Heart & Cardiac Screenings
A heart screening is the first step in evaluating a patient’s overall cardiovascular health. Early detection of cardiovascular health concerns is vital. The American Heart Association recommends beginning regular screenings at age 20, with follow-up screenings being scheduled according to the patient’s individual results. An initial cardiac screening typically includes identifying risks factors, a brief physical examination and several key screening tests.
Identifying relevant risks factors for cardiovascular disease is one area where you, the patient, play a fundamental role. To correctly assess your individual risk factors, Dr. Alonso will need you to provide accurate information regarding your medical history, your familial medical history and your lifestyle, past and present. The doctor has no way of obtaining this valuable data without your participation. This means you will need to do some “homework” before your scheduled appointment.
Prior to the date of your appointment, collect and organize as much helpful information as possible. You may want to request and forward, in advance, copies of any relevant medical records or tests results from other physicians. If not, begin creating your own list of pertinent data. Try to be as accurate as possible including symptoms, test results, diagnosis, treatments, medications and so forth. Provide dates or an estimated timeline for these occurrences, also. Creating a written record will help ensure that significant information is not omitted during your conversation with Dr. Alonso.
In addition, you will need to provide information regarding any family members that have had cardiovascular conditions. The most important medical information would be that of your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles and your siblings. The medical histories of your “third cousins, twice-removed” are not really relevant.
To successfully identify and evaluate your personal cardiovascular disease risk factors you will need to be forthcoming and completely honest about your personal life. Your lifestyle and habits affect your health to a great extent. Physical activity, work history, sleep patterns, dietary choices, tobacco use, drug use and alcohol consumption are some of the personal risk factors you should be prepared to discuss. Your stress level and stress management skills are important factors, also. There’s no need to be nervous or embarrassed when sharing this information with Dr. Alonso. He is here to help you, not to pass judgment.
During a brief physical exam your age, weight, height, ethnicity and gender will be noted. Using a stethoscope, the doctor will listen to your heart and lungs. Additionally, he will be observant of any visible physical indicators of cardiovascular disease.
Blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol and c-reactive protein tests are typical for an initial heart screening. An endo-PAT test may be conducted, also. High blood pressure greatly increases the risk of heart disease. A high fasting blood glucose level may indicate diabetes which is a primary cardiac risk factor. High cholesterol and triglyceride levels can lead to cardiovascular disease. Elevated c-reactive protein (CRP) levels indicate infection and inflammation. High-sensitivity CRP (hs-CRP) tests detect high normal levels of CRP which are predictive of future cardiovascular disease.