As one of, if not the most important, organs in your body, maintaining your heart’s health is crucial, and that’s why seeing a cardiologist for regular heart check-ups is essential.
Catching problems early can make all the difference, after all. In fact, sometimes it can even be life-saving.
Here at Echelon Health, we want to empower you with the knowledge you need to look after your cardiovascular health and lead a happy, healthy life.
In our latest blog post, discover more about why you should see a cardiologist as we run through some of the key cardiovascular warning signs you need to look out for.
What is a cardiologist?
Cardiologists are heart health specialists who play a crucial role in safeguarding your heart’s wellbeing.
A cardiologist specialises in diagnosing, treating, and preventing cardiovascular conditions. Their extensive training and education ensure they have the in-depth knowledge required to understand the complexities of your cardiovascular system.
Having an appointment with a cardiologist: what to expect
When having an appointment with a cardiologist, they will start by conducting a thorough assessment of your heart to determine its overall health. During this assessment, they will likely:
- Review your medical history
- Discuss your family’s medical history
- Perform physical examinations
- Order or perform cardiovascular tests such as electrocardiograms (ECG)
A cardiologist’s primary role is to diagnose heart-related conditions and provide an effective treatment plan tailored to your needs.
Conditions a cardiologist may diagnose include, but are not limited to:
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart murmurs
- High blood pressure
- Oedema (build-up of fluid)
Cardiologists are there to protect your heart and combine their knowledge, skills, and latest medical technology to keep your cardiovascular system as healthy as possible.
Cardiovascular treatments provided by cardiologists
When attending your regular heart check-ups, your cardiologist may pick up a condition that will require treatment. If this happens, you may be offered further testing to receive a definitive diagnosis as well as a personalised treatment plan.
A common treatment offered for conditions such as hypertension, cholesterol and heart rhythm disorders is medication. Similarly, lifestyle changes like eating well and exercising regularly may be recommended to help reduce the effects of these conditions.
Sometimes, surgery can be required to treat your condition. Stents (a tube-shaped device that keeps your arteries open), ablation (the creation of scar tissue to disrupt and regulate irregular heartbeats) or angioplasty (widening blocked or narrowed arteries) can all help address blockages or irregular heart rhythms.
More serious conditions can require open heart surgeries, such as coronary artery bypass grafting, valve repair or replacement and a heart transplant. You may also need to adopt lifestyle changes and take certain medications even after these surgeries have been performed, to ensure your heart remains in optimal condition for as long as possible.
The benefits of a heart check-up with a cardiologist
Prioritising your heart health is important and it requires more than leading a healthy lifestyle. You need to be proactive and preventative, which is where heart check-ups come in.
Having a heart check-up performed by a highly skilled cardiologist offers you a multitude of benefits. Some of these include:
- Early detection and risk factor monitoring — regular heart check-ups mean conditions such as high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol are picked up sooner — both of which can lead to heart complications if left untreated. You will also benefit from risk factor monitoring at each check-up to ensure you are doing the best you can for your heart at all times.
- Monitoring existing conditions — if you already have a heart condition, regular heart check-ups can ensure they are being managed effectively and you receive the treatment you need to protect your heart.
- Lifestyle guidance — a cardiologist can provide you with invaluable insights into how to lead a healthy lifestyle. Their tips will help you improve your cardiovascular health and can include things such as giving up smoking, exercising regularly, making dietary changes and getting enough sleep. With regular check-ups, you will be able to see the full effects of any of the changes you’ve made.
- Peace of mind — you can reduce your anxiety about your heart health and know you are doing your very best for your body.
- Enhanced treatment outcomes — many heart conditions respond better to treatment when they are still in their early stages. The later you leave things, the harder it can be to treat them effectively.
- Long-term health planning — you will be able to maintain your heart health for the long term with the support and guidance of your cardiologist. You will also be able to effectively manage and better anticipate your cardiovascular risks as you get older.
How frequently should I get a heart check-up with a cardiologist?
The frequency of your heart check-ups will depend on many different factors and their frequency will change as you age.
Once you are over the age of 30, you are recommended to have a heart check-up every two to three years. However, once you reach 40, this becomes more frequent until year-by-year, when they are recommended every six months or so.
How frequently you have a heart check-up will also depend on any risk factors that have already been established. Some of these can include:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Being overweight
- Genetic predisposition
If you have any of these factors, you might need to attend heart check-ups more regularly. Your cardiologist will be able to advise you on when and how often you should return to maintain your heart health.
Warning signs of heart conditions a cardiologist can help with
Although heart conditions require monitoring and treatment, they are not always a medical emergency. However, if you do experience symptoms regarding your heart, you should always seek medical advice and have a heart check-up.
Some common signs you may have a heart condition can include:
- Chest discomfort
- Fatigue unrelated to physical activity
- Irregular heartbeat
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
Just because you are experiencing these symptoms, it doesn’t mean you are having a heart attack. However, it’s important that you know the signs of one.
If you experience the symptoms listed below, always call 999:
- Chest or upper body pain
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweats
- Sudden fatigue
- Fullness, squeezing or pain in the centre of your chest
- Changes to your heartbeat
- Indigestion-like symptoms at the same time as your cardiovascular symptoms
Are shortness of breath and fatigue signs of heart issues?
While shortness of breath and fatigue can be signs of a heart condition, they can also be related to other health conditions, such as iron deficiency anaemia. If you deal with these symptoms regularly, it’s always worth speaking with a medical professional so they can accurately diagnose the root cause and provide the appropriate treatment.
When should I see a cardiologist?
Knowing when to see a cardiologist is important. For instance, you may unintentionally be brushing off symptoms that actually indicate the early stages of a heart condition.
One common symptom that many people experience but do nothing about is chest pain. Not all chest pain indicates a cardiovascular problem, but it’s important to recognise when you might need to see a cardiologist.
Here are some things to look out for which suggest it’s time to speak with a cardiologist:
- You experience regular bouts of chest pain
- You deal with accompanying symptoms, such as heart palpitations
- You have a family history of heart conditions
- Chest pain occurs during or after physical exertion
- You cannot find a clear explanation for the symptoms on your own (things like anxiety or too much caffeine can cause cardiovascular symptoms)
Being proactive with your heart health is vital. So, if you are dealing with cardiovascular symptoms regularly or are concerned about your health, book an appointment with a cardiologist.
Seeing a cardiologist at Echelon Health
Prioritising your heart health with regular check-ups, recognising warning signs, and consulting a cardiologist are some of the best ways you can take charge of your heart health.
Here at Echelon Health, we are proud to offer a thorough heart health scan among our health assessment packages.
If you want to optimise your cardiovascular health, our expert cardiologists are always on hand to help. We understand the importance of proactive cardiovascular care, and our team is dedicated to enhancing your wellbeing.
Take the initiative to invest in your cardiovascular health by booking a healthy heart check-up with Echelon Health. We can help you improve and maintain your cardiovascular health both now and over the long term.