Investing In Good Health
Article by Dr. Rami Neemtallah, Cardiovascular Imaging Specialist Allied Medical Center
Good health is more than a roll of the dice. Taking control of your health and managing some of the key health-risk factors can help you prevent a heart attack or a stroke. Make sure you know the health-risk factors and take the appropriate measures to ensure a healthier lifestyle.
- Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) include Heart diseases and strokes and are the leading cause of death in the world according to the World Health Organization reports.
- 1 in 4 first heart attacks are fatal.
- More than half of the heart attacks occur as the first manifestation of Heart disease without preliminary signs.
- Women are twice as likely to die from a first heart attack as men, and also have a much greater risk of a second heart attack.
What causes Heart Attacks and Strokes?
The mass occurrence of Heart attacks and strokes relate strongly to lifestyles and to modifiable physiological and biochemical factors.
There are 9 key factors out of which 3 are non modifiable risk factors (Increasing age, male gender and family history of CVD _Heredity).
The 6 modifiable key risk factors that are the focus for prevention are:
- Increased blood cholesterol
- Increased blood pressure (Hypertension)
- Cigarette smoking
- Lack of regular physical exercise
How can you prevent a Heart attack or a Stroke?
Prevention can be achieved through 2 steps:
1- Health screening for risk factors and disease – To give individuals specific information regarding their own health and risk factors.
2- Health education – Aimed at helping the individual translate the information which he/she has been given, into sustained and effective action to achieve better health.
New Imaging techniques for screening of CVD
Heart disease is often advanced before the first clinical manifestation therefore the need for non invasive and reliable tests to detect sub clinical (early stage) disease.
Conventional diagnostic tests like the treadmill stress test or echocardiography detect heart disease only at an advanced stage and cannot rule out disease at early stages.
Recently Multislice Computed Tomography (CT Heart scan) has emerged as a very accurate and reliable test to assess for Heart disease. Its advantages over more conventional tests are:
- It is the most accurate non invasive test for CVD diagnosis and assessment.
- It detects disease at an early stage so that preventative measures can be implemented before it is too late
- It can study heart and brain vessels
- It is a quick, painless and non invasive procedure
- It has a low radiation capability
Six Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle
- Don’t smoke cigarettes
- Have your blood pressure checked regularly
- Stay physically active
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
- Read labels to make sure you eat foods low in fats and cholesterol
- Have regular medical checkups
Are you at risk of Heart Attack or Stroke?
Take a few minutes to complete the self assessment below. Tick all the boxes that apply to you.
- AGE. I am a man over 40 years old or a woman over 50 years old.
- FAMILY HISTORY OF HEART DISEASE. My father or brother had a heart attack before age 55; OR my mother or sister had one before age 65.
- HEART DISEASE MEDICAL HISTORY. I have coronary artery disease, OR I’ve had a heart attack or another heart condition(s).
- VASCULAR DISEASE HISTORY. I have been told that I have carotid artery disease; OR I have had a stroke; OR I have a disease of the leg arteries.
- BLOOD PRESSURE. My blood pressure is 140/90 mm Hg or higher, OR a health professional has said my blood pressure is too high, OR I don’t know what my blood pressure is.
- TOBACCO SMOKE. I smoke OR live OR work with people who smoke regularly.
- TOTAL CHOLESTEROL. My total cholesterol is 240 mg/dL or higher, OR I don’t know my level.
- HDL CHOLESTEROL. My HDL (“good”) cholesterol is less than 40 mg/dL OR I don’t know my HDL cholesterol level.
- PHYSICAL ACTIVITY. I get less than a total of 30 minutes of physical activity on most days.
- OVERWEIGHT. I am 9 Kilograms or more overweight for my height and build.
- DIABETES. I have diabetes (a fasting blood sugar of 126 mg/dL or higher), OR I need medicine to control my blood sugar.
If you ticked two or more boxes then you have risk factors which increase the chances of developing cardiovascular disease and you should see a healthcare professional for a complete assessment of your risks.