There’s a fine line between being at risk for developing heart disease and actually having heart disease. While an official diagnosis can be intimidating, it’s always better to know what you might be facing when it comes to your health. Since diagnostic testing can be time consuming and (depending on your insurance plan) expensive, you want to make sure it’s necessary. So how do you know if you need diagnostic testing?
Here are a five signs you should talk to your doctor about diagnostic testing.
1. You’re Getting Older
More than 80 percent of people who die of coronary heart disease are over the age of 65, according to the American Heart Association. As your heart gets older, your risk of having a cardiovascular event significantly increases. Diagnostic testing can help you and your doctor determine if you need to make any lifestyle changes.
2. You Have a Family History of Heart Disease
If you have a parent, grandparent or other immediate family member who had heart disease, your risks are substantially increased. Make sure you share a detailed family health history with your doctor when discussing the possibility of diagnostic testing.
3. You’re Overweight
You’re probably well aware that the carrying around extra body fat—particularly in your stomach area—can have a negative impact on your health. Obesity combined with a sedentary lifestyle puts your heart health at risk. Your doctor might want to complete some diagnostic tests to determine the severity of your condition.
4. You’re a Smoker
Even though lung cancer is typically the most common health concern associated with smoking, there is also a high correlation between cigarette use and coronary heart disease. Smokers are two to four times more likely to develop heart disease than nonsmokers.
5. You Have High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol or Diabetes
All three of these separate health conditions increase your risk of developing heart problems. Along with monitoring your condition, your doctor might also want you to undergo diagnostic testing to keep an eye on your heart health.
What Kind of Diagnostic Testing Will I Need?
While the type of tests your doctor requests may vary depending on your particular risk factors, here is a run down of the standard diagnostic tests used to diagnose heart disease:
- A basic physical exam and blood work – Your doctor may use basic blood work to determine which additional diagnostic tests are necessary.
- A chest x-ray – This allows your doctor to see the basic structure of your heart and lungs.
- An electrocardiogram (ECG) – This test can find any potential irregularities in your heart’s rhythm.
- An echocardiogram – This is an ultrasound of your chest, which can provide a more detailed image of your heart’s structure.
- A cardiac CT or cardiac MRI – These are two different types of tests, both designed to show images that can help your doctor evaluate your heart health.
The first step in determining if diagnostic testing is the right choice for your health is to have a discussion with your doctor. We offer a full range of diagnostic testing services in Northeast Ohio, including electrocardiograms (EKGs) holter monitoring and stress tests. To find a diagnostic testing location near you, visit our website.