Frequently Asked Questions

Patient Information - Frequently Asked Questions

Am I at risk for cardiovascular disease?
There are certain factors you can control to lower your risk and others you cannot control. Controllable factors are:

  • Smoking
  • High LDL, or "bad" cholesterol and low HDL, or "good" cholesterol
  • Uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity (more than 20% above one's ideal body weight)
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • High C-reactive protein
  • Uncontrolled stress and anger

Factors you cannot control:

  • Older age
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Race (African Americans, American Indians, and Mexican Americans are more likely to have heart disease than Caucasians)

How do I know if I have cardiovascular disease?
Cardiovascular disease may be hard to spot; however, these are common symptoms:

  • Chest pain or discomfort in your arm, especially during physical activity
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue for no reason
  • Dizziness/nausea
  • Irregular heart beats

What are my treatment options?

  • Non-invasive treatments include medication, diet and exercise
  • Minimally-invasive procedures can require catheterization, during which a physician enters the heart through arteries in the legs or arms. Once in the heart, special tools are used to clear blocked arteries or to insert a stent (small stainless steel tube) when needed.
  • Surgical procedures require the patient to stay in the hospital for a few days so that a surgeon can repair damage to the heart tissue, valves, arteries or vessels.

Do I need a stress test?
If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, your cardiologist may recommend a stress test. Stress tests are also used for patients who have had a heart attack or angioplasty to monitor and assess safe amounts of physical activity.

What does a stress test tell you?

  • Determines if there is adequate blood flow to your heart during increasing levels of activity
  • Evaluates the effectiveness of your heart medications
  • Determines the likelihood of having coronary heart disease and the need for further evaluation
  • Checks the effectiveness of procedures done to improve blood flow within the heart vessels in people with coronary heart disease
  • Identifies abnormal heart rhythms
  • Helps you develop a safe exercise program
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