Screenings and Diagnosis
Screening for heart disease takes many forms. Everyone can benefit from having their blood pressure and cholesterol checked - simple tests that provide insights into the health of your heart.
- Blood pressure screening: Often free at health fairs, pharmacies and grocery stores. Also available at your physician's office.
- Cholesterol screening: Usually a small fee at health fairs. Also available at your physician's office.
Checking for Heart Disease
You may need other tests to check for heart disease, especially if you have risk factors or your physician suspects you may have a heart problem.
- Your doctor will ask you questions about your health and family health history.
- Your doctor will examine you.
- Tell your doctor about any symptoms you've noticed.
- Bring along a list of all medications you take, including over-the-counter and supplements.
- Your doctor will order tests to check for heart disease. Tests may include:
- X-rays: Produces pictures of your heart and lungs to show your heart's size and shape and any fluid in your lungs.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG): Records electrical signals that travel through your heart. Electrodes are placed on your chest, arms and legs. Wires connect the pads to the ECG machine to record electrical signals and show the pattern of your heartbeat.
- Echocardiogram: Uses ultrasound waves to show the structure and movement of your heart muscle, including pumping, any enlargement, thickness of your heart's walls and any valve problems.
- Lab tests: Blood and urine tests show if kidneys and other organs are working properly. Blood cholesterol and blood sugar tests may be included along with a blood test for BNP, a hormone produced when your heart is overworked.
- Stress test: Your heart rate is measured at rest and while you exercise on a treadmill. If you cannot use the treadmill, your doctor can give you an intravenous medication that mimics the effects of exercise on your heart. You may have an echocardiogram or another imaging test before and after a stress test to check your heart's response.
- Holter monitor: Detects abnormal heartbeat. You wear a portable monitor that is connected to your chest with soft pads while you go about your normal activities for several hours or days. The monitor records your heart's rhythm.
Next Steps - Treatment Plan
Your doctor reviews your test results, diagnoses your heart problem and talks to you about a recommended treatment plan. Your plan may include:
- Medications to improve your heart function and quality of life.
- Changes in your diet to prevent fluid from backing up into your body.
- Daily monitoring of your symptoms and weight to make sure your plan is working.
- Exercise. Baptist Family Fitness offers custom fitness plans.
- Help to quit smoking. Baptist Health Deaconess Madisonville has teamed up with The Kentucky Cancer Program to offer the Cooper Clayton Smoking Cessation Program.