Our heart – a fist-sized limb is one of the most vital organs of the body and one that needs a lot of care and attention to ensure it is functioning properly so that there is adequate pumping of blood, oxygen and essential nutrients in the body. The heart is the foundation for our survival. Hence, it is very critical for the heart to be healthy and fit; and to prevent potential heart problems, preventive measures are very helpful. Many types of heart diseases can be easily prevented provided factors that are increasing the risk are reduced or eliminated. Preventive Cardiology is one such sub-branch that aims to potentially reduce the risk of heart diseases by adopting several targeted methods including diet, lifestyle changes, medications, monitoring, preventive surgeries, etc.
Preventive Cardiology comprehensively assesses potential heart diseases, adopts an integrated methodology to evaluate the heart disease risk factors, and then provides a course of recommendations and methods to reduce the risk of those heart diseases. Hence, preventive cardiology is very subjective and solely depends on the condition of the patient and other individual associated factors. Through preventive cardiology, the goal is to reduce risk factors and prevent any signs of heart disease from getting worse.
Preventive cardiology involves research, education and dedicated medical care for people who are more likely to develop cardiovascular and peripheral vascular diseases. This involves studying a lot of parameters such as:
- Blood pressure
- Alcohol consumption
- Drug abuse
- Physical activity
- Weight and obesity
- Racial disparities
- Gender differences
- Essential nutrients
This subspecialty not only helps evade the risk of developing heart disease but also having a first heart attack or stroke. Moreover, it aims to reduce complications from already advanced heart problems such as cardiovascular diseases. Preventive methodology evaluates the patient’s risk of developing a heart problem, examines risk factors, genetics, family history and other parameters that can likely to impact the heart health in future – based on these a proper detailed patient-specific medical plan is formed to aggressively reduce the chances of heart disease occurrence.
Who should see a Preventive Cardiologist?
While it may be best to opt for preventive cardiology treatment as soon as you feel deterioration in heart health moreover, it should be instigated even quicker, if the patient is prone to or has an association with factors such as:
- A long family history of heart diseases, heart attacks or strokes
- Previous case of heart attack
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Diabetes or family history of diabetes
- Alcohol problem
- Substance abuse history
- Obesity or excessive weight
- Unhealthy diet
- Sedentary lifestyle
Further, a few other factors put one at more risk of heart problems and thereby, more in need for preventive cardiology:
- Genetic disorders
- Gender (men are more at risk than women)
- Race and ethnicity
Methods of Preventive Cardiology
Some of the methods of preventive cardiology that aim to reduce the risk of possible heart problems include:
Comprehensive Cardiovascular Risk Assessment: Preventive cardiology involves conducting comprehensive tests and examinations to assess the potential and intensity of heart disease occurrence even in cases where there is no symptom as such. This will involve checking family history, genetic disorders, lifestyle habits, cholesterol and blood pressure, imaging and blood vessels, and conducting advanced heart analysis.
Multi-disciplinary Risk Intervention: Preventive cardiology requires close association with the patient to provide counselling, support and suggest a detailed individual medical plan to address personal risk factors. This will also require continuous monitoring and may involve certain medications.
Diet and Lifestyle Management: This involves preparing personal diet plans aiming to reduce heart disease triggers and targeted to resolve the main problem causing the potential threat. This will also involve suggestions on changes in lifestyle and consultations on the way to a healthy life.
Cardiac Rehabilitation: This method involves close monitoring and attentive care for patients who have recently suffered a heart attack, stroke, stenting, heart surgery, angina, or any other cardiac condition or treatment. The aim is to reduce the risk of future heart problems.
Clinical Trials: Though rare but in some cases, preventive cardiology can also involve trying innovative and well-researched methodologies on heart patients to cure their problem. These methodologies are still under development and are not widely available in the market but have been approved for trial. Preventive cardiology enables the patients to receive groundbreaking treatment several years before it reaches the market, subject to several approvals.
Thus, Preventive Cardiology is a very critical specialty that aims to detect heart problem triggers early, conduct proper analysis, make individualized action plans, determine the optimal approach for each patient, and then closely monitor the person to ensure heart health and safety.