Prevention And Screening Of Coronary Heart Disease

Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease

You should start getting screening tests and risk assessments for coronary heart disease around age 20 if you do not have any risk factors for coronary heart disease. Children may need screening if they have risk factors, such as obesity, low levels of physical activity, or a family history of heart problems.

Afterward, your doctor may recommend preventive treatments such as heart-healthy lifestyle changes to help you lower your risk of coronary heart disease.

Screening tests and results

- Coronary Heart Disease - Screening and Prevention

To screen for coronary heart disease, your doctor will:

  • Assess risk factors to help evaluate your risk of developing coronary heart disease
  • Check blood pressure readings to see whether you have high blood pressure
  • Calculate your body mass index and waist circumference to see whether you have an unhealthy weight
  • Order blood tests to see whether you have high blood cholesterol, high blood triglycerides, or diabetes

Screening usually occurs in a doctor's office, but sometimes screenings are done at health fairs, drugstores, or other places. Blood samples might be collected at your doctor's office, a hospital, or a laboratory.

Ask your doctor or nurse whether you need to fast (not eat or drink anything besides water) before the blood tests.

Risk calculators

- Coronary Heart Disease - Screening and Prevention

Your doctor may use a risk calculator to estimate your risk of having a heart attack, having a stroke, or dying from a heart or blood vessel disease in the next 10 years or throughout your lifetime.

For example, the Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease (ASCVD) Estimator considers your cholesterol levels, age, sex, race, and blood pressure. It also factors in whether you smoke or take medicines to manage your high blood pressure or cholesterol.

Ask about your risk during your annual check-up. Knowing your risk will help you and your doctor decide on healthy lifestyle changes and possibly medicines to lower your risk.

Risk assessments should be repeated every 4 to 6 years in adults 20 to 79 years of age who do not have heart or blood vessel disease.

No single risk calculator is appropriate for all people. Calculators can give you and your doctor a good idea about your risk, but your doctor might have to consider other factors to estimate your risk more accurately.

Commonly used risk calculators might not accurately estimate risk in certain situations, such as if you:

  • Are an ethnic minority, such as South Asian
  • A woman who has had complications during pregnancy or had early menopause. Your risk might be higher than predicted by the ASCVD Risk Estimator.
  • Have metabolic syndrome or an inflammatory or autoimmune condition
  • Have a family history of heart or blood vessel disease at a young age
  • Take a statin to manage your cholesterol levels

In these cases, your doctor may suggest other tests for coronary heart disease even if the ASCVD Risk Estimator says you are not at high risk.

How to prevent coronary heart disease

- Coronary Heart Disease - Screening and Prevention

Studies show that heart-healthy living—never smoking, eating healthy, and being physically active—throughout life can prevent coronary heart disease and its complications.

Work with your doctor to set up a plan that works for you based on your lifestyle, your home and neighborhood environments, and your culture. Working with a team of healthcare providers may help with making changes in your diet, being physically active, managing other medical conditions, and helping you quit smoking.

Source Agency: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)

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