What Causes Heart Disease and is the Condition Preventable?

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Heart Disease

Most people who have a heart attack will have it without any warning signs or major risk factors. When fatty plaque builds inside the arteries, the artery becomes narrow. That process is called atherosclerosis and can completely block the artery. Over time that block, however, can sometimes crack or rupture, creating a blood clot inside the artery. Either way, the blood flow through that artery is completely blocked, making the heart muscle die, causing a heart attack. Fortunately, most of the time, heart disease is preventable. For this reason, preventive cardiology in Upper East Side helps patients identify their risks and develop a treatment plan for them.

What are the risk factors for heart disease?

  • Smoking causes heart attacks and obesity, especially central obesity, or when the fat builds around the waist, which is a particularly unhealthy type of obesity.
  • A high cholesterol diet can also lead to heart disease, diabetes, and pre-diabetes, when the sugar is up, not too high to be diabetic, but high enough to be abnormal.
  • High blood pressure can also increase the risk of heart attacks. Sometimes heart disease runs in the family and is a concern when a family member has a heart attack or bypass surgery younger than 55 years.
  • Some conditions of liver disease, like chronic kidney disease, can increase the risk for heart attacks. Other conditions called inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or other rheumatologic conditions affect the joints, which can double the risk for heart attacks.
  • Metabolic syndrome is a condition similar to diabetes, also called pre-diabetes, a combination of high triglycerides, central obesity, and few other things that increase the risk for heart attacks.

What should you expect from a heart disease prevention clinic?

The fundamental approach is to receive comprehensive care. When patients visit the clinic, the care provider in charge will start with a basic evaluation, assessing the common risk factors like diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol. The doctor will then put all that information into a unique formula created by the American heart association. The formula generates a risk that determines the patient’s likelihood of developing a heart attack in the next ten years. Cardiologists also use some formulas to calculate the risk in 30 years.

Additional tests like a coronary calcium scan may be necessary to check for calcium inside the heart, making the patient likely to have cholesterol buildup. The ankle-brachial index is a way to assess arterial stiffness or how stiff the arteries are. Some advanced blood testing helps identify inflammation or particular cholesterol that are very rare, but in some individuals will increase the risk for heart attacks. Occasionally checking for genetic markers in some patients may help doctors develop an action plan for them.

The first prevention plan is related to lifestyle, including nutrition and an exercise prescription. Specialists at Upper East Side Cardiology tailor the exercise prescription to each patient according to their specific needs, limitations, and abilities. Your doctor may also decide on medications because some patients require cholesterol medicines to reduce the risk for heart attack.

If you want more information about what cardiology treatment or you would like to schedule an appointment, contact Upper East Side Cardiology.

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