In the hustle of daily life, it’s normal to lose sight of our health and to go long periods of time without gauging our wellness. Fortunately, there are health-related observances to remind us of the importance of self care. February, for example, is American Heart Month.
It’s a month-long observance of heart disease and steps to prevent it. At Premier Medical Group, we’ve outlined a number of ways to manage your risk for heart disease. Scheduling an appointment with a cardiologist is a good first step. Yet, it’s not always clear when we should start seeing one. We’ve got you covered. Here are a few factors to consider.
Cardiologists and Heart Disease
Before we dive in, let’s go over some basics. A cardiologist is a doctor who diagnoses and treats diseases of the cardiovascular system, which includes the heart. Heart disease – such as heart attack, stroke and heart failure – is the leading cause of death in the United States and affects nearly 650,000 Americans. (For comparison, cancer is responsible for roughly 600,000 deaths.) When it comes to heart health, the stakes are high.
Age is a Factor of Heart Disease
Our bodies change with age. And people who are 65 or older are at a greater risk of developing heart disease, according to the National Institute of Aging. In most cases, these changes affect the flow of blood to our hearts. Here are a few bodily changes:
- Over time, fatty deposits can build up in the walls of our arteries
- It’s common for large arteries to stiffen, causing high blood pressure
- Our heart’s electrical system may change, leading to arrhythmia
- And our heart’s chamber walls may get bigger, decreasing the amount of blood it can hold
Although our risk of heart disease rises with age, heart disease also affects young people. As a whole, Americans are suffering fewer heart attacks. Yet, attacks are becoming more frequent among young adults, according to the American College of Cardiology (ACA). In this study, researchers classified heart attack survivors aged 41-50 as “young” and under 40 as “very young.” Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and family history were found to be risk factors.
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute suggests people as young as 20 get tested for heart disease, even if you don’t have any risk factors. Children, on the other hand, may need screening if they have risk factors, including obesity, limited physical activity and a family history of heart issues.
Symptoms of Heart Disease
If you’re experiencing symptoms of heart disease, it’s a good idea to see a cardiologist. Heart disease – specifically, coronary heart disease – is an umbrella term for several coronary events and diseases with their own symptoms. Here’s an summary of those symptoms:
- Cold sweats
- Shortness of breath
- Neck pain
Risk Factors of Heart Disease
Even if we’re not experiencing symptoms, there are factors that increase our risk for heart disease. If these factors apply to you, we suggest you see a cardiologist. These factors include:
- Family history and genetics
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Poor diet
- High levels of stress
We Make it Easy to Book an Appointment
So, when should you start seeing a cardiologist? If you’re experiencing symptoms or at risk due to a number of factors, now’s a good time to schedule an appointment.
To schedule an appointment, call (845) 565-4400.
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
National Institute on Aging
Center for Disease Control
University of Pennsylvania Medicine
Medical News Today
American College of Cardiology