Heart and Vascular Disease: Are you at Risk?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cardiovascular disease, also called heart and vascular disease, is the leading cause of death in the United States. In addition, The American Heart Association estimates that more than 81 million Americans have at least one type of cardiovascular disease. That’s nearly one out of every three people.
Fortunately, there are ways to assess your risk and protect yourself from many heart and vascular diseases. Robert Candipan, M.D., Ph.D., a board-certified interventional cardiologist on the medical staff at St. Luke’s Medical Center, explains the causes of cardiovascular disease, screening options to assess your risk and lifestyle modifications to lower your risk.
Q: What is cardiovascular disease?
A: Cardiovascular disease is a class of diseases affecting the heart and blood vessel system. Most of these diseases are related to a process called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a condition that develops when plaque builds up on the walls of the arteries. The plaque buildup narrows the arteries, making it more difficult for blood to flow normally. This can cause blood clots to form, which, in turn, can block the flow of blood. Heart attacks or strokes can occur when plaque or clots restrict the blood supply.
Q: Who is at risk for developing cardiovascular disease?
A: Truly everyone is at risk for developing heart disease, but several factors can increase your risks. Risk factors include:
Age, 50 years and older.
Family history of cardiovascular disease.
Q: What can you do to lower your risk?
A: Simple lifestyle modifications, like exercising regularly or eating a healthier diet, can reduce most risk factors of heart disease. If you smoke, it’s important to quit. Also, speak with a physician if you suffer from hypertension or high cholesterol to determine how to best control those conditions. Simple diet changes, like reducing saturated and trans fats, can significantly reduce dangerous plaque buildup in your arteries. Also, know your numbers. Get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked regularly to prevent situations before they occur.
Q: What screenings are available?
A: In addition to regular checkups with a physician, a TripleView screening package can assess your risk for several heart and vascular diseases. With TripleView, you receive three screenings in one package:
Ankle brachial index to detect peripheral artery disease (PAD).
Carotid ultrasound to find carotid artery disease.
Abdominal ultrasound to detect abdominal aortic aneurysms.
These highly accurate tests are painless, noninvasive and take less then one hour to perform.
Smokers and individuals who have personal or family history of heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol or hypertension are encouraged to get screened. However, TripleView screenings are available to everyone interested in determining what risk factors they may have for heart and vascular disease. The TripleView screening package is specially priced at $99 and does not require a doctor’s order. To learn more or to schedule a TripleView screening, call 1-877-351-WELL (9355).
Robert Candipan, M.D., Ph.D., is a board-certified interventional cardiologist on the medical staff at St. Luke’s Medical Center and in practice with Phoenix Heart Center, a Physician Group of Arizona, Inc., practice. For more information about St. Luke’s or Dr. Candipan, call 1-877-351-WELL (9355).
This information is provided by St. Luke’s Medical Center as general information only and is not intended to replace the advice of a physician.