What is preventive cardiology?
Preventive cardiology is the set of measures that tend to protect the person from the possibility of suffering from a specific medical pathology.
Two types of preventive cardiology can be distinguished depending on the approach and the treatments that are performed:
Primary prevention: refers to the series of tests and advice to avoid the appearance of diseases or heart problems.
Secondary prevention: when there are already heart problems, and certain medical or even surgical guidelines would be used, such as coronary bypass surgery , to improve quality and survival.
Why is it done?
The high incidence and high mortality from diseases such as ischemic heart disease have been raising awareness in society to carry out prevention, awareness and awareness campaigns. The objective of preventive cardiology is to try to avoid and combat the main cardiovascular risk factors :
Obesity : Obesity is a risk factor for numerous cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
Diabetes : In patients with diabetes, glucose rises in the blood, deteriorating blood vessels and accelerating arteriosclerosis , being a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
Smoking : according to data from the Spanish Heart Foundation, the risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease is 3 times higher in smokers.
Arterial hypertension : the disease caused by high blood pressure levels is considered one of the main health problems in developed countries. It is asymptomatic and should be detected and controlled.
Sedentary lifestyle: lifestyles lacking in physical activity are also detrimental to cardiovascular health, since they lead to obesity. Instead, doing exercise and eat a healthy food or follow healthy diet.
Hypercholesterolemia : people who normally have high cholesterol have double the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially heart attack and arteriosclerosis.
What does it consist of?
Preventive cardiology consists of a follow-up carried out by the cardiologist with patients who, for whatever reason, present a risk of suffering from cardiovascular problems or who already suffer from them. Follow-up is carried out through a succession of consultations, as well as diagnostic and preventive tests and treatments. The most common measures in preventive cardiology:
Electrocardiogram : it is the most frequently used test in Cardiology, through which the activity of the heart is recorded and problems such as arrhythmias can be detected.
Holter blood pressure : the diagnostic test par excellence for patients with hypertension or sudden changes in blood pressure. It is used to control the rises and falls in pressure, find the causes and remedy them.
Echocardiogram : through the non-invasive ultrasound system, it allows the specialist to observe the thorax and the functioning of the heart.
Stress test : This test, also very common in sports cardiology , looks at the activity of the heart, lungs, and metabolism when the body is in motion or performing an endurance effort.
Cardiac magnetic resonance : the electromagnetic waves of the resonance allow us to observe the heart in three dimensions and assess its activity in real time.
Computed tomography (CT) of the heart : Similar to MRI, CT uses radiology to obtain multiple images of the heart from different points.
Cardiac catheterization : this test is performed to measure the pressure of the arteries and cardiac cavities, it is performed by inserting a catheter and a guide through an incision in the groin until reaching the artery to be observed.
On the other hand, to prevent cardiac pathologies, the procedure that is usually followed consists of three steps:
Healthy habits: the first step in preventive cardiology will be to give the patient guidelines to adopt healthy lifestyle habits, which normally include a balanced diet low in saturated fat and physical exercise.
Pharmacological treatment: The next level of preventive treatment will be medicines aimed at controlling heart disease, such as those that control blood pressure.
Surgery: when healthy lifestyle habits and drug treatment are not enough, the cardiologist specialist may choose to perform preventive surgery, such as the placement of a stent to reinforce the venous walls.
Preparation for preventive cardiology
Before the preventive cardiology consultation, the patient can prepare some points to get the most out of his meeting with the doctor, such as writing down the symptoms he feels, the activities he has done, keeping a list of the medications he must take and other useful information for the specialist.
It may also be helpful for the patient to write down any questions they want to ask the doctor. In case of needing any test that requires fasting or special preparation, the specialist will notify the patient and schedule the consultation for later.
Care after the intervention
In the preventive cardiology process, the specialist will provide the patient with guidelines that must be followed for proper prevention of heart disease. And it is that preventive cardiology is a process, in which the collaboration of the patient is required in the follow-up of the measures and treatments.