Cardiovascular consultation is the most important aspect of medical treatment. It is an opportunity for patients to discuss about their cardiac problems, current complaints, understand the risks and complications, and to adopt healthy lifestyle habits. It also helps in better understanding the treatment methods and surgery procedure, pre- and post-operative preparations, risks, and complications of the surgery.
During the cardiac consultation, your doctor will evaluate past medical history, and perform thorough physical examination and tests to assess the risk of developing heart diseases. Early diagnosis may have a better prognosis and minimize the complications.
Physician consultation is a good opportunity and you should be prepared for it.
- Carry all necessary medical records for the discussion. It helps in better understanding your heart condition and avoids repetition of diagnostic tests.
- Make sure you discuss your past medical history, surgical history, family history, and medications that you are taking.
- Discuss about your lifestyle habits, dietary habits and also about your profession. Your lifestyle and nature of job may be associated with the risk for cardiac diseases.
Some of the cardiac diagnostic tests that are performed to determine heart disease include:
- Cardiac angiography – It is commonly done for patients who have signs of coronary artery disease. This test uses X-ray images to examine the blood vessels or chambers of the heart for plaque deposition or other problems. In this test, a catheter is inserted into the blood vessel in the upper thigh or arm and pushed towards the heart. A contrast dye is then injected into the blood to make the arteries visible. When the dye flows through the arteries, X-ray images are captured.
- Echocardiography – It uses sound waves to create images of the heart. The images determine the size of the heart, strength of the heart muscles, presence of heart diseases, and heart valve malfunctions. The images of the heart are shown on the large screen monitor, allowing the doctor and the patient to view during examination.
- Stress testing – It is a diagnostic test to determine the functioning of the heart under stress and its ability to withstand. You will be asked to perform treadmill or cycling, during which the physician will perform echocardiogram and measure blood pressure changes. It is mainly done to detect the cause of chest pain, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, or fluttering in the chest.
- Electrocardiogram / Echocardiogram (ECG or EKG) - In this procedure, the electrodes are placed on your upper body and legs to capture electrical signals of your heart. This test determines functioning of the heart, rate of heart beat, irregularities in rhythm, and also identifies if the heart is enlarged or damaged. It is done in patients who complain of chest pain, palpitations, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
Once the results are obtained, your cardiologist will design a plan for further evaluation or provide treatment. Your doctor may also suggest lifestyle modifications, such as losing weight, increase physical activities, avoid smoking and chronic alcoholism, and may also suggest cholesterol-reducing medications. If you are diagnosed with coronary artery disease during the scanning, then your cardiologist will suggest coronary revascularization through angioplasty, with or without stenting or coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG). These surgeries will lower the cardiac risk such as myocardial infarction or death.
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