Heart health screening or heart screening is a health screening focussing on the wellbeing of the heart. Health screening is the modality to detect any diseases in a healthy person or a symptoms free individual at an early stage. Many diseases do not manifest any signs or symptoms during the early stages. Once a person develops symptoms means the disease has progressed. Prevention is better than cure. Health screening is one of the preventive measures in the medical field. Many people are still afraid to go for health screening as they are afraid that they are ill. This is the wrong mentality. Those who go for health screening and are detected to have a disease already have the disease and detecting it earlier provides a higher chance to recover. Without going for a health screening, a ‘healthy’ is dying. In the context of heart disease, early detection is very important because late manifestation shows a high death rate.
Why is the heart so important? The heart is crucial in delivering and maintaining blood flow to the whole body. The heart is the engine that receives and ejects blood to different areas in the body. Blood vessels are the channels or tubes that direct the flow of the blood and complement the existence of the heart. Heart, blood vessels, and blood are part of a system known as the cardiovascular system. Blood is a medium to nourish and maintain the existence of other body cells. Blood brings oxygen and nutrients to all body cells and organs. Blood also takes away waste products like carbon dioxide for the body to expel it out.
Cardiovascular screening includes a physical examination by a doctor, blood pressure measurement, blood cholesterol level, blood sugar level, electrocardiography (ECG), ECG stress test, and other advanced tests for those with risk factors of developing heart disease. Once a person is having symptoms of heart disease, diagnosing the cause is required. The things that will be done are almost the same.
Diagnosing heart disease or any other diseases depends on the findings from history taking, physical examination, and investigations. The study and interpretation of signs and symptoms from history taking and physical examination is very important before a list of specific investigations can be ordered.
The signs and symptoms of heart disease are:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Increased jugular venous pressure
- Swollen limbs or peripheries
- Abnormal heart sound
The investigations to confirm the diagnosis of heart disease is:
- ECG and ECG stress test
- Blood studies like cholesterol level and cardiac biomarkers test
- Chest x-ray
- Cardiac angiography
There are two types of risk factors which are modifiable risk factors and non-modifiable risk factors. The threat factors for heart disease are:
- Obesity or overweight
- Family history
- High-fat diet
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Stressful life
- Unbalanced diet
Health is defined as the state of wellbeing of the biopsychosocial components. Bio is referring to our hardware or our body organs and parts. Psycho is referring to the software or the human mental state. Social is referring to our relationship with the environment, surroundings, and people which includes relationships and financial status. A healthy person means all three components are well. An unhealthy heart is related to the impaired bio component. The diseases of the body are mostly well studied and most of the diseases already have the treatment. An unhealthy heart could mean many things. There are many diseases of the heart. The examples are:
- Coronary heart disease
- Congenital heart disease
- Valvular heart disease
- Heart failure
- Pericardial diseases
- Rheumatic heart disease
- Infective endocarditis