Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women and has been for quite some time. Our heart health is undoubtedly, vitally important. However, we don’t have the same guidelines for checking up on our hearts as we do for say a colonoscopy or mammogram. Instead, we often don’t give it much consideration until signs of a problem begin to emerge. Being aware of these signs and when a cardiologist should be consulted is key in preventing life-threatening cardiovascular disease.
Health Conditions that Affect Heart Health
When a patient is diagnosed with certain health conditions, heart health becomes an immediate concern and a cardiologist becomes a crucial member of their healthcare team. These include:
- High Blood Pressure – Blood pressure measures the force with which blood flows through a person’s arteries. It is measured by taking both the pressure during (systolic) and between (diastolic) beats. When these numbers get too high, it means that too much force is being exerted on the artery walls, weakening them and increasing the risk of stroke and heart disease.
- High Cholesterol – The body has both good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol. When the bad cholesterol overwhelms the good, it can begin to accumulate in the arteries and inhibit blood flow. This puts patients at high risk of major cardiac events, including heart attack and stroke.
- Diabetes – Diabetes requires meticulous management to safeguard health and prevent the many potential complications. While the risk of heart disease is 2-4 times higher for diabetic patients than the general population, it is fortunately a risk that can be mitigated with proper care.
Signs that You May have a Heart Problem
In addition to the above health conditions, there other symptoms one can experience that may indicate a problem with heart health. These include:
- Heart Palpitations – Palpitations are sensations of the heart beating too fast, too slowly, or skipping a beat. It can feel like the heart is fluttering, thumping, or racing. The explanations behind palpitations can be quite benign and the instances isolated. However, these sensations should always be evaluated, as they can also indicate a more serious heart condition.
- Chest Pain or Discomfort – Chest pain or angina is the hallmark symptom of heart problems that we often see portrayed. While it is possible to experience an event like a heart attack without the presence of chest pain, it is a strong indicator that a problem may exist and requires immediate medical attention.
- Swelling in the Lower Extremities – Peripheral artery disease is a condition in which the blood vessels of the lower extremities (primarily the legs) become blocked or narrowed, making it difficult for blood to flow through them as it normally would. Swelling in the legs is a key indicator of this condition which carries a greatly heightened risk of heart complications.
- Feeling Faint or Short of Breath – These symptoms can be the result of cardiovascular conditions like low blood pressure or arrhythmia. If you are experiencing these symptoms on more than a fleeting basis, it is important to have them checked out and rule out any heart-related issues.
Heart Care at Lane
Lane Regional Medical Center in Zachary has partnered with Cardiovascular Institute of the South to bring patients a state-of-the-art cardiovascular facility with skilled and renowned cardiologists. If you have been diagnosed with a heart-related condition or are experiencing any signs of a cardiovascular problem, contact us to learn more.