Early Detection and Preventative Care for Heart Disease

photograph of woman speaking with her doctor
Taking care of your heart health doesn’t just mean receiving quality care when a problem persists or an emergency happens. As the leading cause of death in the United States, even more important is the need for early detection and preventative care for heart disease.

“This is the most important aspect. Management and treatment can all be done, but prevention is the key,” said CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs cardiologist Dr. Srinivas Vengala. “When we’re young, we think of heart disease as something that happens in our 70s or 80s and we don’t need to worry about it, but that’s not true.”

Factors Leading to Heart Disease Can Begin at an Early Age

Plaque build up in the arteries can start in patients as early as their 20s. Left untreated, it can lead to coronary artery disease, angina, peripheral artery disease and other heart conditions.

“Most people don’t even realize that plaque build up can start that early,” Dr. Vengala said. “There are multiple factors that go into developing heart disease. It’s a lifelong learning process and commitment.”

Heart Disease Risk Can Often Be Manage with Healthy Lifestyle Changes

Two of the most critical components of preventing heart disease are proper diet and routine exercise. When prioritized as part of a heart healthy lifestyle, these two practices can help manage cholesterol levels, prevent hypertension and reduce the risk of developing diabetes.

“If we can prevent the risk factors and maintain a healthy lifestyle, all of these things will help to prevent heart disease,” said Dr. Vengala. “Prevention is the most important thing.”

Early Detection of Heart Disease is Key

When heart disease does present itself, the focus shifts to early detection. If caught early enough, the condition can sometimes be managed without the need for surgery. Heart disease can often be silent without any noticeable symptoms, so the key to early detection is knowing important numbers.

“You need to know your numbers and your target level for cholesterol and blood pressure,” said CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs cardiologist Dr. Oyidie Igbokidi. “These are different for everybody, especially for patients who have diabetes or heart disease. If you don’t know your numbers you won’t know if something needs to be treated.”

Family History is a Risk Factor for Developing Heart Disease

While early detection and preventative care should be priorities for anyone who wants to live a heart healthy lifestyle, they are especially important for those who have a family history of heart disease. While it doesn’t guarantee the same outcome, family history is one of the leading risk factors for developing heart disease.

“If you had somebody in your family with a heart problem, it becomes much more important,” said Dr. Vengala. “Those people should give special attention to their lifestyle and the other important factors to prevent heart disease.”

Dr. Igbokidi and Dr. Vengala are part of the team of leading cardiologists at the CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs Heart Center, which performs life-saving diagnostic procedures, provides one-on-one treatment and helps patients manage heart disease. To learn more about early detection and preventative care for heart disease, and our wide range of heart services available across the state, visit: chistvincent.com/heart