could prescribe to further investigate the results of the cardiological visit. This is the case of Family Protection, the Medicare policy, which offers the guarantee of all-around prevention against cardiovascular risk.
Tell us your experience: have you ever performed a complete cardiological check-up?