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Cardiovascular Consultation

Cardiovascular Consultation :

Cardiovascular consultation is a very important aspect of medical treatment. It is an opportunity for patients to discuss their cardiac problems, current complaints, understand the risks and complications, and to adopt healthy lifestyle habits. It also helps in better understanding the treatment methods and surgery procedure, pre- and post- operative preparations, risks, and complications of the surgery.

During the cardiac consultation, your doctor will evaluate past medical history, perform thorough physical examination and tests to assess the risk of developing heart diseases. Early diagnosis may have a better prognosis and minimize the complications.

How to get prepared for the cardiovascular consultation?

Ensure you are well prepared for the consultation with your physician.

  •  Carry all necessary medical records for the discussion. It helps in better understanding about your heart condition and avoids repetition of diagnostic tests
  •  Make sure you discuss about your past medical history, surgical history, family history, and medications that you are taking
  •  Discuss about your lifestyle habits, dietary habits and also about your profession. Your lifestyle and nature of job may be associated with risk for cardiac diseases

Some of the cardiac diagnostic tests that are performed to determine heart disease include:

  • Cardiac angiography : It is commonly done for patients who have signs of coronary artery disease. This test uses X-ray images to examine the blood vessels or chambers of the heart for plaque deposition or other problems. In this test, a catheter is inserted into the blood vessels in the upper thigh or arm and pushed to heart. A contrast dye is then injected into the blood to make the arteries visible. When the dye flows through the arteries the X-ray images are captured.

  • Echocardiography : It uses sound waves to create images of the heart. The images determine the size of the heart, strength of the heart muscles, presence of heart diseases, and heart valve malfunctions. The images of the heart are shown on the large screen monitor that allows the doctor and the patient to view during examination.

  • Stress testing :It is a diagnostic test to determine the functioning of the heart under stress and ability to withstand. You will be asked to perform treadmill during which physician will perform echocardiogram and measures blood pressure changes. It is mainly done to detect the cause of chest pain, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, or fluttering in the chest

  • Electrocardiogram :In echocardiogram (ECG or EKG), the electrodes are placed on your upper body and legs which captures electrical signals of your heart. This test determines functioning of heart, rate of heart beat, irregularities in rhythm, and also identifies if the heart is enlarged or damaged. It is done in patients who complaint of chest pain, palpitations, dizziness, and shortness of breath.

Once the results are obtained your cardiologist will design a plan for further evaluation or provide treatment. Your doctor may also suggest lifestyle modifications such as losing weight, increase physical activities, avoid smoking and chronic alcoholism and may also suggest cholesterol reducing medications. If you are diagnosed with coronary artery disease during the scanning, then your cardiologist will suggest for coronary revascularization through angioplasty with or without stenting or coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG). These surgeries will lower the cardiac risk such as myocardial infarction or death.

Smoking is a major risk for several diseases including heart disease, stroke, and several cancers. Even low-tar cigarettes and light smoking can increase the risk of heart disease substantially. There are now several alternative approaches to helping people stop smoking. These include nicotine-replacement patches and gum as well as oral medication.

If you are able to stop smoking, your risk of a heart attack or stroke decreases within a few weeks. The risk goes down to that of a nonsmoker within about 2 years. In addition, a lot of patients comment that they feel healthier and have more energy after they've stopped smoking.

Hypothyroidism can increase blood cholesterol levels and that contributes to heart disease; however, if the hypothyroidism is being treated with a thyroid hormone, then the cholesterol returns to normal.

Birth control pills can cause a small increase in the risk of thrombosis and heart attack. That occurs mainly in people who have been on the pill for more than 10 years and who smoke cigarettes.

There is an increase in the risk of heart attack if a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) has had a heart attack or stroke. That is mainly seen when the relative has had a heart attack before the age of 45 if they are male, 55 if they are female. Obviously, you cannot change your family history, but a positive history should suggest the need to improve all the other risk factors like stopping smoking and decreasing cholesterol.

Heart disease is potentially reversible by attending to risk factors like cholesterol, blood pressure, and smoking. Several studies have shown, for example, that aggressive lowering of blood cholesterol with LDL levels below 100 can open up blocked coronary arteries at least partially. Perhaps I should explain that LDL cholesterol is the "bad" cholesterol component.

I would suggest a diet that is balanced among all the main food groups, with fat content making up no more than 30 percent of calories and most of that fat being unsaturated. I would not advise patients to eat a diet that is restricted in carbohydrates or fruits and vegetables, because this may adversely affect vitamin intake and blood cholesterol.

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