How is heart disease diagnosed?
Heart disease or coronary heart sickness is one of the common causes of death in Malaysia. Heart disease or known as a heart attack or coronary heart disease is a condition where the blood vessels supplying your heart are blocked. The blood vessels supplying your heart are small, hence small block may cause serious problems and lead to death. Treatments for heart diseases are available to help you recover and to prevent any complications following heart disease.
Diagnosis of heart disease or any other diseases depends on the findings from history taking, physical examination, and investigations. Analysis of signs and symptoms from history taking and physical examination is very important before a list of specific investigations can be ordered. The signs and symptoms of heart disease are:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Increased jugular venous pressure
- Swollen limbs or peripheries
- Abnormal heart sound
The investigations to confirm the diagnosis of heart disease is:
- ECG and ECG stress test
- Blood studies like cholesterol level and cardiac biomarkers test
- Chest x-ray
- Cardiac angiography
A high level of cholesterol in your blood will result in fat plaque formation within the blood vessels of the heart. This plaque will cause a partial blockage. Later, the plaque will burst and the body will wrongly interpret that as internal bleeding and will start forming large plaque. A bigger plaque will cause complete blockage and the heart will slowly die and fails.
The more risk factors, the higher the percentage of a person to suffer from certain illnesses. There are two types of risk factors which are modifiable risk factors and non-modifiable risk factors. Modifiable risk factors are something you can intervene and alter for betterment, while non-modifiable risk factors are factors you can’t do anything to change them.
The threat factors for heart disease are:
- Obesity or overweight
- Family history
- High-fat diet
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Stressful life
- Unbalanced diet
Males are at higher risk to suffer coronary heart sickness compared to females because of hormonal factors. Higher estrogen in women has a protective effect. However, after menopause, the risk to develop coronary heart disease is equal in both genders.
Coronary heart disease is also a long term complication of diabetes. Poor blood sugar control among diabetic patients will induce fat deposition within arteries. This includes the coronary arteries that supply the heart.
Smoking is one of the threat factors because this bad habit will cause the blood of a smoker to become thicker. The blood becomes thicker as the red blood cells of a smoker are beyond the normal range to help to supply body cells with adequate oxygen. Oxygen intake is lower during smoking while carbon monoxide production within the smoker’s body is super high. This triggers more production of red blood cells to wash out the carbon monoxide and to bring in more oxygen. Thick blood will cause blockage and heart attack is one of the complications.
If you manage to modify the threat factors, the probability for you to suffer from heart disease will be lesser. The followings are the ways to reduce the risk of heart disease:
- Regular exercise
- Low salt and sugar diet
- Healthy and balanced diet
- Stop smoking