Friday , July 19 2024

Do you know your Heart Health?

Every day your heart beats approximately 100,000 times, sending 2,000 gallons of blood surging through your body. Although it’s no bigger than your fist, your heart has the mighty job of keeping blood flowing through the 60,000 miles of blood vessels that feed your organs and tissues. Keeping your heart healthy and functioning normally is vital to your day to day energy, vitality, and longevity.
Determining Heart Health:
Measuring Heart Health involves a complex array of testing.  What we know without a doubt is that age is one of the primary risk factors for developing heart disease.  It becomes ever more important to have heart health screenings on a regular basis after the age of 45.  Your primary care physician will use several tests and measurements to determine and monitor your heart health.   Each of these tests provide important information about heart function and your doctor can determine which are most important for you. These tests can include:
Lipid Profile
Lipid profiles are blood tests that measure the total cholesterol and triglyceride level of an individual. Knowing your cholesterol levels is an essential part of understanding your own risk for heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends that everyone over age 20 get a cholesterol test.
The desired values in most healthy adults are:
• LDL cholesterol: lower than 130 mg/dL (lower numbers are desired)
• HDL cholesterol: greater than 40 – 60 mg/dL (higher numbers are desired)
• Total cholesterol: less than 200 mg/dL (lower numbers are desired)
• Triglycerides: 10 – 150 mg/dL (lower numbers are desired)
• VLDL: 2 – 30 mg/dL
Blood Pressure:
72 million Americans (approximately 1 in 3 adults) have high blood pressure. Because high blood pressure doesn’t have any direct and noticeable symptoms, many don’t even realize that they have this deadly disease. It is why doctors called it the “Silent Killer”.  High Blood Pressure is a deadly disease that adds to the workload of your heart, arteries, kidney and other sensitive organs. High Blood Pressure increases the risk of stroke, congestive heart failure, kidney failure and heart attack.
What is the AHA recommendation for healthy
blood pressure?
This chart below reflects blood pressure categories defined by the American Heart Association.
Stress Test
Stress testing provides information about how your heart works during physical stress. Some heart problems are easier to diagnose when your heart is beating faster.
During stress testing, you exercise (walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike) to increase your heart rate. Tests are done on your heart while you exercise.
A stress test can detect the following problems, which may suggest that your heart isn’t getting enough blood during exercise:
• Abnormal changes in your heart rate or blood pressure
• Symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pain, especially if they occur at low levels of exercise
• Abnormal changes in your heart’s rhythm or electrical activity
An echocardiogram (also called an echo) is a type of ultrasound test that uses high-pitched sound waves that are sent through a device called a transducer. The device picks up echoes of the sound waves as they bounce off the different parts of your heart. These echoes are turned into moving pictures of your heart that can be seen on a video screen.
• Look for the cause of abnormal heart sounds (murmurs or clicks), an enlarged heart, unexplained chest pains, shortness of breath, or irregular heartbeats.
• Check the thickness and movement of the heart wall.
• Look at the heart valves and check how well they work.
• See how well an artificial heart valve is working.
• Measure the size and shape of the heart’s chambers.
• Check the ability of your heart chambers to pump blood (cardiac performance). During an echocardiogram, your doctor can calculate how much blood your heart is pumping during each heartbeat (ejection fraction). You might have a low ejection fraction if you have heart failure.
• Detect a disease that affects the heart muscle and the way it pumps, such as cardiomyopathy.
• Look for blood clots and tumors inside the heart.
An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is a test that checks for problems with the electrical activity of your heart. An EKG translates the heart’s electrical activity into line tracings on paper. The spikes and dips in the line tracings are called waves.
The heart is a muscular pump made up of four chambers. The two upper chambers are called atria, and the two lower chambers are called ventricles. A natural electrical system causes the heart muscle to contract and pump blood through the heart to the lungs and the rest of the body.
Why It Is Done
An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is done to:
• Check the heart’s electrical activity.
• Find the cause of unexplained chest pain, which could be caused by a heart attack, inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart (pericarditis), or angina.
• Find the cause of symptoms of heart disease, such as shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting, or rapid, irregular heartbeats (palpitations).
• Find out if the walls of the heart chambers are too thick (hypertrophied).
• Check how well medicines are working and whether they are causing side effects that affect the heart.
• Check how well mechanical devices that are implanted in the heart, such as pacemakers, are working to control a normal heartbeat.
• Check the health of the heart when other diseases or conditions are present, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cigarette smoking, diabetes, or a family history of early heart disease.
Dr. Vallabhan

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