When and how often should you get a routine cardiac checkup done? What tests does heart evaluation entail?

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Doctors often insist that it is wise to get regular health checkups done. It is especially important if you suffer from lifestyle issues that affect your heart.

Cardiovascular diseases are evidently on the rise today, and it is important to prioritise health and manage symptoms.

Dr Ruchit Shah, interventional cardiologist, Masina Hospital, Mumbai said since Indians die of heart-related issues 15 to 20 years earlier than their Western and Japanese counterparts, it is extremely important to be vigilant, especially after the pandemic.

“We have witnessed a sudden surge in the number of sudden cardiac arrest and death, even in the younger individuals,” the doctor said, adding that it is extremely important that we understand and identify whether we are at risk of having a sudden cardiac arrest or coronary artery disease.

How do we do that?

“We must first understand that lipid plaques start developing inside our heart arteries as early as teens. Prevention should start from day one of life. That means, as early as day one, you must have a diet low in ghee, sugars, salts, and oils. This lifestyle should be followed throughout your life,” Dr Shah advised.

The expert added that early detection is as good as cure. “The Lipid Association of India recommends you should get your lipid profile checked once at the age of 18 years, and thereafter once every three to five years.”

When should you get your blood pressure checked?

According to the doctor, with every routine clinical visit with a doctor — irrespective of age — it is wise to get your pulse and blood pressure checked; get your blood pressure checked once in at least six to 12 months, he said.

The doctor added that routine cardiac evaluation should be done from the age of 40. “You should get a baseline ECG done, thereafter, if you have symptoms, or your treating doctor suggests, you may get tests such as 2d echo, stress test, CT coronary angio, or coronary angiogram done for the evaluation of coronary artery disease.”
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For heart patients

If you have already undergone an angioplasty or a bypass surgery, you are required to follow up with your doctor at least once in six months, he recommended. “If you have a heart pumping function of less than 40 per cent — that is, an ejection fraction of less than or equal to 40 per cent — you should follow up with your doctor at least once in two to three months.”

Dr Shah said a heart patient can lead a normal life, and do all routine activities like climbing stairs, swimming, jogging or playing sports. But, before engaging in such activities, they should take permission from a doctor.

What does a routine cardiac evaluation entail?

“It would just include a basic history, risk factor assessment, whether you have a high blood pressure, diabetes, whether you smoke, drink, do drugs, your lifestyle, sleeping patterns, and ECG HbA1c that’s glycosylated hemoglobin, which reflects the sugar level over the last three to four months,” said the doctor, adding lipid profile — a test to detect whether you are having a high cholesterol level — is also recommended once in a while.

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