Chances are at some point you’ve thought about whether or not to see a cardiologist. With statistics like heart disease is the number one killer of Americans (and it is true!), it has surely crossed your mind.
General cardiologists are practitioners that focus on the heart. If you are at risk for heart disease, a routine check-up with this specialized physician can help you to be on top of your heart health!
9 Things to Keep in Mind
1. Your primary care physician has referred you to a cardiologist. Maybe your family doctor has seen a red flag in your exam and feels as though you should have your heart checked a little more closely by a cardiologist. Or it could be that your personal or family history warrants an exam by a physician who focuses on the heart. If your primary care physician is referring you to a cardiologist, make an appointment right away.
Read: How to Find and Choose a Cardiologist
2. Family history. Do some digging, chart your family tree and ask questions of your family members about their health history. Heart disease can have a strong genetic component. If you are seeing a pattern of heart disease, including cholesterol and high blood pressure, take action and get checked by a cardiologist.
3. High Blood Pressure. Regular blood pressure checks should occur from age 20 on up. If you are noticing a trend and your blood pressure is creeping up, or maybe it’s just plain old high, it is imperative that you get it under control. A cardiologist can help you manage your blood pressure. High blood pressure is a strong risk factor for both heart disease and stroke, and making sure that you “know your numbers” is important in preventing a cardiac event.
4. High Cholesterol. Increased cholesterol does not cause symptoms and can be difficult to manage. As one of the most significant risk factors for heart disease, getting cholesterol numbers under control is of utmost importance. You can find more information on healthy cholesterol levels here.
5. History of Preeclampsia. According to the Preeclampsia Foundation, research has shown that women who have had a history of preeclampsia-high blood pressure during pregnancy or in the postpartum period-have double the risk of heart disease. The risk may be even higher for those that deliver preterm babies or suffer from this condition more than once. Better safe than sorry! If you have had preeclampsia during any of your pregnancies, it is best to get your heart checked.
6. Your heart age is higher than your actual age. Do you know your overall risk for heart disease? If the answer is no, take a second and find out right now.
Take our free heart risk profiler to find out!
7. Smoking. If you are or have been a smoker, making an appointment with a cardiologist may not be a bad idea. Smoking at any time in your life raises the risk of heart disease and overall is a major risk factor.
8. You've been diagnosed with diabetes. Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease than those adults without diabetes. The American Heart Association lists diabetes as one of seven major controllable risk factors of heart disease. Take action and work toward controlling it.
9. Congenital Heart Disease in Childhood. One common misconception of those that were born with congenital heart disease (CHD) is that once it is structurally fixed as a child, continued care is not needed. This is not true. In fact, the quality of life of those adults that had CHD surgery as a child is significantly increased by having a routine check up with a specialized cardiologist during adulthood.
***You may be surprised to see that chest pain is not on our list. That is because if you are experiencing chest pain, the answer is always to call 911. Don’t delay. Chest pain is not something you want to wait to act on.
Of course while getting your heart checked by a cardiologist is important, so is making lifestyle changes to increase heart health. Many of the above risk factors for heart disease can be modified with a few small changes. It is never too late to come up with a game plan for leading a healthier life!