A CHANGE OF HEART
Cardiac Care Starts In Your Cardiologist’s Office
February is American Heart Month and the perfect time to love yourself from the inside out.
Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans. Understanding this troubling statistic means understanding the importance of taking care of your heart. According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease (the combination of both heart disease and stroke) kills more than 2,300 people every day. Even more alarming is that cardiovascular disease is also the number one killer in women, causing one in three deaths each year, or one woman almost every minute. In most cases, women are unaware of problems with their heart. The promising news is heart disease can be prevented.
Did You Know? 83% of Americans believe heart attacks can be prevented but are not motivated to do the work. That’s why you have to start now! Heart disease can start when you’re young, so monitoring conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and lifestyle choices like diet and exercise are important.
It is also important to schedule an appointment or two that could save your life, starting with a visit to a primary care physician for a wellness check-up. This visit will be crucial in determining your heart health. During this visit, you’ll be given some important numbers and learn what each means to your heart, things like good baseline numbers for blood pressure, cholesterol, weight and blood sugar. Your physician will also discuss risk factors that affect your heart health and need to be addressed and possibly refer you to a cardiologist for next steps and action.
If you have never had a cardiology appointment, you’ll want to prepare for your visit. Initially, the cardiologist will want to know about your heart condition, so there’s some homework. Make sure you can provide a list of current medications and dosage information, a list of your current health-care providers, any recent lab results, your complete medical history and your family history, especially related to any heart conditions.
During the visit, the cardiologist will review your medical history and perform an examination, which includes checking your weight and testing for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other risk factors for heart disease. Diagnostics may need to be ordered, such as blood tests, X-rays, a stress test or an electrocardiogram, to ensure the most accurate, complete diagnosis. After reviewing lab results, your cardiologist will create a treatment plan, provide any prescriptions and recommend necessary lifestyle changes. You could also be referred to a cardiovascular surgeon if surgical intervention is needed for a heart or vascular concern. And don’t forget to ask questions. Consider asking your cardiologist about:
• What if my condition worsens? How will I know?
• How do you suggest I start making changes to my diet?
• What other lifestyle changes do you recommend?
• Are there any symptoms I need to be aware of?
It is important to understand what is changing in your body and with your heart while understanding what’s expected and what’s at stake. As your home for heart health, CHRISTUS offers resources to make having a change of heart easy. You can find helpful tips and information at www.christushealth.org, search heart care.