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What is Preventive Cardiology? Here’s everything there is to know



CSince heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, taking good care of your heart is quite important. Much of being active about heart health depends on diet and lifestyle habits. Not smoking, exercising regularly, and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables may be the “rules” you’ve heard by MDs for decades, but they’ve endured the test of time. due.

If you already feel you are well grounded in your diet and lifestyle, you might be wondering what the next level of protection is for your heart – especially if your family’s cardiovascular disease is. Because heart disease is such a big problem in the United States, there is actually an area of ​​medicine dedicated to stopping it: preventive cardiovascular.

Here, two cardiologists explain exactly what prophylactic cardiologists do, when you should consider looking for one and its price. Keep reading everything you need to know.

What is prophylactic cardiology?

According to Michael Share, MD, a cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, people looking for a preventive cardiologist tend to split into two groups. The first person often wants to assess their cardiovascular risk, such as knowing the likelihood of having a heart attack. That desire may stem from a parent̵

7;s or sibling’s diagnosis. Nieca Goldberg, MD, a cardiologist and medical director of Joan H. Tisch said: “If someone in your family has a heart attack, it can be helpful to see a cardiologist. room to evaluate and reduce your risk. Women’s Health Center.

The second group has had cardiovascular problems in the past and wants to do everything possible to prevent it from coming back. “Usually, someone’s primary care physician will refer a patient to me after seeing that their cholesterol is high, as a next step,” said Dr. Share.

Then what happens between you and your documents is completely personalized. “What preventive cardiologists do is really look at someone’s personal risk and make adjustments [a plan] for that particular person, ”said Dr. Goldberg. This actually involves defining exactly what someone can do to control their own cardiovascular health, she says. For one person, that could connect them to a registered dietitian or health coach who can help suggest healthier eating habits. For another, you may be considering taking a medication. It is important, she said, for the doctor to formulate an individual plan for that particular person.

What to expect from an appointment with a preventive cardiologist

To accurately identify your risk factors, be prepared to tell all about your family history, diet, and lifestyle habits. New patients can also complete a full physical exam and blood test, including a cholesterol test. “This test is called a lipid blood panel, and it measures specific lipids in the blood to check for HDL and LDL cholesterol,” said Dr. Goldberg.

Dr. Share says there are other tests a doctor may do at a backup cardiologist’s appointment that could help better assess a person’s cardiovascular health risks. One is an electrocardiogram (ECG), a simple test that measures the electrical activity of the heart. An electrocardiogram is often done if someone has trouble breathing, has chest pain, feels weak or notices an irregular heartbeat and can help identify the root problem of these symptoms.

You may also undergo a stress test, which shows how well the heart works during physical activity. Usually, this involves the patient walking and jogging on a treadmill while connected to a machine to record heart activity.

“Another test that is commonly done is a coronary calcium scan,” adds Dr. Share that it is usually done on patients who don’t have any symptoms of heart disease, but may be at risk. this disease. “This test checks for calcium accumulation in the coronary arteries, and in this case, calcium is bad. Not the same type of calcium makes your bones strong, he says, and note that they are generally not recommended for people under the age of 40 as buildups tend not to happen so soon. Doctor . Share said. “But it is not needed by any means; That is an additional precautionary step. “

In addition to testing, a preventive cardiologist may recommend medications – especially statins – to someone to minimize their risk. This, along with any other questions you may have about your heart, is something you can ask at your appointment with your backup cardiologist.

How much does it cost to see a backup cardiologist?

According to Dr. Share, since the preventive cardiologist is a specialist, an examination may not be covered by someone’s insurance, making them more expensive than seeing a primary care physician. A typical exam can cost hundreds of times, and that’s before any test costs.

“That said, a primary care physician can do many things that a preventive cardiologist can do,” said Dr. Share. “A primary care physician can measure cholesterol, look at someone’s other risk factors and make a good assessment of their risk of heart disease.” So if you don’t talk to your primary care doctor about heart disease – and are worried about it – make a list of questions to ask before your next appointment.

If your primary care physician recommends an electrocardiogram or stress test from a preventive cardiologist, those tests can range from $ 50 to $ 175, or more. One test that is not routinely covered by insurance is a scan of coronary artery calcium, as it is not medically necessary, Dr. Share said. “That test typically costs between $ 150 and $ 250, depending on where a person lives,” he says, emphasizing that it’s just an additional tool. Regarding medications, if the prophylactic cardiologist prescribes a statin, they must be covered by insurance in full.

Cardiovascular health is something everyone should be mindful of – even if you are in your 20s and 30s. Dr. Share reiterated that many people concerned about their personal risk may be told to their healthcare provider. their main squirrel. But if you want or need to talk to a specialist, they can provide more detailed information on how to reduce your risk of heart disease. Regardless of whether or not you have an appointment, the cornerstone of a preventive cardiovascular system lies in diet and lifestyle. And it’s an active step you can take without withdrawing your insurance card.

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