Heart diseases refer to any condition that affects the heart. There are many types of heart diseases, some are preventable while some are not. The types of heart conditions include heart Infections, arrhythmia, atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, and congenital heart defects. Recently, Mandira Bedi’s husband Raj Kaushal succumbed to a heart attack which came as a shock as he was all fine and healthy. Heart conditions are extremely serious and often do not give warning signs. Thus, it is very important to get your heart condition checked at regular intervals. In this article, we have listed down major tests for heart health that you must get done.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among the world’s population. To diagnose heart disease, a doctor performs various tests. Early diagnosis and treatment of heart conditions help reduce the risk of complications, like stroke or heart attack.
Common medical tests to diagnose heart conditions
Physical exam and blood tests
As per Sameer Bhati, Director of Star Imaging and Path Lab, your doctor will do some physical tests like heart rate and blood pressure. He will ask about your family’s medical history also. He will also ask you to get some blood tests done like cholesterol screening and CRP (C-reactive Protein) test. They use the results of such tests to evaluate the risk of heart disease.
Non-invasive tests for heart disease
Once you are done with the physical exam and the blood test, your doctor will ask you to get some non-invasive tests done. These are the tests that don’t include tools that are physically inserted in the body. Some of the non-invasive tests for the diagnosis of heart diseases are as follows:
Echocardiogram is an exam that uses sound waves to create images of the heart. The results are used by the doctor to evaluate the heart muscles and heart valves.
An electrocardiogram, also known as ECG. It monitors the electric activity of the heart. The electric activity in the heart is recorded on a sheet of paper and is used by the doctor to check for heart damage or irregularity in the heartbeat.
In a stress test, one is asked to ride a stationary bike or run or walk on a treadmill for a couple of minutes. This is done to examine the body’s reaction to stress while the heart rate increases.
A person is asked to wear a Holter monitor when his/her heart needs to be monitored for a period of 24 to 48 hours. The doctor uses the results to look out for heart abnormalities.
A Chest X-ray creates pictures of the chest and heart using a small amount of radiation. It helps the doctor to determine the cause of chest pain or shortness of breath.
A carotid ultrasound test creates images of the carotid arteries on both sides of the neck using sound waves. The results are used by the doctor to check for plaque in the arteries and to access the risk of stroke.
Cardiac CT scan
In a Cardiac Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan, the person with a heart condition is asked to lie on a table inside a machine. An X-ray tube, present inside the machine, will rotate around the body to collect the images of the heart and chest.
Tilt table test
This test is usually performed when one has fainted suddenly. In this test, the person will have to lie on the table. The table then moves from a horizontal to a vertical position. This test is used to monitor the heart rate, oxygen level and blood pressure, as the table moves. The results determine if the fainting was because of heart disease or any other condition.
During Heart Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), magnets and radio waves are used to create detailed images of the heart and the blood vessels. These images are used o diagnose heart conditions like coronary artery disease (CAD) and heart muscle disease.
Invasive tests for heart disease
Sometimes, the non-invasive tests are not enough to evaluate the condition. At this point in time, your doctor will need to use the results of some invasive tests. Invasive tests are the tests that need tools like a needle, scope or tube to physically enter your body. Following are some invasive tests used for the diagnosis of heart disease:
Coronary angiography and cardiac catheterization
In a cardiac catheterization test, a flexible tube is inserted into a vein or artery in the leg (groin) or other parts of the body. Using X-ray images as a guide on the monitor, the doctor carefully moves this tube towards the heart. This test is conducted to check for heart abnormalities and blood vessel problems and look for narrowed or blocked arteries.
If one is having abnormal heart rhythms, then the doctor can conduct an electrophysiology study to determine the cause of the condition and the best treatment for the same. During this study, the doctor inserts an electrode catheter through the blood vessels to the heart. Doctors do this to send electric signals to the heart and create a map of the electrical activity.
Treatment of heart conditions
The type of treatment totally depends upon the type of heart condition one is suffering from. Generally, the treatment for a heart condition includes:
Lifestyle changes: One can reduce the risks of heart diseases by consuming a low sodium and low-fat diet. Exercising at least 30 minutes a day every day, quitting smoking and drinking alcohol can also help in lowering the risk of heart diseases.
Medications: If only lifestyle changes don’t do the work, then the doctor may prescribe some medications to control the heart condition. The type of medication depends upon the type of heart condition one is going through.
Medical procedure or surgery: If the medications aren’t enough to treat the heart condition, the doctor will most probably recommend a medical procedure or surgery. The type of procedure or surgery will depend upon the type of heart condition of the person and the extent of damage to the heart.
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