Heart disease affects approximately 7 million people in the UK, but many of us are unaware that we are living with a cardiovascular condition. Cardiac screening can detect these hidden conditions so that we are able to get treatment. It can also reveal who is at risk of developing heart disease in the future, which can enable us to take steps to prevent these kinds of problems. Should you have your cardiovascular health assessed to find out if you could be affected?
Anyone can be affected by heart disease, so it is important for all of us to take good care of our health and be aware of the signs that something is wrong. It is also a good idea to see a doctor for heart screening. You will get advice on protecting your heart and help if there are any issues that require treatment.
Approximately 1 in 4 deaths in the UK are caused by heart and circulatory diseases, so these are very common conditions that are affecting all kinds of people. Heart screening can tell you if there’s anything you need to do to improve your health. It could help you to stay well or even save your life if you have a hidden heart condition.
Risk Factors to Consider
Although heart screening can be beneficial for everyone, it is particularly important if you are at higher risk of these kinds of conditions. If any of the following risk factors apply to you then you should consider having your heart checked. You should also think about the steps you can take to minimise these risks. Although you can’t do anything about risk factors such as your age or gender, you can do a lot to look after your heart and avoid some of the other risks.
The risk of heart disease increases as we grow older. Anyone who is over the age of 40 should consider having heart screening as cardiovascular disease is more common in this age group. You should come back for regular heart screening after your first check up to ensure that your heart stays as healthy as possible.
Men are more likely to be affected by heart disease and to develop it at a younger age than women.
- If you are a man, then you should consider going for heart screening from the age of 35-40.
- If you are a woman, then you should be able to leave it a little later and have your first heart screening at age 45-50, as long as you aren’t affected by any of the other risk factors.
Certain medical conditions can increase the chances of developing heart disease, so it is important to undergo screening if you are affected by one of these. You are also at higher risk if you have a family history of heart disease.
Signs that you should arrange a heart check include:
- Cardiovascular conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or a congenital heart condition
- Type 2 diabetes
- Having a close male relative (father or brother) who developed heart disease before the age of 55
- Having a close female relative (mother or sister) who developed heart disease before the age of 65
Being overweight or obese can increase your chances of developing conditions such as high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis. It also increases the risk of serious cardiovascular conditions including heart attacks.
One way to find out if you are overweight is to calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI). You can do this by measuring your height in metres and your weight in kilograms. Divide your weight by your height, then divide the answer by your height again. The result if your BMI. A healthy BMI should be between 18.5 and 25. If it is over 25 then you are at higher risk of heart disease, so you should consider losing weight and seeing a doctor for heart screening.
Certain aspects of your lifestyle can also affect your risk of developing heart disease. If any of these risk factors apply to you then you should consider heart screening as well as making some changes to your lifestyle to protect your heart.
- Exercise is important for your cardiovascular health, so if you aren’t getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week then you are at higher risk.
- Although exercise is usually good for your heart, strenuous physical activities can put a strain on your body. If you are serious athlete, you’re about to take on a big challenge such as a marathon, or you’re planning to increase your activity levels, then it’s a good idea to undergo heart screening to ensure you can exercise safely.
- Smoking doubles the risk of heart disease, so it’s a good idea to have a heart check if you’ve ever been a smoker. If you still some now, then you should consider quitting to improve your health.
- Moderate alcohol consumption shouldn’t put your heart at risk, but if you drink a lot then you are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Should You Have Your Cardiovascular Health Assessed?
Heart screening can be a good idea for everyone, especially over the age of 40. If you are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease for any reason, then it is even more important for you to get your heart checked. We recommend that everyone over 40 has at least a blood pressure check every 2 years. You should also undergo more thorough screening every 5 years. If you are at higher risk or you have other health problems, then you may need additional tests or more frequent screening.
If you’re not sure whether you need screening or how often you should have a heart check, then you can always get in touch for personalised advice from a doctor. Screening can help to keep you at your best and could even save your life if you develop a heart condition that needs to be treated.