Cardiovascular disease is a broad term for any medical condition that affects your heart or blood vessels. Cardiovascular disease is very common since some cases are caused by lifestyle choices of poor diet, lack of exercise, and smoking. Heart and vessel problems can be serious if they result in a stroke or heart attack. Sometimes, your first indication of this disease is when you have a heart attack. That's why it's so important to have regular examinations and testing by your doctor. Here are some tests that give clues about the health of your cardiovascular system:
Blood Pressure Check
High blood pressure is a sign of problems in your cardiovascular system. You can often have high blood pressure without having noticeable symptoms. Your doctor probably checks your pressure on each visit because it is an important number to monitor. If you have high blood pressure or are borderline, then you may want to buy the equipment and test your pressure at home. You can also find blood pressure tests at various grocery and drug stores so you can track your numbers between doctor visits.
An EKG or ECG is a test of the electrical impulses produced by your heart. The test provides a graph of your heart rhythm that your doctor can analyze. This picks up abnormalities such as irregular heartbeats and a beat that is too fast or too slow. You might have this test done routinely or after you have complaints of chest pain. An EKG is an easy test to take. The technician attaches electrodes to your skin in various places to pick up the electrical signals produced by your heart, and the test only takes a few minutes.
Another type of EKG is done while you exercise. This is called a stress test and it checks how well your heart responds to physical exertion. There is another test that involves wearing a monitor for a full day so the doctor has a longer graph to view how well your heartbeat functions throughout the day. All these tests help your cardiologist determine the health of your cardiovascular system and diagnose disease so you can receive effective treatment if you need it.
Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may order image testing of your heart. One of these is an echocardiogram, which is an ultrasound of your heart. Your doctor may also order a CT scan or MRI of your heart. These tests produce different types of images your doctor can study for abnormalities within the structure of your heart, valves, and vessels. Your doctor will see if you have an enlarged heart or if there is damage to part of your heart muscle. The images can even show how well your heart is pumping.
All of the tests above are easy to undergo and provide your cardiologist with a lot of information about your heart. If the doctor suspects you have cardiovascular disease, more intensive tests may be done such as a heart catheterization that allows your doctor to see blood flowing through your vessels and your heart.