How do you know if you have a heart problem? Often it’s only after a heart attack or stroke that doctors pick up a problem with your heart. So is it worth getting your heart checked on a regular basis – and if so, when should you start? In this article below, we quizzed Dr Andrew Vanezis, a distinguished interventional cardiologist, about just that.
Who is heart screening currently offered to?
Heart screening is currently offered as part of the NHS Health Check. This is offered to people between the ages of between 40 and 74 who do not already have heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease or high blood pressure.
Screening mainly focuses on assessing a person’s risk of developing coronary heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the UK. It’s especially important that you are screened if:
- you have an inherited heart problems
- you have a poor or very unhealthy diet
- you smoke
- you rarely or never exercise
- you have a high body mass index (BMI)
- you have an increase in blood pressure or a high blood pressure, total cholesterol or blood glucose.
What does heart screening involve?
The standard basic tests for heart screening are:
- blood tests to check for high cholesterol and blood glucose levels
- blood pressure check
- resting electrocardiogram
- exercise electrocardiogram
What are the advantages of screening early?
The advantages of early screening is that it is an important aspect of lowering and managing any risks of health issues and risk factors, such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and any other aspects to health problems. If you screen early, you can be diagnosed and treated earlier.
What changes would you recommend in how we screen the population?
I think that we should focus on creating more awareness into inherited health problems and other silent killers with no obvious symptoms. This is why screening early and often is so important – otherwise people have no idea they have these conditions.
It is possible to book a private screening with a number of clinics around the country. Many of these clinics can screen patients who are not eligible for the NHS health check.
Some of my patients ask about the cost of screening. I would say that ultimately the cost is affordable. Screening is generally only required once every three to five years providing the results are good. If you can afford a holiday abroad, you can afford to undergo screening – it could make all the difference.
If you would like to book an appointment with Dr Andrew Vanezis today, visit his Top Doctors profile.