Your heart truly is the foundation of good health and fitness, and it is critical that you give it the attention and care that it deserves to ensure you enjoy a long and healthy life. Whether you have been through a sedentary period, or remained active, any time that you have suffered a heart episode or for any other reason you feel that your heart health has been compromised, it is important for your current and future well-being to visit your family physician and a cardiologist. Being proactive will help you determine if there is a problem and how to handle it so you can move forward in good health.
You won’t need to wonder about the health of your heart for long once you visit your cardiologist who should be ready to spring into action to get the bottom of your heart concerns. Your heart specialist will become an investigator and will use a variety of tests as tools to help understand the inner workings of your heart.
A few of the tests that a doctor will order to help determine any potential heart risks include the cardiac catheterization, angiography and electrophysiology. Each of these procedures will be performed in cath labs with the physician in attendance as well as an anesthetist and other technicians. Following is a brief description of each procedure and how it is performed so you will know what to expect if your doctor orders any of these tests for you:
- Cardiac Catheterization
According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, a cardiac catheterization is a procedure where medical professionals insert a thin flexible tube into your blood vessels leading to your heart via the groin, which is also called the femoral artery, or the wrist, which is known as the radial artery. Though both avenues of inserting the catheter are viable, but it is more widely accepted and simpler to use the femoral artery since it is a larger blood vessel.
- Coronary Angiography
Once the catheter is secure during the cardiac catheterization, the doctor and medical staff will add dye, also referred to as contrast agent in order to allow them to see the lumen, or the inside of the blood vessels. This technique helps make the heart’s arteries easily visible in order to detect the presence of plaque that may impede blood flow to the heart.
Electrophysiology gives your doctor a chance to take a closer look at your heart’s electrical activity. If you are experiencing abnormal heartbeats, your doctor may order this test wherein the medical staff will insert a catheter into your groin area. Once you have been numbed and the catheters have been inserted, the doctor will use a pacemaker to create a variety of stimuli, which is intended to gain feedback regarding the heart’s response.
Heart Health for Everyone
Once you have determined the health of your heart, your doctor will give you the specifics on how to manage the situation. Hopefully, you will be given the all-clear to proceed safely. Regardless of the outcome, following are some basic healthy lifestyle rules of thumb to keep your heart in tip top – and tick tock – shape in the future.
- Commit to Moderate Exercise Regularly
Whether it is a simple brisk walk, a light jog, cycling, swimming, rowing, yoga or weight lifting, make sure you keep your body in motion. Whatever you do, try to make sure you work in at least 30 minutes of moderate activity five days a week.
- Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet
Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean meats. Measure your portion sizes to ensure you maintain a healthy weight.