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:
- 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
- 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