February is associated with love, but look beyond candlelit dinners and heart-shaped candy. As the American Heart Association’s Heart Month, It’s also a great time to consider the health of the heart – both for your loved ones and for yourself.
A recent study published by the American Heart Association reports that 48% of American adults have some form of heart disease. Because serious heart conditions can be present without symptoms, a significant number of the population could be completely unaware of poor cardiovascular health or their risk of developing life-threatening disease. Often, the best way to find out about current health and potential risk is through advanced cardiovascular screening.
Cardiovascular Screening Could Save Your Life
“Cardiovascular health is important because cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States,” says Dr. Jack Durham of PartnerMD. It’s also the No. 1 killer of men and women globally. Since 2016, the number of deaths attributed to this disease is on the rise in the United States. Cardiovascular screening can help predict the likelihood of heart attack, stroke and major cardiovascular events before there are symptoms, so you and your doctor can take action to prevent cardiovascular disease and related complications … including death.
Screening vs. Diagnostics
When we talk about cardiovascular screening, it’s important to first clarify the difference between diagnostic tests and screening. A screening is more of a broad overview. Imagine a sailor scanning the horizon – that’s a screening. If the sailor notices something that looks out of the ordinary, it’s time for a diagnostic test. Was that an island in the distance or a ship? Was that glint of light a wave or a lighthouse? Imagine the diagnostic test as the spyglass that helps the sailor take a closer look and determine exactly what it was that seemed out of place.
If you’re already having symptoms of heart disease, you and your doctor have already noticed that something seems out of the ordinary. Diagnostic tests help the physician to rule out some possible causes and dial in on the root causes, determine how far the disease has progressed, and recommend a treatment plan that is likely to deliver a positive outcome.
Screening takes place when no evidence or symptoms of disease are present, but there are enough risk factors to make the tests a good idea. When interpreted by a trained physician and applied to each patient within the context of their physiology and lifestyle, the result of screening is a custom prevention plan. A prevention plan focuses on overall health and wellness and is designed to stabilize or improve cardiovascular health while lowering the likelihood of heart attack or stroke in the future.
Does Everyone Need Advanced Cardiovascular Screening?
Advanced screening, which typically includes EKG, advanced cardio profile and cholesterol/lipids, CT heart scan, ApoE genetic marker evaluation and vascular view tests is not always necessary.
“My recommendation is to target those at the highest risk – the people who have family history of premature heart disease and people with multiple risk factors of cardiovascular disease, whether that’s diabetes, hypertension, smoking, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, etc.,” Durham says. Your personal risk factors will help your doctor determine which advanced cardiovascular screenings make the most sense for you.
This February, when you’re thinking about scheduling a romantic dinner date, also make a quick call to schedule a checkup for your loved ones and yourself. At PartnerMD, the most advanced physicals, remarkable access to physicians, and support from a health coach create a powerful combination to preventing cardiovascular disease.