Is My Heart Healthy?

You try to eat a healthy balanced diet, and get regular exercise. You control your blood pressure and have quit smoking.

Still, you can’t help but wonder, “Is my heart healthy?” Fortunately, finding out is an easy task. Here’s how.

As a part of your regular annual physical exam, you should have an annual heart exam.

If you’re a man without risk factors, 40 is a good age to begin heart exams; if you have risk factors, start at age 35. If you’re a woman without risk factors, you can wait until menopause for your first heart exam; if you do have risk factors, start at 40.

In addition to taking your medical history and giving you a general physical exam, your doctor will check your blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol, lipid levels, and blood sugar levels.

Then your doctor will request an EKG to look for any abnormalities. If the EKG shows any abnormalities, further testing, which could mean a stress test, an echocardiogram, or monitoring, will be ordered.

When heart disease is diagnosed early and treated appropriately, you can expect a good outcome. Anytime you have a symptom that suggests heart disease—fainting, dizziness, shortness of breath, rapid or irregular heart rate, or discomfort in the chest—be sure to contact your doctor or emergency services.

If you are experiencing chest pain with sweating, shortness of breath, or pain radiating down the arms or up into the jaw, contact emergency services immediately.

Remember if you are a woman that you may not have the classic chest-pain-with-pain-radiating-down-the-arms symptoms of a heart attack that men experience.