What Exactly is Heart Screening & Why is it Important?

Heart screening is a very important part of every person’s life as they get older, not just those at risk for heart disease.  Since most diseases are treatable with early detection, it’s important to get a heart screening once you reach your mid-thirties or early forties.  Of course, if you are at risk for heart disease or are experiencing any symptoms, you should go for a heart screening no matter how old you are.

What is a Heart Screening?

A heart screening consists of any number of diagnostic tests that are used to detect the presence of heart disease and then evaluate the proper course of action.  Heart screenings can be used to either confirm or rule out heart disease as causes for symptoms, or they can be used to detect abnormalities such as genetic heart defects.  Heart screenings typically are an ongoing process for those at risk for heart disease, with heart disease or with a genetic defect or abnormality.  This means that heart screening becomes more of a heart monitoring process.

Still, heart screening is known mostly as a preventative care measure since doctors perform them mainly in an effort to catch heart disease before symptoms develop.  That’s why it’s important for everyone to have heart screenings, so if a disease is detected, treatment can be implemented to thwart the progression of the disease.

With that said, it’s also important to note that the types and number of tests will depend on the symptoms the patient is presenting.  Ultimately, the heart screening is totally at the doctor’s discretion.  For example, if there is an irregular heartbeat present, tests to screen for arrhythmia would be performed.  Still, most of the heart screening tests will come in a doctor’s office EKG machine.

What Types of Heart Screening Tests are There?

There are many different types of heart screening tests that a doctor can perform.  For instance, if a patient is complaining of exertion tiring them out, a stress test might be ordered to ascertain just how well or poorly the patient’s heart performs under stress.  This typically involves some type of physical activity where the patient’s heart rate and activity are closely monitored.  Most times, this is simple a run on a treadmill with EKG wires hooked up to your chest.

An echocardiogram is sometimes ordered as a follow-up test.  These echocardiogram tests simply create a moving image of the heart via sound waves and is completely non-intrusive as well.  This allows a doctor to check your heart valves and arteries while looking for blood clots.  Generally speaking, this is all to ascertain just how effective your heart is at getting the blood in your body to the places it needs to go.

What Should a Heart Screening Consist of?

It is recommended that a heart screening consist of a number of tests at a bare minimum, including:

  • 12-lead EKG
  • Cholesterol Profile
  • Diabetes Screening
  • Blood Pressure Measurement
  • Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • Height & Weight Check
  • Peripheral Vascular Disease Assessment

Other tests will be performed at the doctor’s discretion and will result from the signs and symptoms the patient is exhibiting.

Why is a Heart Screening So Important?

It’s vital that regular cardiovascular heart screening take place because early detection is so vital to successful treatment of heart disease.  The longer you wait to treat the disease and symptoms, the less effective the treatment will be and the more invasive as well.  This means that if a certain disease is caught early, slight exercise and diet change may be all that is necessary to help fight heart disease.  However, without heart screening, that same heart disease caught later could require heart surgery or worse—be completely untreatable.