Cardiovascular or heart health is an important medical topic that should not be taken lightly, but rather seriously. Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women? To put it in perspective, approximately 610,000 people in the United States die from heart disease or heart related issues annually, which equates to one in every four deaths. So, when your doctor recommends certain diagnostic scans such as an echocardiogram, it’s time to get serious about your heart health.
Heart disease is a serious problem in the United States, and a large part of that is due to the obesity epidemic, as well as people being unaware of the warning signs or that anything may be wrong with them. In other words, cardiovascular disease and related complications are a result of many factors, which include being overweight, poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, and other conditions such as diabetes, coronary artery disease (CAD), high blood pressure (hypertension), genetic defects, abnormal heart beat (arrhythmias), etc.
For example, coronary artery disease (CAD), otherwise known as coronary heart disease, ischemic heart disease (IHD), or ischemia, is the most common condition affecting the heart. Arteries are the major blood vessels responsible for supplying the heart with oxygen-rich blood filled with nutrients necessary for the heart muscle to function and pump blood to and from the heart properly. When someone is diagnosed with CAD, this means that cholesterol-deposits called plaque has been building up inside their coronary arteries, a condition called atherosclerosis. This buildup of plaque over long periods of time, causes the arteries to narrow and harden, reducing the flow of the oxygenated blood to the heart. The heart becomes inflamed, damaged, and diseased. If the plaque in the arteries rupture, a large blood clot can form, completely blocking blood flow to the heart, leading to angina (chest pain), a heart attack, or worse…death.
People often don’t know that something is wrong right away, because symptoms may not be present right away to indicate that there is clearly a cardiovascular issue. This can be dangerous, as this may cause a person to not take action for their health and wait too long before it is too late. This is often why heart attacks occur for people who are active and young. Not being educated about the symptoms, risks, and conditions that can affect the heart, is detrimental to your overall health, which is why it is imperative that you do not wait until you feel bad or have complications to see the doctor.
Early diagnosis and treatment can save your life, and may prevent the onset of further health complications. As your heart is the hub of the human body, and what keeps us alive and well, knowing what you can do to keep it healthy will allow yourself to be steps ahead in your care, which has been proven to result in successful outcomes in regard to recovery and treatment. Also, other people will then follow by example and go get checked out after being educated, and made aware of the warning signs, risks, and treatment options available.
An Echocardiogram, also called an ECHO for short, is a minimally-invasive ultrasound of your heart, utilizing ultrasound technology. These sound waves are recorded, and the echoes are converted into live images of the anatomy or structure of your heart. This allows the doctor to get a closer inside look at the heart, its valves, and the four chambers of the heart. An important part of an echocardiogram is to measure the strength and consistency of blood flow in and out of the heart.
This test is done to specifically get an accurate diagnosis or rule out any possible chance that heart disease is present. If you are diagnosed with a heart valve disorder, coronary artery disease, or thickening or enlargement of the heart muscle, your doctor will then give you a detailed explanation of the diagnosis, and prescribe treatment of medications, a good diet, exercise, and surgery, if needed.
To learn more about an echocardiogram, and how it can help save your life from heart disease, call SC Internal Medicine Associates and Rehabilitation at (803) 749-1111 or request an appointment online.