by Birney Jimm
Heart disease is still the leading cause of death for individuals in the United States, with men being more vulnerable than women, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One in every four deaths in the US is attributed to heart disease, which totals to about 610,000 per annum.
If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoke, you have a higher risk of experiencing heart disease, along with almost half of America’s population. That’s why one of our previous articles, ‘Spring Clean Your Heart: Think About Seeing a Doctor’ suggested that you visit a cardiologist if you experience any discomfort associated with heart disease including chest pain, shortness of breath, and nausea. To help you get the most out of your trip to the cardiologist, here are five questions you can ask during your visit:
1. What gender-specific symptoms are typical for heart disease?
Apart from the typical symptoms of chest pain or chest pressure, there are also atypical symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness and leg swelling. According to an article by U.S. News, men tend to report symptoms like “chest pressure that may go down the arm and increase with physical activity or anxiety” while, women tend to have a “funny feeling in the chest” or experience skipped heartbeats. That’s why it’s important to know what you should watch out for depending on your biological gender.
2. What is my risk of having a cardiovascular problem in the future?
If you’re prone to self-diagnosis, you may not think that you’re at risk, but it’s worth consulting a professional. Everyday Health states that if you are fully educated on and understand your risk for future heart problems, you’ll probably be more careful. Also, “someone whose cholesterol is borderline but who has diabetes and a family history of heart disease will need their cholesterol treated much more aggressively than someone with a lower risk, for example.”
3. Why do I need this medication and are there any side effects I should be aware of?
It’s always important to know what medications you’re taking and why, so you take the necessary precautions. For example, WebMD writes that some common drugs don’t mix well with certain heart medications like cough and cold medication, ibuprofen, and antacids. That’s why you should always think twice before combining any pills and consult your doctor at once if you experience any severe side effects.
4. Do I need to start a new exercise program or are there any risks associated with mine?
Are you a fitness buff or are you not a fan of running? Either way, the University of Utah recommends consulting a cardiologist if you are over the age of 40 and plan on starting a new exercise program. This is to ensure that you aren’t working your heart too hard or too little. Be fully honest with your heart doctor about your fitness levels so they can work with you to create or modify a personalized exercise program that best suits your needs.
5. Are there any changes I need to make in my lifestyle?
The good news is that cardiovascular disease can be greatly impacted by your lifestyle choices. Things like a change in diet, more sleep, and stress reduction also make an impact. It may be difficult to make these changes on your own and stay on track, but a cardiologist can identify any areas of improvement and refer you to other professionals they work with if necessary.